A Place to Belong: A History of Multiculturalism in Canada Podcast Series

Listen to A Place to Belong, a five-part podcast from Historica Canada.

In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt an official multiculturalism policy. It was meant to preserve cultural freedoms and recognize the contributions of diverse groups to Canadian society. Today it’s a defining feature of the Canadian identity. But for much of our history, that wasn’t the case. We explore the reasons why in this five-part series, A Place to Belong: A History of Multiculturalism in Canada, produced by Historica Canada and made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

Listen to A Place to Belong, a five-part podcast from Historica Canada.In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt an official multiculturalism policy. It was meant to preserve cultural freedoms and recognize the contributions of diverse groups to Canadian society. Today it’s a defining feature of the Canadian identity. But for much of our history, that wasn’t the case. We explore the reasons why in this five-part series, A Place to Belong: A History of Multiculturalism in Canada, produced by Historica Canada and made possible in part by the Government of Canada.



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Episode 1: How We Got Here

[Read the full episode transcription here.]

Canada as we know it today has been shaped by policies that encourage immigration and welcome people from all corners of the globe. But the journey to a multicultural Canada hasn’t been a straight path.

In this episode, Guy Freedman, Métis from Flin Flon and president of the First Peoples Group, and historian Dr. Jan Raska from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 help us understand how we got to where we are today.

This episode was written and produced by Historica Canada. Production support from Michael Fiore and Edit Audio. Post-production by Edit Audio. Thank you to Dr. Jan Raska and Guy Freedman, who were also consultants on this episode. Fact-checking by Nicole Schmidt. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Cover image courtesy of Library and Archives Canada/1990-560-2.

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Episode 2: Battle of the Hatpins

[Read the full episode transcription here.]

On a cold January day in 1916, dozens of francophone parents fought off police who were trying to prevent French-language instruction at the Guigues School in Ottawa. In the infamous Battle of the Hatpins, mothers brandished rolling pins, cast-iron pans and hatpins and refused to allow police on the grounds.

In this episode, executive director of the Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne, Soukaina Boutiyeb, helps us explore the centuries-long fight for francophone rights in Ontario – and the historic battle that marked it.

This episode was written and produced by Historica Canada. Production support from Andrew Chung and Edit Audio. Post-production by Edit Audio. Thanks to Soukaina Boutiyeb and to our script consultant, historian Dr. Marcel Martel. Fact-checking by Sebastian Leck. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Cover image courtesy of the University of Ottawa, Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture (CRCCF).

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Episode 3: Mayor of Toronto’s Chinatown

[Read the full episode transcription here.]

Toronto’s Chinatown – one of the largest in North America – is filled with hustle and bustle. Today, the community is larger, more diverse, and more embedded in Canadian society than ever. But, in the late 1960s, the City of Toronto nearly wiped its Chinatown from the map.

In this episode, Arlene Chan helps us explore the history of the Chinese people in Canada, and one Chinese Canadian woman’s determination to save Toronto’s Chinatown.

This episode was co-written by Melissa Fundira and Historica Canada. It was produced by Historica Canada. Production support and post-production by Edit Audio. Thank you to Arlene Chan and to our script consultant, Dr. Serene Tan. Special thanks to the Lumb family and the Jean Lumb Foundation. Clips of Jean Lumb from the 2003 documentary Spirit of the Dragon by Gil Gavreau were provided by Third World Newsreel. Fact-checking by Nicole Schmidt. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Cover image of Jean Lumb courtesy of Arlene Chan.

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Episode 4: Hogan’s Alley

[Read the full episode transcription here.]

In the late 1960s, Hogan’s Alley was the only area in Vancouver with a largely Black population, mainly because of the housing discrimination pervasive in the city.

In this episode, Randy and Bertha Clark share their memories of a tightknit community brought to the ground by city planning, and explain how historic Black communities are still fighting to be remembered.

CONTENT WARNING: This episode contains reference to specific instances of anti-Black racism and violence.

This episode was co-written by Melissa Fundira and Historica Canada. It was produced by Historica Canada. Production support by Michael Fiore and Edit Audio. Post-production by Edit Audio. Thank you to our interviewees Bertha and Randy Clark, and consultant Stephanie Allen, founding board member of the Hogan’s Alley Society. Clips of Thelma Gibson-Towns from the 1994 documentary Hogan’s Alley by Cornelia Wyngaarden and Andrea Fatona provided by Video Out Distribution. Fact-checking by Amy van den Berg. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada

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Episode 5: Project Neighbourhood

[Read the full episode transcription here.]

In this episode, we asked: What does the multiculturalism policy look like in practice? To find out the answer, Jim Torczyner, a professor of social work at McGill University, walks us through Montreal’s most diverse neighbourhood, Côte-des-Neiges, and we explore what works — and what needs work. 

This episode was co-written by Melissa Fundira and Historica Canada. It was produced by Historica Canada. Production support from Michael Fiore and Edit Audio. Post-production by Edit Audio. Thanks to Jim Torczyner, who was also a consultant on this episode. Clips of Magda Popeanu generously provided by the Toronto Ward Museum’s Block by Block Program. Fact-checking by Nicole Schmidt. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada

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