||This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2012)|
3.08% of the Canadian population (2006)
|Regions with significant populations|
|British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Quebec|
|Related ethnic groups|
Indo-Canadians are Canadians whose origins trace back to India. The terms East Indian and South Asian are used to distinguish people of ancestral origin from India, from the First Nations peoples of Canada who are often referred to as Indian, and from the people of the Caribbean, who are sometimes referred to as West Indian.
Most Canadians of Indian origin prefer, and many times will refer to themselves as, "Indian", rather than "East Indian". This is partially because historically the Americas were mistaken by Columbus as India and native Americans were mistaken by Columbus for Indians and later as West Indians. It is also seen to be a reflection of India's size and stature, as well as its cultural, economic and political position in the world.
However, because the term East Indian is not blatantly pejorative and persists in being widely used by other Canadians, this term is also somewhat acceptable and tolerated by most Indo-Canadians. The term "East Indian" is relatively unknown in India. Another term, NRI (non-resident Indian), is used by Indians in India to refer to Indians abroad, including Canada. The main concentration of the Indo-Canadian population is found in the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley Region and the Greater Toronto Area, however there are growing communities in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Montreal.
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Reasons for moving 
The Indo-Canadian community started around the beginning of the 20th century. The pioneers were men, mostly Sikhs from the Punjab; many were veterans of the British Army. In 1897 a contingent of Sikh soldiers participated in the parade to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in London, England. On their subsequent journey home, they visited the western coast of Canada, primarily British Columbia which at the time was very sparsely populated and the Canadian government wanted to settle in order to prevent a takeover of the territory by the United States
Upon retiring from the army, some of these men found their pensions to be inadequate, it was dangerous in India or else their lands were in the clutches of money-lenders. They decided to try their fortunes in the countries they had visited. They joined an Indian diaspora, which included people from Burma through Malaysia, the East Indies, the Philippines, and China. They were able to get work in the police force and some were employed as night-watchmen by British firms. Others started small businesses of their own or drove taxis. These were modest beginnings but they had bigger ideas. At that time thousands of Chinese and Japanese migrants were going to Canada and the United States and sending substantial sums of money back to their families at home. The Sikhs, who had seen Canada, recommended the New World to fellow Sikh people who were in a position to venture out and seek new fortunes. They were guaranteed jobs by agents of big Canadian companies like the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company. Overcoming their initial reluctance to go to these countries due to the treatment of East Asians by the white population, many young men chose to go, having been assured that they would not meet the same fate. They were British subjects; Canada was a part of the British Empire; and the British Empire owed much to the Sikhs. Queen Victoria had proclaimed in 1858 that throughout the empire the people of India that they would enjoy "equal privileges with white people without discrimination of colour, creed or race."
Initial settlement 
However, upon arrival to British Columbia, the first Sikh immigrants faced widespread racism by the local white Canadians. Most of the white Canadians feared workers who would work for less pay, and that an influx of more immigrants would threaten their jobs. As a result there were a series of race riots that targeted the Sikh immigrants, who were beat up by mobs of angry white Canadians. These mobs not only targeted Indians, but also other Asian group such as the Chinese immigrants working on the railroad at the time and Black Canadians. From the social pressure most decided to return back to India, while a few stayed behind. To support the white Canadian population on the west coast of Canada, who did not want Indians to immigrate to Canada, the Canadian government prevented Indian men from bringing their wives and children until 1919, which was another considerable factor in their decision to leave Canada.
The restrictions by the Canadian government increased on Indians, and policies were put in place in 1907 to prevent Indians who had the right to vote from voting in future general elections. Furthermore, government quotas were established to cap the number of Indians allowed to immigrate to Canada in the early 20th century. This was part of a policy adopted by Canada to ensure that the country retained its primarily European demographic, and was similar to American and Australian immigration policies at the time. These quotas only allowed fewer than 100 people from India a year until 1957, when it was marginally increased (to 300 people a year). In comparison to the quotas established for Indians, people from Europe immigrated freely without quotas in large numbers during that time to Canada, numbering in the tens of thousands yearly.
In 1914, the Komagata Maru a steam liner carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India (all were British subjects) arrived in Vancouver. Most of the passengers were not allowed to land in Canada and were returned to India. When the Kamagata Maru returned to Calcutta (now Kolkata), they were fired upon by the British, many died. Viewing this as evidence that Indians were not treated as equals under the British Empire, they staged a peaceful protest upon returning to India. British forces saw this as a threat to their authority, and opened fire on the protestors, killing many. This was one of the most notorious "incidents" in the history of exclusion laws in Canada designed to keep out immigrants of Asian origin.
