This is an outdated version published on 2021-04-18. Read the most recent version.

'Small Gold Mine of Talent': Integrating Prague Spring Refugee Professionals in Canada, 1968-1969

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40660

Keywords:

Canada, Immigration, Prague Spring Refugees, Czechs, Slovaks, Resettlement, Integration.

Abstract

Following the August 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, 11,200 Prague Spring refugees were resettled in Canada. This movement included many experienced professionals and skilled tradespeople. This article examines how these refugees navigated language training and barriers to employment, including professional accreditation, and examines how this experience shaped bureaucratic and public views of refugee integration. The focus of this article is primarily on resettlement and integration efforts in Ontario, since roughly half of the Prague Spring refugees were permanently resettled in the province. The article outlines how, as part of its efforts to help the refu- gees with their economic and social integration, Canadian officials provided assisted passage, initial accommodations, help with securing Canadian employment, and English- or French-language training. Prague Spring refugees navigated professional obstacles, including securing accreditation of their foreign credentials and underemployment in their respective fields. Their successful resettlement and integration depended on intergovernmental cooperation between Canada and its provinces, and the assistance provided by local Czech and Slovak communities across the country.

Author Biography

Jan Raska, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Jan Raska is a historian at the Canadian Museum of Immigration. He can be reached at jraska@pier21.ca.

References

Canada. Dominion Bureau of Statistics. (1959). Canada year book 1959. Minister of Trade and Commerce.

Canada. Employment and Immigration Canada. (1982). Indochinese refugees: The Canadian response, 1979 and 1980. Employment and Immigration Canada.

Canada. Parliament. (1969). House of Commons debates: Official report, first session -twenty eighth Parliament, vol ume 1. Queen’s Printer for Canada.

Canada. Parliament. (1970). House of Commons debates: Official report, second session—twenty eight Parliament, volume 1. Queen’s Printer for Canada.

Canada. Privy Council Office. (1968, September 5). Czechoslovak refugees, item 4431, file Cabinet Conclusions, vol. 6338, Privy Council Office fonds, RG 2, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Canada. Privy Council Office. (1968, October 3). Assistance to Czechoslovak refugee students and other Czechoslovak refugees from special Czechoslovak Refugee Fund, item 4528, file Cabinet Conclusions, vol. 6338, Privy Council Office fonds, RG 2, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Colombo, D. R. (1968, September 17). Memo to R. Welch, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Colombo, D. R. (1969, February 11). Memo to J. S. Yoerger, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Couillard, L. E. (1968, October 10). Memo to A. MacEachen, file 568-3-23, part 4, reel C-10688, vol. 691, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Curry, R. B. (1968, October 15). Memo to A. MacEachen, file 20-Czech-1-4, part 3, vol. 8948, Department of External Affairs fonds, RG 25, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Curry, R. B. (1968, October 16). Memo to A. MacEachen, file 568-3-23, part 4, reel C-10688, vol. 691, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Dirks, G. (1977). Canada’s refugee policy: Indifference or opportunism? McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Gellner, J., & Smerek, J. (1968). The Czechs and Slovaks in Canada. University of Toronto Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/9781487595722

Globe and Mail. (1968, October 21). Tests urged to evaluate Czech dentists.

Globe and Mail. (1968, October 23). Review of rules set for Czech dentists.

Globe and Mail. (1968, October 24). 7,000 refugees seek Canadian visas with no sign of a letup.

Globe and Mail. (1968, November 13). Czech dentists offered test in Ontario.

Globe and Mail. (1969, January 4). Haven granted to 10,000, Czech program to end.

Griffith, A. (2017). Telling the integration story. CIHS Bulletin: The Newsletter of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society 83, 5–6. http://cihs-shic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Bulletin-83-Final.pdf

Hawkins, F. (1988). Canada and immigration: Public policy and public concern. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Head of Immigration Secretariat (1968, October 10). Letter to J. Bissett, file 568-3-23, part 4, reel C-10688, vol. 691, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Heatley, R. (1975). Czechoslovakian refugee study: A report on the three-year study of the economic and social adaptation of Czechoslovakian refugees to life in Canada, 1968–1969 to 1971–1972. Manpower and Immigration Canada.

Hicks, W. (1969). Toronto’s Czechs: How successfully they have settled in. Toronto Life 3(5), 42–45, 75.

Holborn, L. (1975). Refugees: A problem of our time: The work of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, 1951–1972. Scarecrow Press.

Kelley, N., & Trebilcock, M. (2010). The making of the mosaic: A history of Canadian immigration policy. University of Toronto Press.

Lind, L. (1969, May 26). Czechs fail dentist’s test for Ontario. Globe and Mail.

Madokoro, L. (2009). Good material: Canada and the Prague Spring refugees. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 26(1), 161–171. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.30618 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.30618

Molloy, M. J. (2012, October 3). Molloy: Reflecting on the Ugandan refugee movement. Western News. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40448

Molloy, M. J., & Madokoro, L. (2017). Effecting change: Civil servants and refugee policy in 1970s Canada. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 33(1), 52–61. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40448 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40448

Petříček, R. (1970, January 12). Letter to W. J. Copeman, file 13, vol. 14, Czechoslovak National Association of Canada fonds, MG 28-V111, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Raska, J. (2016). Humanitarian gesture: Canada and the Tibetan resettlement program, 1971–5. Canadian Historical Review, 97(4), 546–575. https://doi.org/10.3138/chr.raska DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/chr.Raska

Raska, J. (2018). Czech refugees in Cold War Canada, 1945– 1989. University of Manitoba Press.

St. Thomas Times-Journal. (1969). St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital—Czech doctors on hospital internships [photograph].

Troper, H. (1993). Canadian immigration policy since 1945. International Journal, 48(2), 255–281. https://doi.org/10.2307/40202881 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/40202881

Unknown [redacted]. (1968, October 8). Letter to D. Bales, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Welch, R. (1968, October 30). Memo to J. P. Robarts, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario.

Welch, R. (1968, November 1). Letter to Unknown (redacted), file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Welch, R. (1968, November 19). Memo to J. Yaremko, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098,

RG 8-5, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Whalen, P. (1968, September 16). 203 from Czechoslovakia combine joy and sorrow. Globe and Mail.

Yoerger, J. S. (1968, October 18). Memo to R. Welch, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Yoerger, J. S. (1968, October 21). Memo to R. Welch, file Citizenship—Czech and Slovak Refugees, barcode B229098, Department of the Provincial Secretary and Citizenship fonds, RG 8-5, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Ziegler, E. (1972, November 7). Czechoslovakian refugees: Students, summary (D2014.103.1), Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Downloads

Published

2021-04-18

Versions

How to Cite

Raska, J. (2021). ’Small Gold Mine of Talent’: Integrating Prague Spring Refugee Professionals in Canada, 1968-1969. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 37(1), 50–60. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40660