17.7% of the Canadian population (2016)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Western Canada · Central Canada · Urban|
less prevalent in the Atlantic and North
|Canadian English · Canadian French|
Mandarin · Cantonese · Punjabi · Arabic · Tagalog
Other Asian languages
|Christianity · Buddhism and other East Asian religions · Islam · Hinduism · Sikhism · Judaism · Non-religious · Other|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Asian Americans · Asian Australians · Asian Britons · Asian New Zealanders · Asian people|
Asian Canadians are Canadians who can trace their ancestry back to the continent of Asia or Asian people. Canadians with Asian ancestry comprise both the largest and fastest growing group in Canada, after European Canadians, with roughly 17.7% of the Canadian population. Most Asian Canadians are concentrated in the urban areas of Southern Ontario, Southwestern British Columbia, Central Alberta, and other large Canadian cities.
In the Canadian Census, people with origins or ancestry in East Asia (e.g. Chinese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Japanese Canadians, Tibetan Canadians), South Asia (e.g. Bangladeshi Canadians, Indian Canadians, Pakistani Canadians, Sri Lankan Canadians), Southeast Asia (e.g. Laotian Canadians, Cambodian Canadians, Filipino Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians), West Asia (e.g. Iranian Canadians, Iraqi Canadians, Israeli Canadians, Lebanese Canadians, Turkish Canadians), or Central Asia (e.g. Afghan Canadians, Uzbek Canadians, Kazakh Canadians) are all classified as part of the Asian race.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2020)
The first record of Asians in what is known as Canada today can be dated back to the late 18th century. In 1788, renegade British Captain John Meares hired a group of Chinese carpenters from Macau and employed them to build a ship at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.: 312 After the outpost was seized by Spanish forces, the eventual whereabouts of the carpenters was largely unknown.
During the mid 19th century, many Chinese arrived to take part in the British Columbia gold rushes. Beginning in 1858, early settlers formed Victoria's Chinatown and other Chinese communities in New Westminster, Yale and Lillooet. Estimates indicate that about 1/3 of the non-native population of the Fraser goldfields was Chinese. Later, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway prompted another wave of immigration from the East Asian country. Mainly hailing from Guangdong Province, the Chinese helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Fraser Canyon.
Many Japanese people also arrived in Canada during the mid to late 19th century and became fishermen and merchants in British Columbia. Early immigrants from the East Asian island nation most notably worked in canneries such as Steveston along the pacific coast.
Similarly in the late 19th century, many Indians hailing from Punjab Province settled in British Columbia and worked in the forestry industry. Most early immigrants hailing from South Asia first settled around sawmill towns along the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia such as Kitsilano, Fraser Mills and Queensborough. Later, many Indian immigrants also settled on Vancouver Island, working on local sawmills in Victoria, Coombs, Duncan, Ocean Falls and Paldi.
Early West Asian Canadian history featured Lebanese and Syrians first immigrating in Canada during the late 19th century; as both countries were under Ottoman dominion at the time they were originally known as Turks. Settling in the Montreal area of southern Quebec, they became the first West Asian group to immigrate to Canada. The first Lebanese immigrant to Canada was Abraham Bounadere (Ibrahim Abu Nadir) from Zahlé in Lebanon who settled in Montreal in 1882. Because of situations within Lebanon and restrictive Canadian laws these immigrants were 90% Christian. These immigrants were mostly economic migrants seeking greater prosperity in the New World.
Similar to late 19th century through early 20th century Lebanese immigration and settler patterns, while the vast majority of Syrians migrated to South America, a small percentage made their way to America, and an even smaller percentage settled in Canada. Once again, in a similar demographic to early Lebanese settlers to Canada, the overwhelming majority of Syrians who settled in Canada from the 1880s-1960s were of the Christian faith. The so-called Shepard of the lost flock, Saint Raphael Hawaweeny of Brooklyn, New York, came to Montreal in 1896 to help establish a Christian association called the Syrian Benevolent Society and then later on an Orthodox church in Montreal for the newly arrived Syrian faithful.
By 1884 Nanaimo, New Westminster, Yale and Victoria had the largest Chinese populations in the province. Other settlements such as Quesnelle Forks were majority Chinese and many early immigrants from the East Asian country settled on Vancouver Island, most notably in Cumberland. In addition to work on the railway, most Chinese in the late 19th century British Columbia lived among other Chinese and worked in market gardens, coal mines, sawmills, and salmon canneries.
In 1885, soon after the construction on the railway was completed, the federal government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, whereby the government began to charge a substantial head tax for each Chinese person trying to immigrate to Canada. A decade later, the fear of the "Yellow Peril" prompted the government of Mackenzie Bowell to pass an act forbidding any East Asian Canadian from voting or holding office.