Recent settlement 
Policies changed rapidly during the second half of the 20th century. The Canadian government re-enfranchised the Indo-Canadian community with the right to vote in 1947. In 1967 all immigration quotas based on specific ethnic groups were scrapped in Canada. The social view in Canada towards people of other ethnic backgrounds was more open, and Canada was facing declining immigration from European countries, since these European countries had booming postwar economies, and thus more people decided to remain in their home countries. Canada introduced an immigration policy that was based on a point system, with each applicant being assessed on their trade skills and the need for these skills in Canada. This allowed many more Indians to immigrate in large numbers. In the 1970s, thousands of immigrants came yearly and mainly settled in Vancouver and Toronto. In the 1980s and early 1990s, tens of thousands of immigrants continued to move from India into Canada. According to Statistics Canada, since the late 1990s roughly 25,000-30,000 Indians arrive each year (which is now the second-most populous cultural group immigrating to Canada each year, behind Chinese immigrants who are the largest group). The settlement pattern in the last two decades is still mainly focused around Vancouver, but other cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal have also become desirable due to growing economic prospects in these cities.
Indians from other countries 
|Central and South America||40,475|
|Caribbean and Bermuda||24,295|
|**West Central Asia and the Middle East||6,965|
|Oceania and other||17,280|
Indians from Africa 
Due to political turmoil and prejudice, many Indians residing in East African nations, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, left the region for Canada and other Western countries. A majority of Indo-Canadians from East Africa are Ismaili Muslims. M.G. Vassanji, an award-winning novelist who writes on the plight of Indians in East Africa, is a naturalized Canadian of Indian descent who migrated from East Africa.
Indians have also moved to Canada from Southern African nations such as Zambia and South Africa for similar reasons, and examples of successful Indo-Canadians from this migratory stream are Suhana Meharchand and Nirmala Naidoo, television newscasters of Indian descent from South Africa, who currently work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Indira Naidoo-Harris is also another Canadian broadcaster who is of Indian descent from South Africa.
Two of the most high profile Indo-Africans are CNN's Zain Verjee and Ali Velshi. Verjee was educated in Canada while Velshi's father Murad who immigrated from South Africa was the first MPP of Indian descent to sit in the Ontario legislature.
The most notable story of Indo-African immigration to Canada is set in the 1970s, when 50,000 Indian Ugandans were forced out of Uganda by the dictator Idi Amin, and were not permitted to return to India by the Indian government. Although on the brink of facing torture and imprisonment on a massive scale, the Aga Khan, leader of the Nizari Ismaili Community, specially negotiated his followers' safe departure from Uganda in exchange for all their belongings. He also negotiated their guaranteed asylum in Canada with Prime Minister and close friend Pierre Elliott Trudeau. A notable descendent of Ugandian Indian settlement in Canada is Irshad Manji, an acclaimed advocate for secularism and reform in Islam.
Indians from the Caribbean 
The Indo-Caribbean community has developed a unique cultural blend of both Indian, Western and "Creolised Caribbean" culture due to a long period of isolation from India, amongst other reasons. Some Indo-Caribbean Canadians associate themselves with the Indo-Canadian community. However, most associate with the Indo-Caribbean community, or the Wider Caribbean community, or with both. They mainly live within the Greater Toronto Area. The vast majority do not subscribe to the term South Asian and are opposed to being classified as such and in their daily lives, describe themselves as "Indians."
Indians from the UK and the United States 
Some Indians have immigrated from the UK and the United States due to both economic and family reasons. Indians move for economic prospects to Canada's economy and job market and have been performing well against many European and some American states. Lastly, individuals have decided to settle in Canada in order to reunite their family who may have settled in both the United States and UK and not in Canada.
Indians from the Middle East 
Many Indians have been moving from countries in the Middle East to North America.
Most Indian immigrants from the Middle East are Indian businessmen and professionals that worked in the Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A key priority for these immigrants is educational opportunities for their children post schooling. Many of these students have stayed back after graduation and started their families there. The vast majority of Indo-Canadians from the Middle East are of Malayali ethnicity.
Indians from Oceania 
Indians have long been settled in certain parts of Oceania, mainly on the island of Fiji, where they comprise approximately 50% of the island's population. Since Fiji's independence, increased hostility between the native Fijian population and the Indo-Fijian population has led to several significant confrontations politically. Therefore, some Indo-Fijians are moving from the island to USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand due to political instability and ethnic conflict.
