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A backlash against immigration, nativism is a combination of ethno-cultural prejudice and nationalism. While it differs from racism in that it does not necessarily involve ethnicity, it can be based on race as well as religion, economics or politics. The prejudices are typically formed by a dominant culture in regards to the cultural practices and language of minorities.

Interment campAs discussed in our section on Ontarians as a "Charter Group," until after World War II Albertans of Anglo-Saxon descent dominated the provincial landscape in terms of politics, economics and social structure. Although Alberta was an immigrant society (including the Anglo-Saxons themselves), there was an expectation of newcomers that they would fit into the mould already cast. Immigration policy still favoured the Anglo-Saxons and the concept of assimilation of minority cultures was still widely accepted.

World War I sparked increased nativist sentiment in Canada and the so-called threat of "enemy aliens" living in Canada prompted the federal government to formalize the prejudicial treatment of minorities. The government used the powers of the War Measures Act to register, restrict, censor and even intern and deport those whose origins could be found in enemy countries.  Additionally, the interwar period witnessed the height of restrictive immigration policy in Canada, including the Immigration Act of 1923, which effectively ended Chinese immigration until 1947 when the act was repealed. 

Banquet for John J. MaloneyThe economic hardship of the 1930s fostered increased resentment of "foreigners" and it was during the interwar period that Alberta witnessed the emergence of a home-grown  Ku Klux Klan. Most of this Klan activity was anti-catholic, anti-French and anti-immigrant and, as it was not racially prompted like elsewhere, it was a prime example of nativism.

Further Reading 
Palmer, Howard. Patterns of Prejudice: A History of Nativism in Alberta. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982.

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