Asian Canadians

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Asian Canadians
Asian ancestry in Canada.png
Asian ancestry % in Canada (2016)
Total population
6,095,235
17.7% of the Canadian population (2016)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Western Canada · Central Canada · Urban
less prevalent in the Atlantic and North
Languages
Canadian English · Canadian French
Mandarin · Cantonese · Punjabi · Arabic · Tagalog
Other Asian languages
Religion
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 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.

Asian Canadians are considered visible minorities and may be classified as East Asian Canadians, South Asian Canadians, Southeast Asian Canadians, or West Asian Canadians.[2]

Terminology[edit]

In the Canadian Census, people with origins or ancestry in East Asia (e.g. Chinese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Japanese 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.

History[edit]

Chinese labourers working on the Canadian Pacific Railway, 1884
South Asians at a lumber camp in British Columbia, circa 1914
Damage after the September 1907 anti-asian riot in Vancouver
Indians in Vancouver, 1908
South Asians aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver, 1914
Founding members of the Canadian Japanese Association at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Vancouver, 1920.

18th century[edit]

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.[3]:312 After the outpost was seized by Spanish forces, the eventual whereabouts of the carpenters was largely unknown.

19th century[edit]

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.[4][5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Later, many Indian immigrants also settled on Vancouver Island, working on local sawmills in Victoria, Coombs, Duncan, Ocean Falls and Paldi.[8]

Lebanese and Syrians also first immigrated in Canada during the late 19th century; as both countries were under Ottoman dominion at the time they were originally branded as Turks. Settling in the Montreal area of southern Quebec, they became the first West Asian group to immigrate to Canada.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[12]

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.[13]

20th century[edit]

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.[14]

Heightened anti-Asian sentiment resulted in the infamous anti-Asian pogrom in Vancouver. 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.[15] 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.[16]

During the first world war, Turkish Canadians were placed in “enemy alien" internment camps.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19][20]

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.

21st century[edit]

In 2016, the Canadian government issued a full apology in parliament for the Komagata Maru Incident.

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.[21]

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.

Demography[edit]

Asian Canadian population in Canada
Year Population % of total population
1871[22][23] 4 0%
1881[22] 4,383 0.1%
1901[22] 23,731 0.44%
1911[22] 43,213 0.6%
1921[22][23] 65,914 0.75%
1931[22][23] 84,548 0.81%
1941[22][23] 74,064 0.64%
1951[22][23] 72,827 0.52%
1961[22][23][24] 121,753 0.67%
1971[22][23][24] 285,540 1.32%
1981[24] 694,830 2.89%
1991[24] 1,607,230 5.95%
1996[25][26] 2,591,160 8.98%
2001[27] 3,234,290 10.91%
2006[28] 4,181,755 13.39%
2011[29] 5,011,225 15.25%
2016[30] 6,095,235 17.69%

Population[edit]

The Canadian population who reported full or partial Asian ethnic origin, including West Central Asian and Middle Eastern, according to the 2016 census:[31]

Province or territory Asian origins %
 Ontario 3,100,455 23.4%
 British Columbia 1,312,445 28.8%
 Alberta 756,335 19.0%
 Québec 563,150 7.1%
 Manitoba 178,650 14.4%
 Saskatchewan 99,125 9.3%
 Nova Scotia 42,495 4.7%
 New Brunswick 19,410 2.7%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 10,090 2.0%
 Prince Edward Island 6,485 4.6%
 Northwest Territories 3,125 7.6%
 Yukon 2,855 8.1%
 Nunavut 615 1.7%
 Canada 6,095,235 17.7%

Ethnic Origins[edit]

Pie chart of the Pan-Ethnic breakdown of Asian Canadians from the 2016 census.[32]

  East Asian (34.2%)
  South Asian (31.3%)
  Southeast Asian (18.9%)
  West Asian (13.6%)
  Central Asian (2.0%)

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.