Indo-Canadian demographics 
Population settlement 
|Year||Indo-Canadian population||% of Canadian population|
The Indo-Canadian population according to Statistics Canada in the 2006 census in the 10 Canadian Provinces and 3 territories:
|British Columbia||232,370[dead link]|
|Nova Scotia||3,895[dead link]|
|New Brunswick||2,220[dead link]|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1,275[dead link]|
|Prince Edward Island||255[dead link]|
|Northwest Territories||130[dead link]|
Cities with large Indian populations:
As of 2009, the Indo-Canadian population has passed the 1 million mark.
Toronto has the largest Indian Community in Canada. Almost 51% of the entire Indo-Canadian community resides in the Greater Toronto Area. Most Indians in the Toronto area live in Brampton, Gerrard Street, Rexdale, Scarborough, and Mississauga. Indian carrier Jet Airways operates daily flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport to India. The Indians are mostly of Punjabi, Malayalee, Gujarati, Marathi and Tamil origin. Three bona fide Little India enclaves have been evolved around the Greater Toronto Area.
Around 20% of the entire Indian Community in Canada resides in the Vancouver area. Settlement by Indians has occurred increasingly since the point system was introduced to allow immigrants into Canada.
The highest density concentrations of Indo-Canadians are found in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Abbotsford and Delta. Recently, more Indians have been moving to other areas outside of Metro Vancouver. The city of Surrey has over 107,000 South Asians, comprising almost one-third of the city's population. The Punjabi Market neighborhood of South Vancouver also has a particularly high concentration of Indian residents, shops and restaurants.
A large majority of Indo-Canadians within Vancouver are of Punjabi Sikh origin. However, there are also populations with other ethnic backgrounds including Gujarati, Tamil, Kannadigas, Malayalees, Bengali, Urdu, and Sindhi.
|Religion||Total responses||Single responses||Multiple responses|
|No religious affiliation||30,725||16,555||14,175|
Indo-Canadians are from very diverse religious backgrounds compared to many other ethnic groups, which is due in part to India's multi-religious population. Unlike in India however, representation of various minority religious groups is much higher amongst the Indo-Canadian population. For instance in India, Sikhs comprise 2% and Christians 2.2% of the population of India, Hindus 80-82% and Muslims 13.4%. Amongst the Indo-Canadian population however, the religious views are more evenly divided. In 2001, Sikhs represented 35%, Hindus 28%, Muslims 17% and Christians 16%(7% Protestant/evangelical,9% Catholic). Relatively few people of Indian origin have no religious affiliation. In 2001, just 4% said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 17% of the Canadian population.
Places of worship 
Indians have been building places of worship for their respective faiths since the first settlers arrived to Canada. There are well over 175 Sikh societies/Gurdwaras in Canada alone. Hindu temples are usually established by separate Indian ethnic communities and while in a large number, are not as quantitative as Sikh gurdwaras. For instance, there are separate temples for North and South Indians, due to different customs and languages spoken. There are also many Islamic societies and mosques throughout Canada, which have been established and supported by Non-Indian and Indian Muslims alike. Indian Christians tend to attend churches based on their state of origin and their particular traditions including the Church of North India, Church of South India, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syrian Orthodox Church and Indian Pentecostal Church.
The first Sikh Gurdwara of North America was built in 1911 and is the Gur Sikh Temple of Abbotsford, BC, though debates show evidence to a gudwara having had been built earlier in 1908 and shut down later that decade. The Khalsa Diwan Society is responsible for most of the Gurdwara's in Canada as well as the Gur Sikh Temple. In Mississauga, another renowned Sikh Gurdwara exists, known as the Dixie Gurdwara and has played host to several Sikh martyrs. The Dixie Gurdwara is a fairly large complex compared to most Gurdwara, it contains a sports ground in its property which hosts kabadi matches and tournaments. Another large Gurdwara located in the Toronto area is the Sri Guru Singh Sabha which is connected to Englands Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha as its Canadian Branch. The Gurdwara hosts its own television program in which seniors across the country with no access to religion can listen to hymns.