Many Chinese workers settled in Canada after the railway was constructed, however most could not bring the rest of their families, including immediate relatives, due to government restrictions and enormous processing fees. They established Chinatowns and societies in undesirable sections of the cities, such as East Pender Street in Vancouver, which had been the focus of the early city's red-light district until Chinese merchants took over the area from the 1890s onwards.
Immigration restrictions stemming from anti-Asian sentiment in Canada continued during the early 20th century. Parliament voted to increase the Chinese head tax to $500 dollars in 1902; this temporarily caused Chinese immigration to Canada to stop. However, in following years, Chinese immigration to Canada recommenced as many saved up money to pay the head tax. Due to the decrease in Chinese immigration, Steamship lines began recruiting Indians to make up for the loss of business; the Fraser River Canners' Association and the Kootchang Fruit Growers' Association asked the Canadian government to abolish immigration restrictions. Letters from persons settling in Canada gave persons still in India encouragement to move to Canada, and there was an advertising campaign to promote British Columbia as an immigration destination. Around that time, in 1902, a notable moment of Asian Canadian history occurred when Punjabi Sikh settlers first arrived in Golden, British Columbia to work at the Columbia River Lumber Company.
The early Punjabi Sikh settlers in Golden built the first Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) in Canada and North America in 1905, which would later be destroyed by fire in 1926. The second Gurdwara to be built in Canada was in 1908 in Kitsilano (Vancouver), aimed at serving a growing number of Punjabi Sikh settlers who worked at nearby sawmills along False Creek at the time. The Gurdwara would later close and be demolished in 1970, with the temple society relocating to the newly built Gurdwara on Ross Street, in South Vancouver. As a result, the oldest existing Gurdwara in Canada today is the Gur Sikh Temple, located in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Built in 1911, the temple was designated as a national historic site of Canada in 2002 and is the third-oldest Gurdwara in the country. Soon later, the fourth Gurdwara to be built Canada was established at the Fraser Mills (Coquitlam) settlement in 1913 followed by the fifth at the Queensborough (New Westminster) settlement in 1919, and the sixth at the Paldi (Vancouver Island) settlement, also in 1919.
Heightened anti-Asian sentiment resulted in the infamous anti-Asian pogrom in Vancouver in 1907. Spurred by similar riots in Bellingham targeting South Asian settlers, The Asiatic Exclusion League organized attacks against homes and businesses owned by East Asian immigrants under the slogan "White Canada Forever!"; though no one was killed, much property damage was done and numerous East Asian Canadians were beaten up.
In 1908, the British Columbia government passed a law preventing South Asian Canadians from voting. Because eligibility for federal elections originated from provincial voting lists, Indians were also unable to vote in federal elections. Later, the Canadian government enacted a $200 head tax and passed the continuous journey regulation which indirectly halted Indian immigration to Canada, thus restricting all immigration from South Asia.
A direct result of the continuous journey regulation was the Komagata Maru Incident in Vancouver. In May 1914, hundreds of South Asians hailing from Punjab were denied entry into the country, eventually forced to depart for India. By 1916, despite a declining population due to immigration restrictions, many Indian settlers established the Paldi mill colony on Vancouver Island.
In 1923, the federal government passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which banned all Chinese immigration, and led to immigration restrictions for all East Asians. In 1947, the act was repealed.
The second world war prompted the federal government used the War Measures Act to brand Japanese Canadians enemy aliens and categorized them as security threats in 1942. Tens of thousands of Japanese Canadians were placed in internment camps in British Columbia; prison of war camps in Ontario; and families were also sent as forced labourers to farms throughout the prairies. By 1943, all properties owned by Japanese Canadians in British Columbia were seized and sold without consent.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 resulted in a spike of immigration to Canada from the West Asian country. In the aftermath, many Iranian-Canadians began to categorize themselves as "Persian" rather than "Iranian", mainly to dissociate themselves from the Islamic regime of Iran and the negativity associated with it, and also to distinguish themselves as being of Persian ethnicity.
During and after the Vietnam War, a large wave of Vietnamese refugees began arriving in Canada. The Canadian Parliament created the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada in 1985 to better address issues surrounding Asia–Canada relations, including trade, citizenship and immigration. When Hong Kong reverted to mainland Chinese rule, people emigrated and found new homes in Canada.
In 2016, the Canadian government issued a full apology in Parliament for the Komagata Maru Incident.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 48.1% of the immigrant population in Canada was born in Asia. Furthermore, Asian countries accounted for seven of the top ten countries of birth for recent immigrants, including the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and South Korea.
In recent decades, a large number of people have come to Canada from India and other South Asian countries. As of 2016, South Asians make up nearly 17 percent of the Greater Toronto Area's population, and are projected to make up 24 percent of the region's population by 2031.
