Friday, 5 December 2014

Adventures from the Archives Part VII

Hello blog world!

Sorry for the massive delay in writing another adventure from the archives. Things have been a little hectic but the good news is that a potential publication on Ugandan Asians in Canada may be available for all of you to read in the coming months! Without any further ado let's get into this week's find from the archives.

We have an updated memorandum to cabinet from September 1972 and it follows up from the previous memorandum submitted in August featured in adventure from the archives part II.

What: Memorandum to the Prime Minister's office/ Cabinet
Who: Sent by Bryce Mackasey, Minister for Manpower and Immigration
When: September 13th 1972
Where: Ottawa
So What: Marks the first official increase of Ugandan Asian expellees to come to Canada and proposes that Canada accept anyone who qualifies under the points system as well as an additional 1,000 who would require special humanitarian assistance.

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Here are some very interesting things in particular to note from the document. The first is that the entire objective of the memorandum is to remove the numerical limitation set at 3,000 Ugandan Asians and to allow for any one who qualifies to be given entry to Canada. Since the team in Kamapala headed by Roger St. Vincent had been operational since September 6th and already screened hundreds of applicants, the Canadian government was aware that they would easily meet the initial quota by the end of September. They did not want anyone who was qualified to be refused a Canadian visa. On the one hand, the Canadian government did want to accept anyone who could contribute significantly to Canadian society. However, on the other hand, they did want to showcase their humanitarian intentions and admit at least a few hundred expellees that would not normally qualify under the standard points system.

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Officials were operating under previous immigration statistics from East Africa which saw a 40% acceptance rate for those who applied. Under the initial estimate of 3,000 total expellees coming to Canada it was assumed that 1,200 would be qualified and the other 1,800 would require additional assistance. After a week of operations on the ground in Kampala it was clear that there were far more than 1,200 expellees who were eligible to come to Canada.

One of the potentially controversial issues within this memorandum is the clear importance of evaluating expellees under the points system regardless of their status as refugees. Officials believed that they did not fit within the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees definition but considered them to be oppressed minorities. Under the provision of being an oppressed minority, immigration officials were given some flexibility in accepting those who would not normally qualify. However, the document makes it quite clear that Canada is only willing to accept 1 000 expellees based on special humanitarian assistance. This does not necessarily detract from Canada's mission to provide humanitarian assistance because they easily could have opted not to get involved at all. On the flip side, it does showcase that they wanted to accept a large number of highly educated, highly skilled, and business savvy individuals who were caught in a very difficult situation and who met the standard immigration requirements. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Shezan, I am in the process of doing research on the resettlement of Ugandan Ismailis to Canada in 1972 as part of my undergraduate thesis at McGill. Please let me know if you would like to chat sometime! My email is


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