Population of Asian Canadian Groups, 2016 Census[31]
Ethnic Origins Population
Chinese Canadians 1,769,195
Indian Canadians 1,374,715
Filipino Canadians 851,410
Vietnamese Canadians 240,615
Lebanese Canadians 219,555
Pakistani Canadians 215,560
Iranian Canadians 210,405
Korean Canadians 198,210
Sri Lankan Canadians 152,595
Japanese Canadians 121,485
Punjabi Canadians 118,395
Arab Canadians
(not otherwise specified)
111,405
Afghan Canadians 83,995
Syrian Canadians 77,045
South Asian Canadians
(not included elsewhere)
76,400
Iraqi Canadians 70,920
Turkish Canadians 63,995
Armenian Canadians 63,810
Tamil Canadians 48,670
Bangladeshi Canadian 45,940
Palestinian Canadians 44,820
Cambodian Canadians 38,495
Taiwanese Canadians 36,515 (94,000[33]–173,000[34])
Israeli Canadians 28,735
West Central Asian and Middle Eastern
(not included elsewhere)
25,280
Laotian Canadians 24,575
Bengali Canadians 22,900
Other Asian origins
(not included elsewhere)
22,745
Indonesian Canadians 21,395
Thai Canadians 19,010
Nepali Canadians 17,140
Malaysian Canadians 16,920
Kurdish Canadians 16,315
Jordanian Canadians 14,250
Assyrian Canadians 13,830
Burmese Canadians 9,330
Gujarati Canadians 8,350
Tibetan Canadians 8,040
Mongolian Canadians 7,475
Sinhalese Canadians 7,285
Saudi Arabian Canadians 6,810
Yemeni Canadians 6,645
East and Southeast Asian
(not included elsewhere)
6,505
Azerbaijani Canadians 6,425
Goan Canadians 6,070
Tatar Canadians 4,825
Pashtun Canadians 4,810
Georgian Canadians 4,775
Karen Canadians 4,515
Uzbek Canadians 3,920
Bhutanese Canadians 3,600
Kazakh Canadians 3,330
Kashmiri Canadians 3,115
Tajik Canadians 2,905
Singaporean Canadians 2,845
Kuwaiti Canadians 2,240
Uighur Canadians 1,555
Hazara Canadians 1,520
Kyrgyz Canadians 1,055
Turkmen Canadians 1,040
Hmong Canadians 805

Language[edit]

Pie chart breakdown of the spoken Asian language families of Canadians from the 2016 census.[35]

  Indo-Iranian (31.03%)
  Sino-Tibetan (26.78%)
  Semitic (Asian) (13.68%)
  Austronesian (12.28%)
  Dravidian (4.68%)
  Austro-Asiatic (4.21%)
  Koreanic (3.23%)
  Japonic (1.55%)
  Turkic (1.13%)
  Other (1.44%)

Knowledge of language[edit]

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)[36] % of Asian languages (2016)
1 Mandarin 814,450 13.47%
2 Cantonese 699,125 11.57%
3 Punjabi 668,240 11.05%
4 Arabic 629,055 10.41%
5 Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino) 612,735 10.14%
6 Hindi 433,365 7.17%
7 Urdu 322,220 5.33%
8 Persian (Farsi) 252,320 4.17%
9 Vietnamese 198,895 3.29%
10 Tamil 189,860 3.14%
11 Korean 172,755 2.86%
12 Gujarati 149,045 2.47%
13 Bengali 91,220 1.51%
14 Japanese 83,090 1.37%
15 Hebrew 75,020 1.24%
16 Turkish 50,775 0.84%
17 Min Nan
(Chaochow, Teochow, Fukien, Taiwanese)
42,840 0.71%
18 Chinese, n.o.s. 41,690 0.69%
19 Armenian 41,295 0.68%
20 Malayalam 37,810 0.63%
21 Ilocano 34,530 0.57%
22 Sinhala 27,825 0.46%
23 Cebuano 27,045 0.45%
24 Khmer (Cambodian) 27,035 0.45%
25 Pashto 23,180 0.38%
26 Telugu 23,160 0.38%
27 Malay 22,470 0.37%
28 Nepali 21,380 0.35%
29 Sindhi 20,260 0.34%
30 Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 19,745 0.33%
31 Lao 17,235 0.29%
32 Wu (Shanghainese) 16,530 0.27%
33 Marathi 15,570 0.26%
34 Thai 15,390 0.25%
35 Kurdish 15,290 0.25%
36 Hakka 12,445 0.21%
37 Indo-Iranian languages, n.i.e. 8,875 0.15%
38 Kannada 8,245 0.14%
39 Hiligaynon 7,925 0.13%
40 Chaldean Neo-Aramaic 7,115 0.12%
41 Tibetan 7,050 0.12%
42 Konkani 6,790 0.11%
43 Austronesian languages, n.i.e. 5,585 0.09%
44 Azerbaijani 5,450 0.09%
45 Pampangan (Kapampangan, Pampango) 5,425 0.09%
46 Other 37,530 0.62%
Total 6,044,885 100%

