Textbook Notes (363,065)
Canada (158,171)
Sociology (1,479)
SOC218H1 (13)
Eric Fong (13)

Transnational geographies: Indian immigration to Canada

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University of Toronto St. George
Eric Fong

Transnational geographies: Indian immigration to Canada -Transnational nature of relationship must engage multiple sites and scales -This paper captures the diverse transnational nature of immigrant networks between India (Punjab and Delhi) and Canada (Vancouver, Toronto) and reveals the social and spatial basis of recursive relations between these diverse geographical sites 1. India-Canada Immigration and Its Social and Spatial Characteristics: Creating a Transnational Field a) The History of Indian Immigration to Canada -Early relations with India were characterized by immigrant exclusion, illustrated most obviously by the 1908 continuous passage Order-in-Council -Early immigrants from India were mainly Jat Sikh sojourners from Punjab, drawn to BC to work in the province’s resource industries th -Due to the restrictive immigration policies and anti-Asian sentiment evident in early 20 century Canada, community formation was marked by close intraethnic social interaction and segmented integration -By the 1950s, as immigration rules eased and permitted limited family immigration from non-European sources, the population slowly developed, resulting in a community dominated by immigrants from Punjab. -The majority of Indian immigrants in Canada at this time hailed not just from Punjab, but primarily from one region within Punjab, known as Doaba -Other Indian immigrants have commented on the dominance of Sikh Punjabis in Canada and suggested that non-Sikh or non-Punjabi-origin Indian immigrants are often deemed not apna, or not ‘our own’, by Sikhs -Over 80 percent of the South Asian origin population in Canada resides in Ontario or British Columbia b) Composition of immigrant flows from India -It was not until 1967 that immigration policy eliminated discrimination based on race, religion or national origin, moving instead towards a points system based on various qualifications. -South Asian immigrant numbers changed only slightly throughout the 1960s, due in part to institutional impediments: there was only one immigration office for the whole of India. -In the case of family class immigration, Punjab continues to exercise a strong influence, accounting for 80 percent of all applications in 1998, but it drops to just over 55 percent for all classes. -Refugee class:  Recorded refugee numbers from India in the 1980s and 1990s exceeded 1,000 only in 1996, when 1,241 were admitted.  Refugees from India at this time were primarily interpreted as escaping the violent unrest linked to the politics of Khalistan and Sikh separatism  One of the most famous Indian refugee incidents in Canada around this time was the arrival in 1987 of the Amelie off the coast of Nova Scotia with 174 Sikhs onboard.  A number of those aboard the ship, however, were granted refugee status and settled in the larger urban centers, where Indo-Canadian communities were well established.  15 to 20 percent of all Indian immigration to Canada was undocumented  It has also been suggested that the influx of these Sikhs, who were primarily young, into the established Sikh Canadian community caused some tension, especially with reference to how the Sikh religion was practiced -Skilled-worker class:  The skilled-worker category contains those immigrants selected through the points system as outlined in the 1967 immigration policy.  The numbers of skilled Indian immigrants increased  This changing immigration pattern introduced the religious, geographical and social diversity, increasingly incorporating individuals from regions other than Punjab, especially Gujarat and Maharasta  This change in the nature of immigration has been coupled with an increase in the role of immigration consultants.  In 1998, their clients received close to one-quarter of the total visas CIC issued to independent immigrants from India.  This suggests that as this class increases, consultants will exercise a powerful influence over the geography of immigrant source and destination. -Business class:  Canada’s business category includes the self-employed, entrepre
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