Within Brampton, the largest Hindu temple in Canada is located on Claireville Drive, which is called the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto. The entire Mandir is 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) and hosts numerous events on the Hindu religious calendar. Many Indian Muslims along with Muslims of other nationalities worship at one of the largest mosques in Canada, the ISNA Centre, located in Mississauga. The facility contains a mosque, high school, community centre, banquet hall and funeral service available for all Muslim Canadians. The Ismailis have the first Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre set up in Burnaby, British Columbia. This high profile building is the 2nd in the World, with other locations in London, Lisbon, and Dubai. A second such building is being built in Toronto.
|Language||Total: Language spoken at home||Only speaks||Mostly speaks||Equally speaks||Regularly speaks|
Indo-Canadians speak a variety of languages, reflecting the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Indian subcontinent. The most widely spoken South Asian language is Punjabi, which is spoken by people from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh or Delhi in India. Some speakers of Punjabi in Canada may also be Pakistani and they come from Punjab Province in Pakistan. The next most widely spoken language spoken by South Asians is Tamil. These individuals hail from the state of Tamil Nadu in India, and speakers in Canada of the Tamil language come from both India and Sri Lanka. Urdu is primarily spoken by Muslim South Asians from North India and Pakistan. Hindi is a language mainly spoken by Indo-Canadians from across North India, however individuals of Indian descent from Africa and the Caribbean may also speak it as well. Gujarati is language spoken exclusively by people from the Indian state of Gujarat. Indians (Ismailis) from East Africa who subsequently migrated to Canada speak Gujarati. Zoroastrians from the western part of India who form a small percentage of the population in Canada, also speak Gujarati. Bengali is spoken by individuals from the state of West Bengal, as well as by the people of Bangladesh, and thus it is not exclusively spoken by Indo-Canadians in Canada, but also by Bangladeshis. There are also large number of speakers of Malayalam language, spoken in the state of Kerala in southern India.
Indo-Canadian culture 
Indo-Canadian culture is closely linked to each specific Indian group's religious and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, Northern Hindus cultural practices differ compared to Hindu Gujaratis and Sikh Punjabis due to either the difference in ethnicity or religion. Such cultural aspects have been preserved fairly well due to Canada's open policy of multiculturalism, as opposed to a policy of assimilation practiced by the United States and the United Kingdom.
The cultures and languages of various Indian communities have been able to thrive in part due to the freedom of these communities to establish structures and institutions for religious worship, social interaction and cultural practices. In particular, Punjabi culture and language have been reinforced in Canada through radio and television.
Alternatively, Indo-Canadian culture has developed its own identity compared to other non-resident Indians and from people in India. It is not uncommon to find youth uninterested with traditional Indian cultural elements and events, instead identifying with mainstream North American cultural mores. However such individuals exist in a minority and there are many youth that maintain a balance between western and eastern cultural values, and occasionally fusing the two to produce a new product, such as the new generation of Bhangra incorporating hip hop based rhythm. For instance, Sikh youth often mix in traditional Bhangra, which uses Punjabi instruments with hip hop beats as well as including rap with Black music entertainers. Notable entertainers include Raghav and Jazzy B.
Arranged and non-arranged marriage
Marriage is an important cultural element amongst many Indo-Canadians, due to their Indian heritage and religious background. Arranged marriage, which is still widely practiced in India, is no longer widely practiced among Canadian-born or naturalized Indians. However, marriages are sometimes still arranged by parents within their specific caste or Indian ethnic community. Since it may be difficult to find someone of the same Indian ethnic background with the desired characteristics, some Indo-Canadians now opt to use matrimonial services, including online services, in order to find a marriage partner. Marriage practices amongst Indo-Canadians are more liberal than those of their Indian counterparts, with caste only sometimes considered, and dowries almost non-existent.
Love-based marriage, where the partners choose themselves rather than their parents arranging the marriage, occurs commonly. Dating is practiced among many Indo-Canadians, but it is not as prevalent as other Canadian ethnic groups because some families maintain traditional Indian values.
Cross-cultural and interracial marriage
The phenomenon of cross-cultural and interracial marriage has been present in Canada for some years. However, the Indo-Canadian community engages in such marriages to a much lesser extent than members of most other visible minorities. However there is interracial marriage in the second generation. As a result of assimilation, mixed European/White, and Indian backgrounds are becoming more prevalent.
Cross cultural marriages are those that occur between Indo-Canadians and other South Asians which differ in their ethnic background (as in Punjabi or Gujarati), or by religious background. These types of marriages - especially those between different ethnic backgrounds - do occur more often than those between different religions.
Interracial marriages amongst Indo-Canadians mainly occur between a White Canadian and an Indian, and is rarely seen between an Indian and a person of another race such as Black or East Asians. Notable celebrities of biracial (Indian and White background) are Emanuel Sandhu, Manny Malhotra, Lisa Ray and Shaun Majumder.
Television, radio and newspaper 
There are numerous radio programs that represent Indo-Canadian culture. One notable program is Geetmala Radio, hosted by Darshan and Arvinder Sahota (also longtime television hosts of Indo-Canadian program, Eye on Asia).
