The various waves of migration to Canada over the course of its history have made the country what it is — a mosaic of peoples of diverse backgrounds. In 2011, Canada’s foreign-born population was approximately 6.8 million people, or 20.6 per cent of the total population — the highest proportion among G8 countries.

Canada’s checkered history of immigration has included instances of outright discrimination (see Komagata Maru; Chinese Head Tax; MS St. Louis) as well as genuine humanitarian heroics; Canada is the only nation to receive the United Nations Refugee Agency’s Nansen Award, in recognition of its efforts to resettle 60,000 Vietnamese refugees.

The following list includes some of the more significant waves of people to have arrived on Canada’s shores during particular periods of time and from specific regions abroad, either as immigrants or refugees. Click through to read more about each group’s experiences as newcomers to Canada.