A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History

Immigration History

Unlike Alberto Guerrero who arrived here in the 1920s on invitation to teach, most Chileans immigrants to Canada have come here in the last 30 years, triggered by two major political events in their country starting in the early 1970s. Since then, thousands of Chileans left or were exiled during the period of military rule in Chile (1973-89), bringing them to Canada in search of safety, political stability and/or better economic opportunities.

The first major political event became a crisis for some Chileans when the country democratically elected a Marxist government led by Salvador Allende. The second crisis came a few years later, when the military coup led by Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Allende regime in 1973. The first group of Chileans left their country during the Allende regime because of their distaste for the socialistic policies being implemented, and the ensuing economic downturn for them. These first settlers left Chile on their own, and were therefore unable to claim refugee status. 1

The second, much larger group, came to Canada after the Pinochet coup. While many Chileans were forced by the military to leave their country, others left of their free will because they felt far from safe under the imposition of military rule. Arrests, disappearances and political repression marked a new reign of terror as the regime of the military junta was unwilling to tolerate any political opposition or to forgive those that had either participated in paramilitary operations or worked for the Allende government. 2

Because of the large number of human rights abuses in Chile under Pinochet, several countries, including Canada, opened their borders to fleeing Chileans. Many political refugees went to neighboring Latin American countries, and also made their way to Cuba, to Eastern European countries and to Soviet bloc member states. 3

Endnotes
1,2,3,4,5 The Canadian Encyclopedia 2000 McClelland and Stewart
6,7,8,9,10 Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples

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