A number of Canadian television networks broadcast programming that features Indo-Canadian culture. One prominent multicultural/multireligious channel, Vision TV, presents a nonstop marathon of Indo-Canadian shows on Saturdays. These television shows often highlight Indo-Canadian events in Canada, and also show events from India involving Indians who reside there. In addition, other networks such as Omni Television, CityTV and local community access channels also present local Indo-Canadian content, and Indian content from India.
In recent years, there has been an establishment of Indian television networks from India on Canadian television. Shan Chandrasehkhar, an established Indo-Canadian who pioneered one of the first Indo-Canadian television shows in Canada, made a deal with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to allow Indian television networks based in India to send a direct feed to Canada. In doing so, he branded these channels under his own company known as the Asian Television Network. Since 1997, Indo-Canadians can subscribe to channels from India via purchasing TV channel packages from their local satellite/cable companies. Indo-Canadians view such networks as Zee TV, B4U, Sony Entertainment Television, and Aaj Tak to name a few.
Major newspapers include Canindia News in Toronto & Montreal, The Asian Star and The Punjabi Star in Vancouver and The South Asian News in Edmonton and Calgary.
Notable Indo-Canadians past and present 
The Indo-Canadian community has had many members involved in the areas of entertainment, academia and most notably politics in Canada. For a full list of notable Indo-Canadians, past and present see the List of Indo-Canadians page.
Films with Indo-Canadian subject matter 
- Sweet Amerika (2008) (English)
- Masala (1992) (English)
- Tum Bin...Love Will Find a Way (2001) (Hindi)
- Taal (1999) (Hindi)
- Dus (2005) (Hindi)
- Cooking with Stella (2009) (English)
- Neal 'n' Nikki (2005) (Hindi)
- Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006) (Hindi)
- Kismat Konnection (2008) (Hindi)
- Jee Aayan Nu (2003) (Punjabi)
- Asa Nu Maan Watna Da (2004) (Punjabi)
- 7 to 11, Indian (2003) (English)
- Getting Married (English)
- Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006) (Hindi)
- Panchathantiram (2006) (Tamil)
- Arasangam (2008) (Tamil)
- 8 X 10 Tasveer (2009) (Hindi)
- Jugni Back to Roots (2013) (Punjabi/English)
- Jatt and Juliet (2012) (Punjabi)
- Panchathantiram (2004) (Tamil)
- Thank You (2011) (Hindi)
- Shakti: The Power (2002) (Hindi)
- Speedy Singhs (2011) (English)
Notably, the largest presence of Bollywood that Canada has seen in the 21st century is an international Bollywood awards show in June 2011. It is the 2011 IIFA Awards being held in the 50,000 seat Rogers Centre in Toronto. Toronto has been chosen as the host city with its large population of 600,000 South Asians. Most actors and actresses in the film industry will be making their way to Toronto for the awards, which are expected to catch a TV audience of over 500 million people from around the globe.
See also 
- "Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada - Data table". 2.statcan.ca. 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- explorASIAN - Sikh-Canadian History
- Selected Ethnic Origins1, for Canada, Provinces and Territories - 20% Sample Data
- Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data
- Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables (choose desired city in the left column and look under the term "East Indian" in the chart)
- Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations - 20% sample data
- Indian Dating
- "Indo-Canadian Mixed Marriage," Context and Dilemmas By: Jacqueline A. Gibbons
-  CBC International Radio Column on India-Canada relations and the Indo-Canadian community
- Statistics Canada Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Information. Detailed Tables of the ones included in the Demographics section of this article. "Look under East Indian or South Asian in the Tables"
- Explorasian - History of Sikh Canadians
- Indians in Canada
- Hindu Temples in Canada
- Little India's publication on Indo-Canadians "The other Indian Americans." Information regarding the cultural and demographic aspects of Indo-Canadians.
- "The Punjabi Hindu Family in Ontario," A Study in Adaptation By: Saroj Chawla
- Dixie Gurdwara website
- Number and Addresses of Sikh Gurdwaras in Canada
- Hindu Sabha Mandir website
- Asian Star
- GaramChai directory information on Indo-Canadian Society (Yellowpages type listings)
- Islamic Society of North America (Canada)'s website
- Asian Television Network
- MASALA CANADA with Wojtek Gwiazda - Radio Canada International
- Multicultural Canada website includes oral histories and Indo-Canadian newspapers
- NRI Online includes articles related to Indians in Canada
- "Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey" Simon Fraser University Library website with digitized material pertaining to Indian immigration and settlement in Canada