Iraqi Canadian

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Iraqi Canadian
Total population
49,680 (2011 Census)
Regions with significant populations
British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta
Languages
Canadian English, Arabic, Kurdish, South Azeri, Neo-Aramaic, Mandaic, Hebrew and Canadian French
Religion
Predominantly Islam, Christianity (Syriac Christianity and Catholic).
Related ethnic groups
Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians/Chaldeans, Azeris, Iranians, Mizrahim, Turks,
Some descendants Canadians

Iraqi Canadians come from a country of great ethno-linguistic and religious diversity. An estimated 36,000 Iraqi expatriates reside in Canada. According to the 2011 Census there were 49,680 Canadians who claimed Iraqi ancestry, having an increase compared to those in the 2006 Census.[1]

History[edit]

Emigration from Iraq to Canada has increased dramatically due to political and economic situations in Iraq. The Iraq-Iran War resulted in many immigrants, while destroying the Iraqi economy and being oppressed by the 13 year economic sanctions against Iraq that have followed the Gulf War of 1990–91; there was all the more reason to emigrate abroad. From 1945 until 1975 fewer than 200 Iraqis arrived in Canada [2] emigration had substaintially increased in 1979, the year Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq. Between 1975 and 1992, 6,472 Iraqis arrived in Canada [2] establishing about 3.5 percent of all Arab immigrants in Canada.[2] About 65 percent of Iraqis have settled in Quebec,and most of the remainder in Montreal; and British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver, adjacent to Seattle, Washington in the USA. Many Iraqis also live in the Detroit area with Windsor, Ontario and the Toronto areas. There are equal numbers from both males and females.[citation needed]

The 1991 Canadian census recorded 4,790 Iraqis; 3,525 of wholly Iraqi ancestry, and 1,265 of partial Iraqi ancestry.[2] Iraqi immigrants through the period of 1981-1992 settled principally in a few cities in Canada: British Columbia (362), Alberta (268), Quebec (203), Ontario (176), and Manitoba (152).[2]

Employment[edit]

The main factor for the immigration of Iraqis was due to the Gulf War and the situation in Iraq which drove them out of their homeland. In Canada, Iraqi immigrants seem to face three unexplainable problems, the first being unable to find jobs where they can apply their professional expertise. The second being discrimination, with a possibility that some employers associate them with the regime that they fled and the third being the lack of Canadian experience. Despite a high level of education and professional experience, 54 percent of 892 immigrants were unemployed, and, of the 407 with jobs, 40 percent had professional positions; 24 percent, lower white-collar; 30 percent, blue-collar; 3 percent, service; and 3 percent, not stated.[2]

Community life[edit]

Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa

The patterns of formal association among Iraqis are new and voluntary, as revealed most notably in the Iraqi Community Center link title based in Cote Des Neiges, Montreal. They help Iraqis adapt to Canada and develop ties with the general society, and they disseminate information about the ethnocultural heritage of Iraqi Canadians. Gender equity is the norm; the president of the Iraqi Canadian Society is a woman.[2]

Culture[edit]

Despite differences in dialect, Iraqi Canadians see themselves as Arabs. Almost all Iraqi immigrants wish to maintain the Arabic language in both oral and written forms. Because young children and Canadian-born ones cannot easily learn reading and writing skills, more emphasis is put on teaching oral skills. Many Canadian-born can understand spoken Arabic without being able to speak it. Gender equity, which has expanded in Iraq itself, is encouraged in Canada. Marriage for both males and females remains principally endogamous.

There is a sizable number of Iraqi Christians in Canada.Christian denominations include Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Nestorian, and several rites of Catholicism. The remaining 40 percent are Muslims, either Shiite or Sunni. In contrast to Iraq, where just over half the country’s Muslims are Shiite, among Iraqis in Canada as in the Arab world as a whole, Sunni are by far the majority.[2]

Prominent Iraqis in Canada and Canadians of Iraqi descent[edit]

References[edit]