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Ghanian Immigration to Alberta

Ghana is a small nation in Western Africa. It is roughly a third of the size of Alberta and shares its borders with the Ivory Coast, Togo, and Burkina Faso. It is a land rich in mineral resources and one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. In 1957, it became the first African nation to gain independence. However, mismanagement, corruption, and coups prevented the nation from flourishing as it might.

While many Ghanaians may have left (or wished to leave) Ghana before the 1970s, Canada was not a realistic destination for them. Canada’s racist immigration laws, which allowed for immigrants to be turned away based on colour, prevented Ghanaians from making the journey. This changed in 1967 with the adoption of a merit-based point system that graded immigrants on skills and education rather than on race or religion.

Ghanaians began to arrive in the early 1970s. They were largely students, political exiles, teachers, and health workers. They left their country because of its floundering economic performance which over-relied on the export of primary resources, and because of political unrest, notably the 1966 coup which ousted the country’s first president. These immigrants settled mostly in Toronto, Canada’s most ethnically diverse city and home to a large black community. In 1976, Canada passed the Immigration Act, thereby updating its immigration policies. This act incorporated the United Nations’ definition of refugee into Canadian law. As a result, more political exiles from Ghana began to enter Canada.

A second wave of Ghanaian immigrants began arriving during the early 1990s. Compared to their earlier counterparts, these immigrants were less educated and less skilled. They often entered Canada as refugees or based on their status as relatives of previous immigrants. Because of the difficulties they face in finding employment, these immigrants have had a harder time settling into Canada. The majority settled in the Toronto area while others have settled in various other Canadian cities. In 1996, there were 335 Ghanaians living in Edmonton and another 265 in Calgary.

Currently, Canada has an immigration office in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

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