Mother Tongue[edit]

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)[37] % of Asian languages (2016)
1 Mandarin 592,035 14.04%
2 Cantonese 565,275 13.4%
3 Punjabi 501,680 11.9%
4 Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino) 431,385 10.23%
5 Arabic 419,895 9.96%
6 Persian (Farsi) 214,200 5.08%
7 Urdu 210,820 5%
8 Vietnamese 156,430 3.71%
9 Korean 153,425 3.64%
10 Tamil 140,720 3.34%
11 Hindi 110,645 2.62%
12 Gujarati 108,775 2.58%
13 Bengali 73,125 1.73%
14 Japanese 43,640 1.03%
15 Chinese, n.o.s. 38,575 0.91%
16 Armenian 33,455 0.79%
17 Turkish 32,815 0.78%
18 Min Nan
(Teochow, Hokkien)
31,795 0.75%
19 Malayalam 28,570 0.68%
20 Ilocano 26,345 0.62%
21 Khmer (Cambodian) 20,130 0.48%
22 Cebuano 19,890 0.47%
23 Hebrew 19,530 0.46%
24 Nepali 18,275 0.43%
25 Pashto 16,910 0.4%
26 Sinhala 16,335 0.39%
27 Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 16,070 0.38%
28 Telugu 15,655 0.37%
29 Wu (Shanghainese) 12,920 0.31%
30 Malay 12,275 0.29%
31 Sindhi 11,860 0.28%
32 Kurdish 11,705 0.28%
33 Hakka 10,910 0.26%
34 Other 101,295 2.4%
Total 4,217,365 100%

Religion[edit]

Subdivisions with notable Asian Canadians[edit]

Chinatown, Vancouver
Vaisakhi Parade 2017, Punjabi Market (Little India), Vancouver
Turkish Canadians at the Victoria Day Parade 2005 in Downtown Victoria
Korean businesses and restaurants along Bloor Street in Toronto's Koreatown.
North York storefronts offering Iranian cuisine. North York has the largest West Asian population in Toronto.

Source: Canada 2016 Census

National average: 17.7%

Alberta[edit]

British Columbia[edit]

Manitoba[edit]

Ontario[edit]

Québec[edit]

Saskatchewan[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census Canada [Country]". Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Classification of visible minority". Statistics Canada. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on July 18, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Laurence J. C. Ma; Carolyn L. Cartier (2003). The Chinese Diaspora: Space, Place, Mobility, and Identity. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-1756-1.
  4. ^ Claiming the Land, Dan Marshall, UBC Ph.D Thesis, 2002 (unpubl.)
  5. ^ McGowan's War, Donald J. Hauka, New Star Books, Vancouver (2000) ISBN 1-55420-001-6
  6. ^ Walton-Roberts and Hiebert, Immigration, Entrepreneurship, and the Family Archived 2014-10-18 at the Wayback Machine, p. 124.
  7. ^ "Sikh Heritage Month: The South Asian pioneers of Fraser Mills".
  8. ^ Das, p. 21 (Archive).
  9. ^ "History of Recent Arab Immigration to Canada".
  10. ^ Lim, Imogene L. "Pacific Entry, Pacific Century: Chinatowns and Chinese Canadian History" (Chapter 2). In: Lee, Josephine D., Imogene L. Lim, and Yuko Matsukawa (editors). Re/collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History. Temple University Press, 2002. ISBN 1439901201, 9781439901205. Start: 15. CITED: p. 18.
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  19. ^ Daha, Maryam (September 2011). "Contextual Factors Contributing to Ethnic Identity Development of Second-Generation Iranian American Adolescents". Journal of Adolescent Research. 26 (5): 543–569. doi:10.1177/0743558411402335. S2CID 146592244. ... 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.
  20. ^ Bozorgmehr, Mehdi (2009). "Iran". In Mary C. Waters; Reed Ueda; Helen B. Marrow (eds.). The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965. Harvard University Press. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-674-04493-7.
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  28. ^ "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
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  36. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census: Canada [Country] and Canada [Country] Language Knowledge of languages".
  37. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census: Canada [Country] and Canada [Country] Language Mother Tongue".