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Article

Berger Commission

In 1974, the federal government formed a royal commission to consider two proposals for natural gas pipelines in the North. Thomas Berger, a judge, led the inquiry. Over the next two years, the Berger Commission assessed the potential impacts of the proposed pipelines. Berger held formal and informal hearings. These included 45 community hearings from the Northwest Territories and Yukon to Southern Canada. His 1977 report made several recommendations. He called for further study and the settlement of Indigenous land claims. He also called for a 10-year ban on pipeline construction in the Mackenzie Valley. Berger opposed building any pipeline across the sensitive caribou habitat of the northern Yukon. The Berger Commission involved the public and included Indigenous views more than any resource-related consultation had done before in Canada.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

Article

Canada West

In 1841, Britain united the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada. This was in response to the violent rebellions of 1837–38. The Durham Report (1839) laid out the guidelines to create the new colony with the Act of Union in 1840. The Province of Canada was made up of Canada West (formerly Upper Canada) and Canada East (formerly Lower Canada). The two regions were governed jointly until Confederation in 1867. Canada West then became Ontario and Canada East became Quebec.

Editorial

Editorial: John Humphrey, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1946, John Humphrey became director of the United Nations Division on Human Rights, and Eleanor Roosevelt was named the United States representative to the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. Humphrey was an obscure Canadian law professor. Roosevelt was the world’s most celebrated woman. For two years, they collaborated on the creation of one of the modern world’s great documents: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was adopted on 10 December 1948.

Article

Terrorism and Canada

Terrorism is a phenomenon with deep roots. Scholars have noted examples of terrorism in the Middle East in the ancient and medieval periods. Since the late nineteenth century, terrorist attacks have been common.

Article

Second World War (WWII)

The Second World War was a defining event in Canadian history, transforming a quiet country on the fringes of global affairs into a critical player in the 20th century's most important struggle. Canada carried out a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic and the air war over Germany and contributed forces to the campaigns of western Europe beyond what might be expected of a small nation of then only 11 million people. Between 1939 and 1945 more than one million Canadian men and women served full-time in the armed services. More than 43,000 were killed. Despite the bloodshed, the war against Germany and the Axis powers reinvigorated Canada's industrial base, elevated the role of women in the economy, paved the way for Canada's membership in NATO, and left Canadians with a legacy of proud service and sacrifice embodied in names such as Dieppe, Hong Kong, Ortona and Juno Beach.

(This is the full-length entry about the Second World War. For a plain-language summary, please see Second World War (Plain-Language Summary).)

Article

Canadian English

English is one of Canada’s two official languages. According to the 2016 Canadian census, English is the mother tongue of approximately 19.5 million people, or 57 per cent of the population, and the first official language of about 26 million people, or 75 per cent of the Canadian population.

Editorial

Quebec's 400th Anniversary

During the golden summer of 1908, Canadians celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Québec with a public spectacle rarely rivaled for scale or theatricality since. Then, as now, there were those who wanted to conflate the founding of Québec with the birth of Canada.

Article

Beetle

Beetles are an extremely diverse group of insects, which together make up the order Coleoptera (from Greek koleos, meaning, “sheath,” and ptera, “wings”). So named for their hardened forewings, which conceal a second pair of flight wings, beetles have the greatest number of known species of any comparable group of living things. There are an estimated 380,000 described beetle species worldwide, representing about 40 per cent of the world’s known insects. Beetles occupy nearly every available terrestrial and freshwater habitat, having evolved to fulfill more ecological roles than probably any other group of organisms. As such, beetles are found all over the world. In Canada, over 8,150 species are known, representing 121 of the world’s 176 families of beetles. Familiar beetles include lady beetles, fireflies, scarabs, weevils, tiger, ground, blister and leaf beetles.

Article

Somalia Affair

In 1992–93, Canada contributed military forces to UNITAF, a United Nations–backed humanitarian mission in the African nation of Somalia. In 1993, Canadian soldiers from the now-defunct Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a Somali teenager named Shidane Arone. These and other violent abuses during the mission shocked Canadians and damaged the country’s international reputation. They also led to a public inquiry that revealed serious failures of leadership at the highest levels of the Canadian Armed Forces, kick-starting reforms aimed a professionalizing the officer corps.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Article

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a behaviour pattern characterized by uncontrolled drinking of alcoholic beverages to the extent of impairing health and social functioning.

Article

Social History

Social history is a way of looking at how a society organizes itself and how this changes over time. The elements that make up Canada’s social history include climate and geography, as well as the transition to industrialization and urbanization.

Article

History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies

The Canadian Prairies were peopled in six great waves of migration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Between 1640 and 1840, several thousand European and Canadian fur traders arrived, followed by several hundred British immigrants. They created dozens of small outposts and a settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest part of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted mainly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest wave was drawn from many nations, mostly European. It occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s. It lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere. It has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.

Macleans

Great Ice Storm of 1998

Then, Margaret's son, Allan, urged her to stay with him in Ottawa - but all trains in and out of the two cities were cancelled, and roads closed. Meanwhile, Allan, his wife, Lori, and their three young sons hosted nine neighborhood boys whose own homes were without power.

Article

Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

Macleans

Human Smuggling

The glare of a lightbulb dangling from the ceiling of his decrepit basement room casts a harsh light on the young illegal's life. A beetle scurries from under a mattress on the floor beneath a grimy window.