Minister Kenney Acknowledges Foreign Immigrants’ Contribution To The Nation

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 19, 2013 5:33 PM EST

Jason Kenney, Canadian Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Monday applauded the contributions made by the immigrants to the nation.

Kenney was joined by members of the Italian, Chinese, Jewish, Ukrainian and other communities to mark the fifth Community Historical Recognition Program. It was initially started in 2008 by the federal government in order to acknowledge and educate all Canadians about how certain ethno-cultural communities were affected by wartime discriminatory measures and immigration restrictions applied in Canada.

"The Government of Canada is committed to recognizing and educating Canadians about the experiences of those pioneers who overcame such heavy burdens," said Minister Kenney in a press release.

 "Their experiences mark an unfortunate period in our nation's history. We must ensure that they are never forgotten."

Since 2008, the program has generated a number of social services to the 68 immigrants' communities across the country.

Under the umbrella of this program, a number of commemorative monuments were built and several exhibitions and plays were organized highlighting the lives and contributions of the immigrants in the country.

"I am confident that the memorials and the stories shared will not only serve as effective reminders of a difficult time in our history, but also recognize the enormous contributions these communities have made to build Canada," said Minister Kenney.

While addressing a gathering of Canadian-Chinese at Canada-China Chamber of Industry and Commerce's Chinese New Year celebration February 8, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Canada can't change the past but can learn from the past to build a better future.

"When I think about the Canadian-Chinese community and how successful it is, how vibrant, how integral to Canadian life, it's hard to imagine just how difficult things were within the span of a lifetime," Xinhua News agency quoted Harper as saying.

"I'm referring to the head tax and the exclusion of Chinese immigrants, shameful acts that produced extreme hardship and divided families. That's why in our first mandate, our government issued a full apology to the living victims of those misdeeds, along with symbolic compensation."

Canadian government in 1885 enacted the so called "guest worker policy" where Chinese immigrants in the country had to pay a tax of fifty Canadian dollars, which later increased to 500 dollars in order to be in the country. Again in 1923, the Canadian government introduced one more discriminatory act - Chinese Exclusion Act, effectively ending the Chinese immigration and stopping families from reuniting.

However, in 1947, Canada ended the discriminatory practices and gave full Canadian citizenship to all the Chinese in the country.

According to different sources, Harper government in 2006 gave $20,000 each to all the families and relatives of around 95,000 Chinese people in the country who had been the victims of those discriminatory practices.

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