Today, Asian Canadians form a significant minority within the population, and over 6 million ethnic Asians call Canada their home. Asian Canadian students, in particular those of East Asian or South Asian background, make up the majority of students at several Canadian universities.
|Year||Population||% of total population|
The Canadian population who reported full or partial Asian ethnic origin, including West Central Asian and Middle Eastern, according to the 2016 census:
|Province or territory||Asian origins||%|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||10,090||2.0%|
|Prince Edward Island||6,485||4.6%|
While the Asian Canadian population is diverse, many have ancestry from a few select countries in the continent. Nearly four million or 66% of Asian Canadians can trace their roots to just three countries; China, India and the Philippines.
Knowledge of language
As of 2016, 6,044,885 or 17.5 percent of Canadians speak an Asian language. Of this, the top five Asian tongues spoken include Mandarin (13.5%), Cantonese (11.6%), Punjabi (11.1%), Arabic (10.4%) and Tagalog (10.1%).
- Languages with 5,000 or more speakers listed.
|#||Knowledge of language||Population (2016)||% of Asian languages (2016)|
|5||Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino)||612,735||10.14%|
(Chaochow, Teochow, Fukien, Taiwanese)
|37||Indo-Iranian languages, n.i.e.||8,875||0.15%|
|43||Austronesian languages, n.i.e.||5,585||0.09%|
|45||Pampangan (Kapampangan, Pampango)||5,425||0.09%|
As of 2016, 4,217,365 or 12.2 percent of Canadians speak an Asian language as a mother tongue. Of this, the top five Asian tongues spoken include Mandarin (14.0%), Cantonese (13.4%), Punjabi (11.9%), Tagalog (10.2%) and Arabic (10.0%).
- Languages with 10,000 or more speakers listed.
|#||Mother Tongue||Population (2016)||% of Asian languages (2016)|
|4||Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino)||431,385||10.23%|
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (April 2020)
Subdivisions with notable Asian Canadians
Source: Canada 2016 Census
National average: 17.7%
- Richmond (74.8%)
- Greater Vancouver Electoral District A (65.7%)
- Burnaby (60.1%)
- Surrey (54.3%)
- Vancouver (49.6%)
- Coquitlam (48.2%)
- West Vancouver (38.0%)
- New Westminster (35.0%)
- Delta (34.4%)
- Abbotsford (31.8%)
- North Vancouver (31.0%)
- Port Coquitlam (29.9%)
- Port Moody (28.7%)
- North Vancouver (district) (25.8%)
- Saanich (21.0%)
- Winnipeg (23.2%)
- Markham (73.9%)
- Richmond Hill (59.3%)
- Brampton (54.7%)
- Mississauga (47.0%)
- Toronto (40.1%)
- Ajax (36.9%)
- Milton (34.6%)
- Whitchurch-Stouffville (33.7%)
- Vaughan (33.5%)
- Pickering (29.5%)
- Oakville (26.5%)
- Aurora (24.5%)
- Waterloo (23.6%)
- Windsor (22.6%)
- Newmarket (22.5%)
- Ottawa (19.6%)
- Dollard-des-Ormeaux (35.4%)
- Brossard (32.3%)
- Mont Royal (30.5%)
- Kirkland (24.1%)
- Cote-Saint-Luc (21.8%)
- Westmount (20.1%)
- Pointe-Claire (19.8%)
- Montreal (18.1%)
- Lloydminster (20.4%)
- Cultural assimilation of Asian immigrants in Canada
- Demographics of Canada
- Immigration to Canada
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
- East Asian Canadians
- South Asian Canadians
- West Asian Canadians
- Asian Americans
- Asian Argentines
- Asian Australians
- Asian Brazilians
- Asian New Zealanders
- Asian people
- Asian Canadian Website
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
- 2001 demographics from Statistics Canada
- Information for South Asians and Indians in Canada
- Asian Canadian Wiki
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- "FIRST SIKH TEMPLE IN NORTH AMERICA". March 10, 2021.
The first Sikhs came to Golden about 1902, arriving to work in the sawmill of the Columbia River Lumber Company. When the Sikhs arrived in Golden the community was in its infancy and the sawmill had recently opened. The Columbia River Lumber Company recognized the value of these tall strong men and had no problem with the men. They hired them to work in the lumberyard, planer, and sawmill. The first documented proof that we have of South Asians of the Sikh faith being residents of Golden is a copy of a telegram sent to G.T. Bradshaw, Chief of Police, New Westminster from Colin Cameron, Chief of Police, Golden, BC on July 20, 1902. It was sent collect and reads: Geha Singh of Golden sent a telegram to Santa Singh care of Small and Bucklin for one thousand dollars.
- "Sikhs celebrate history in Golden". April 26, 2018.
