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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29949

Title: "The kind of people Canada wants": Canada and the Displaced Persons, 1943-1953
Authors: Gilmour, Julie Frances
Advisor: Bothwell, Robert
Department: History
Keywords: Displaced Persons
refugee policy
Department of Labour
Issue Date: 15-Sep-2011
Abstract: In 1947 the federal government of Canada began a program to move European Displaced Persons (DP) out of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) camps in Germany and Austria. This program, designed to fill chronic labour shortages in Canada’s resource industries and contribute to a solution for Europe’s refugee crisis, occurred in a transitional moment in Canadian society. Canadians emerged from World War Two with a new sense of Canada’s role in the world, but despite a changed international climate, a new discourse of human rights and a potentially robust economy, old perceptions of race, immigration and economic management lingered in the postwar years complicating the work of a new generation of civil servants, politicians and industry operators. This is a history of the transition. It demonstrates the ways that old and new ideas of the nation, citizenship, race and immigration co-existed. It highlights the significance of the beginnings of a debate on the elimination of discrimination based on race in Canada’s immigration policy; shows the link between economic prosperity and popular support for immigration; and demonstrates the importance of individuals within industry, the civil service and in government in national decision-making. This is an international history, spanning the Atlantic and bringing a global perspective to local experience in Canadian industries. Chapters on the federal decision making process are supplemented by evidence from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), the IRO, the Ontario Ministry of Education and forestry, mining and hydro industries. It uses a variety of methodologies including policy history, oral history, public opinion polling, gender, ethnicity and labour studies to investigate the implications of these decisions for Canadian society. It demonstrates that the 1947-1951 movement of DPs was initiated primarily under dual pressure from Canadians who had served abroad and industry leaders who had previously used POW labour to solve on going shortages in the bush. These decisions were strongly informed by both the crisis in Europe and Canadian assumptions about race, labour and citizenship. By examining the expectations Canadians had for the behaviour of its newest arrivals and future citizens this study highlights the foundations of Canadian citizenship in 1947: community participation, contribution to the development of the economy, and political loyalty to the nation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29949
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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