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the politics

The Revolutionary Force

The Finnish community in Canada has never been homogenous. While socialist-orientated “Red Finns” outnumbered the more religious and conservative “White Finns” until the late 1950s, Finnish immigrants held a variety of political beliefs. Although more socially progressive than average Canadians at the time, First Wave Finns (1888-1914) were often radicalized by their experiences in Canada. Second Wave Finns (1917-1930), many of who were political refugees fleeing Finland after the Russian Revolution and Finnish Civil War, arrived with strong socialist beliefs. Canadian immigration policy after the Second World War reflected Cold War fears and ensured that Third Wave Finns (1950-1970) were much more anti-socialist. For many, the promise of a new beginning in Canada was quelled by the reality of harsh working conditions, ethnic prejudice and the social inequalities. Seeking to contribute positively to social change, Finns at the Lakehead played a significant role in the development of the Canadian labour and socialist movements.