The original temple in Golden sat on a corner of a lot, in the south western area of town at the end of the street looking toward where Rona is now. The largest influx of men came from South Asia around 1905, which would be the time period that the temple in Golden would have began services. In 1926, a fire burned the timber limits of the Columbia River Lumber Company, where the South Asian men worked.
- "Golden's Sikh heritage recognized on new Stop of Interest sign". November 9, 2016.
“We acknowledge the Gurdwara in Golden as the first in B.C., and quite likely the first in North America,” said Pyara Lotay, on behalf of the local Sikh community. “We thank the B.C. government for recognizing Golden’s Sikh pioneers and their place of worship with this Stop of Interest.”
- "Golden Gurdwara is recognized for its historical significance". June 7, 2017.
The original temple sat on the corner of a lot, which is now owned by Gurmit Manhas, at the end of the street past the School Board Office looking towards the Rona. Plans are being put together to erect a kiosk there that would share information about the original building, the first South Asian people to Canada, the importance of the Gurdwara to the Sikh people and the history of why they left and what brought them back. The largest influx of men came from South Asia in about 1905-06, which would be the time period that the Temple would have begun services. In 1926 a fire burned the timber limits of the Columbia River Lumber Company, where all the South Asian men worked and the men left for the coast having no work to do. When the forest started to grow back the men came back and soon it was necessary to build the present Gurdwara on 13th Street South.
- "First Sikh Temple • Vancouver Heritage Foundation".
- "New Westminster Sikh temple celebrates 100-year anniversary". March 3, 2019.
The Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar is one of the oldest Sikh temples in the country and its members are celebrating the milestone anniversary by reflecting on its historic significance to the local Sikh community. The temple was actually founded more than 100 years ago when a pioneering Sikh named Bhai Bishan Singh bought a house next door to where the building is now. Singh paid $250 for the house, which served as a place of worship until the congregation grew too large. In 1919, Singh bought the neighbouring lot at 347 Wood Street and the Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar was born.
- "New Westminster Sikh temple welcomes community to celebrate its centennial anniversary". February 27, 2019.
The Khalsa Diwan Society New Westminster is inviting community members to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar in Queensborough. Since opening in 1919, the temple has become an integral part of the Queensborough and New Westminster communities, and has provided a place for Sikhs from New Westminster and the Lower Mainland to gather and to worship. “It is starting up on Thursday and it will be four days, with the main event on Sunday. It’s open to anyone within the community – in Queensborough and in New West. It’s to show support, learn about each other and the heritage,” said Jag Sall, a member of the committee that’s organizing the celebration. “I don’t think a lot of people know that the Sikh community has been in Queensborough for over 100 years, and/or the gurdwara itself has been there that long. Not just the Sikh community, but other communities in Queensborough have been living there for a century.”
- "The Gurdwara of New West Shares a Century of Stories". January 23, 2020.
Every Sunday in 1919, the Sikhs of Queensborough on the Fraser River would stroll over to the house of Bhai Bishan Singh for worship. Singh, like many Punjabi immigrants, settled in the New Westminster neighbourhood because he worked upriver at a sawmill. A devout Sikh, he had the holy scripture installed in his home, the Guru Granth Sahib. Singh was a bachelor and gave much of his earnings to the local Khalsa Diwan Society, which in 1908 had built B.C.’s first gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, in Vancouver. In March 1919, Singh helped the Sikhs of New Westminster start a gurdwara of their own. For $250, Singh bought the property next door and donated it to the society. Later, he would donate his house as well.
- "Paldi Sikh Temple in Cowichan celebrating 100 years". June 26, 2019.
The town’s cultural centres were the Japanese community hall and the Sikh Temple, which officially opened July 1, 1919, to coincide with Dominion Day.
- "Sikh temple celebrates 100 years of acceptance in Vancouver Island ghost town". June 29, 2019.
Paldi's Gurdwara was built in 1919 and soon became one of the most important fixtures of the community, even surviving several town fires.
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In 1919, Mayo built a Sikh temple, or a gurdwara.
- "PALDI: Town soaked in Sikh History".
Wherever there are five or more Sikh’s there will be Sikh Temple even just a spare room in some ones house. Therefore it was only that once the natural that once the mill and bunkhouses were erected the next building should be a Temple. The first official Temple in Paldi was built in 1919. On the same spot where the present Temple is located.
- Nayar, The Punjabis in British Columbia, page 15.
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... the majority of the participants self-identified themselves as Persian instead of Iranian, due to the stereotypes and negative portrayals of Iranians in the media and politics. Adolescents from Jewish and Baha'i faiths asserted their religious identity more than their ethnic identity. The fact Iranians use Persian interchangeably is nothing to do with current Iranian government because the name Iran was used before this period as well. Linguistically modern Persian is a branch of Old Persian in the family of Indo-European languages and that includes all the minorities as well more inclusively.
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