The German Canadians in Saskatchewan with Particular Reference to the Language Problem, 1900-1930
Today multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism are encouraged by legislation and government agencies both federally and provincially. In Saskatchewan the Department of Culture and Youth has been charged with the task of getting the varied ethnic groups to work together to provide a sense of community without at the same time causing any individual group to make undue sacrifice. This conviction that the language and culture of the various ethnic groups is worthy of preservation is not new; it was held when thousands of immigrants were welcomed to Saskatchewan at the turn of the twentieth century. Special concessions were made to enable the immigrants to retain and to exercise their language and culture. Thousands of Germans were attracted to Saskatchewan because of the prospect of being able to retain their Deutschtum (Germanism) and the availability of fertile and inexpensive land. The majority of Germans came from countries other than Germany but they had maintained their language and culture for many decades. Upon arriving in Saskatchewan these Germans began to organize themselves again so as to maintain their Deutschtum. In spite of serious obstacles such as denominational divisions and a lack of ethnic self-consciousness, the Germans were able to achieve considerable success in retaining their language prior to the outbreak of World War 1. . The war had serious implications for all ethnic groups in Saskatchewan. However, the Germans were affected most since they spoke the language and appreciated the culture of the enemy. By the end of the war virtually all activities designed to foster Germanism had ceased and the language rights the Germans had enjoyed for years had been removed through legislation. These were crippling blows to das Deutschtum in Saskatchewan. Even more critical, though, was the distrust and hatred shown the Germans during the war, especially in the "English only" controversy and through propaganda campaigns. This instilled a sense of fear into many German Canadians, aroused feelings of resentment and completely intimidated those Germans who had given leadership. As a result, for many years after the war the Germans were indeed "the quiet in the land." The German community began to reorganize and initiate steps to strengthen their Deutschtum with great reluctance. However, by 1930 the Germans had once again made considerable gains in their attempts to maintain their language in Saskatchewan.