Immigration And Canada It is a fact that almost all of the people in Canada are immigrants, or come from immigrant descent. If it were not for the millions of people who have fled to Canada in hope of a better life, Canada would never have prospered into what it is today. As a result of this fact, it is hard to believe that immigrants are still faced with many hardships when they enter Canada. Most immigrants have good intentions in mind when coming to a new country. Immigrants coming to Canada believe that they will be able to keep their culture, become successful and prosper. These misleading hopes set the immigrant up for a life of continuous disappointment.
Canadian Literature portrays the immigrant experience in a negative light. The Canadian experience for immigrants appears to be programmed for failure. Immigrants try to adopt a new identity in hope that this will enable them to succeed in the future. Venturing to new lands often compels immigrants to isolate themselves from society, by holding onto their own traditions and disregarding the new culture. Immigrants who seek to become successful in Canada are often let down by what they have found, and are left feeling fearful, desolate and helpless. Immigrant characters in Canadian literature often express a fear of losing their identity and culture.
For most immigrants, culture is the only thing that truly belongs to them when they come to a new country. In the novel The Black Madonna by Frank Paci, Assunta Barrone is one of the main characters who has immigrated from Italy to a small town in Northern Ontario. Her refusal to adapt or change herself in any way to become more Canadian exemplifies her desire to keep her Italian heritage. “It had been a long time since she had stepped off that train with her dowry trunk. And in all that time she had never ceased to puzzle him. He didnt know whether she had purposely refused to adapt to the new ways or if she was incapable of doing so.
She was certainly stubborn. She had strange old-country customs that she insisted on maintaining even though they were primitive and embarrassing” (Paci 11). Assuntas desire to keep her customs was what helped to preserve her Italian identity. By keeping her identity Assunta felt like her homeland was somehow constantly with her. The poem “Alien” by Mary Elizabeth Colman also exemplifies the immigrants fear of losing their identity. “Dear hills of home, why did I leave your arms?/ How can I love this vast, clamorous land?/ Whose noisy people hold me in contempt?” (Colman 9-11). This immigrant is in fear of the new land which they have come to, and is afraid of the people around them.
Because immigrants hold their culture so close to them when they travel to new lands, they defend it with every ounce of their being. Without culture or identity immigrants are defenceless in a new country. The immigrant in Canadian literature is often regretful of leaving their homeland because of the disappointments they discover about Canada. Most immigrants believe that getting a Canadian passport and citizenship is their key to unlocking the good life In Canadian literature the opposite of this occurs because the ideal of what Canada is does not meet its reality. This is best exemplified through the short story “Hunky” by Hugh Garner and the poems “Land of Opportunity” by F.R. Scott and “I Fight Back” by Lillian Allen.
In the story “Hunky” the main character Hunky is a German immigrant working in the tobacco fields for a very arrogant employer. Hunky wants nothing more than to become a Canadian citizen because he feels that having his citizenship is the key to obtaining the good life. “He placed great stress on the fact that he hoped to become a Canadian citizen in the fall. His longing for citizenship was not only gratitude and patriotism towards the country that had given him asylum, but a craving for status as a recognized human being” (Garner 135). The poem “Land of Opportunity” by F.R. Scott exemplifies the disappointment of the Canadian status. “Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce/These are privileged names in my country/But I AM ILLEGAL HERE.” (Scott, 2-4).
The poem goes on to say “I come to Canada/And found the Doors/ of Opportunities Well Guarded ” (7-9). This poem expresses the immigrant womans disappointments found when she came to Canada. In the poem “I Fight Back” by Lillian Allen, the main character expresses the deep anger immigrants have instilled against Canada. “Got involved in a Communist demonstration,/And is now being deported by the Canadian Government./This will teach these foreign reds/ The sort of country theyve come to.” (Allen, l9-12). Immigrants are often left disappointed because their images of Canada do not meet with the ideal and truth of what the country is like. Immigrants in Canadian literature are constantly struggling with denying their past in order to succeed in the future.
In Joy Kowagas “Obason” Naomis uncle struggles with his identity. A families silence about the force of the interment of the Japanese in Vancouver, compels Naomi to gather information on her dead uncles that has been responsible for changing her life. Naomi s uncle was of Japanese sailor whose ships had been taken over by the R.C.M.P. While Naomi searched through her grandfathers belongings she found a box box filled with her grandfathers old boat building tools and a shoe box containing a document from the R.C.M.P. The document stated that Naomis uncle must leave his area and report to the local Registrar of Enemy Aliens where he will later be placed in an interment camp.
Even though, Naomis uncle was a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government took over his ships because of his Japanese origin. Naomis uncle was robbed not only of his ships, but so of his morals and ethics. By hiding his past in shoe boxes he wanted nothing to with his Japanese origin. A letter was also found from the Office of the Custodian from the Japanese Evacuation Section, stating that it was not his fault nor the police, nor the men who rioted against him that his ships had been taken over and he was placed in an interment camp. The Canadian government was just doing their job (67). During World War II injustice was the only thing that was constant in a world full of chaos.
Naomis uncle developed an inner conflict in coping with his identity. Hiding all of possessions that resembled his past, Naomis uncle adopted a false identity, which he thought was the only key to sucess in the future. Immigrants try to adopt a new …