Canadian immigration policy of the 1930s and 1940s was the most restrictive and selective in the country’s history, making it one of the countries to take the smallest number of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi persecution. After the war, Canada slowly opened its borders, but only through small token gestures in 1947 and 1948. This article explores how the main Canadian Jewish organization lobbied for the welcoming of more Jewish refugees and migrants in the immediate aftermath of the war. It examines how their perception of the public’s anti-Jewish immigrant sentiment and of the Canadian immigration policy’s discriminatory mechanisms informed their strategies. During that period, the Canadian Jewish Congress prioritized constant and subtle action with the government instead of trying to set up mass mobilization campaigns. This strategic shift is an overshadowed but essential chapter of both Jewish and human rights histories in Canada. This article invites a re-evaluation of Jewish activism’s role in ending ethnic selection in the Canadian immigration policy and promoting refugee rights. It contributes to broadening our understanding of how minority groups lobbied and worked with hostile media and authorities.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute