Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

"The police beat them up just to keep warm": A Finnish-Canadian Communist Comments on Environmental Depredation and Capitalist Exploitation in Early 20th-Century British Columbia

Document type Article
Author Wilson, J. Donald
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 44
Date 1999 Fall
ISSN 0700-3862
Pages 191-202


Presents an analysis of the political philosophy of Finnish-Canadian Augusti Bernhard Mäkelä and the impact of his immigrant status and lack of language proficiency on his political participation and perspective in Canada. After several years of considerable involvement in the "class struggle" in Finland, Mäkelä immigrated to British Columbia's Malcolm Island, settled in the Finnish commune of Sointula in 1901, and joined both the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party. Because he never became proficient in English, however, his political activism in Canada was limited to letters written in Finnish consisting of broad hyperbolic denunciations of local, provincial, and national politicians and their "exploitative" policies.