Hinduism in Canada

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Canadian Hindus
BAPS Toronto Mandir front.jpg
Total population
497,000 (2011)
1.45% of the Canadian Population
Regions with significant populations
British Columbia45,795
Canadian English, Canadian French
Hindi • Punjabi • Gujarati • Bengali • Tamil • Marathi • Telugu • Kannada • Indian Languages
Sanskrit and Old Tamil

Hinduism is a religious group in Canada, which is followed by nearly 1.5% of nation's total population.[1] As of 2011, there are nearly 497,000 Canadians of the Hindu faith.[2] Canadian Hindus generally come from one of three groups. The first group is primarily made up of Indian immigrants who began arriving in British Columbia about 110 years ago.[3] Hindus from all over India continue to immigrate today, with the largest Indian ethnic subgroups being Gujaratis and Punjabis.[4][5] This first wave of immigrants also includes Hindu immigrants who were of Indian descent from nations that were historically under European colonial rule, such as Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and parts of coastal Eastern Africa.[6] The second major group of Hindus immigrated from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. In the case of Sri Lankan Hindus, their history in Canada goes back to the 1940s, when a few hundred Sri Lankan Tamils migrated to Canada.[7] The 1983 communal riots in Sri Lanka precipitated the mass exodus of Tamils with over 500,000 finding refuge in countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France and Switzerland. From then on, Sri Lankan Tamils have been immigrating to Canada in particular around Toronto and Greater Toronto Area. A third group is made up of Canadian converts to the various sects of Hinduism through the efforts of the Hare Krishna movement and their Gurus during the last 50 years.[8] The Toronto district of Scarborough has a particularly high concentration of Hindus, with Hinduism being the dominant religion in several neighbourhoods.[9]

According to the 2011 census, there are 497,200 Hindus in Canada, up from 297,200 in the 2001 census.[2]

Hindu Population & Demographics[edit]

Historical population
1971 9,790—    
1981 69,505+610.0%
1991 157,015+125.9%
2001 297,200+89.3%
2011 497,200+67.3%
1971 is partial and based on immigration data, real figure is substantially higher.[10]
Year Percent Increase in pop. % Increase in %
1971 0.05% -
1981 0.28% +0.23% 460%
1991 0.56% +0.28% 100%
2001 0.96% +0.40% 92%
2011 1.45% +0.49% 51%

By province[edit]

The Hindu Population in Canada according to the 2011 National Household Survey.[2]

Province 2001 Census 2011 Census
Hindus pop Hindus %
Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 217,560 1.9% 366,720 2.9%
Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 31,495 0.8% 45,795 1.0%
Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 15,965 0.5% 36,845 1.0%
Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec 24,525 0.3% 33,540 0.4%
Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 3,835 0.3% 7,720 0.6%
Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 1,590 0.2% 3,570 0.3%
Flag of Nova Scotia.svg Nova Scotia 1,235 0.1% 1,850 0.2%
Flag of New Brunswick.svg New Brunswick 470 0.1% 820 0.1%
Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador 400 0.1% 635 0.1%
Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg Prince Edward Island 30 0.0% 205 0.1%
Flag of Yukon.svg Yukon 10 0.0% 165 0.5%
Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg Northwest Territories 60 0.2% 70 0.2%
Flag of Nunavut.svg Nunavut 10 0.0% 30 0.1%
Flag of Canada.svg Canada 297,200 1.0% 497,200 1.5%

By federal electoral district (2011)[edit]

The Hindu Population in Canada by federal electoral district according to the 2011 National Household Survey.[2]


1. Brampton East - 19.5%
2. Scarborough—Rouge Park - 18.6%
3. Markham—Thornhill - 16.8%
4. Scarborough—Guildwood - 16.2%
5. Scarborough North - 14.5%
6. Etobicoke North - 14.4%
7. Scarborough Centre - 13.2%
8. Mississauga—Malton - 12.8%
9. Brampton West - 11.8%
10. Brampton North - 10.9%

British Columbia[edit]

1. Surrey—Newton - 6.2%
2. Surrey Centre - 4.9%
3. Vancouver South - 3.4%
4. Fleetwood—Port Kells - 3.3%
5. Delta - 3.0%
6. Vancouver Kingsway - 2.5%
7. Burnaby South - 2.4%


1. Edmonton Mill Woods - 4.8%
2. Calgary Skyview - 4.5%
3. Edmonton Riverbend - 3.0%
4. Calgary Forest Lawn - 2.2%
5. Calgary Nose Hill - 1.9%


1. Papineau - 4.3%
2. Pierrefonds—Dollard - 4.0%
3. Saint-Laurent - 3.2%


1. Winnipeg South - 3.0%

Early Hindus[edit]

Early Hindus maintained their religious traditions in mostly hostile environment which viewed the so-called colored immigrants as a threat to the British culture and way of life of the time.[3] These male pioneers could not marry brides from India up until the 1930s, and did not have the right to vote in Federal elections until 1947. Religious life was centered around homes and Bhajans organized by community members.[11]

Since the 1960s many westerners attracted by the world view presented in Asian religious systems including Hinduism have converted to Hinduism.[12] Canada was no exception. Many native born Canadians of various ethnicities have converted during the last 50 years through the actions of ISKCON, Arya Samaj and other missionary organizations as well as due to the visits and guidance of Indian Gurus such as Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Sathya Sai Baba, the controversial Rajneesh and others.[13][14]

Later Immigrant Hindus[edit]

Due to the liberalization of Canadian immigration policies many Hindus from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, along with Hindu Indian diasporic communities in Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and eastern African nations such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have arrived in the metropolises of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver from the 1960s onwards.[15] In last 20 years many Hindus from Nepal have migrated to Canada. It is estimated that approximately 8000 to 10000 Nepalese Hindus are residing in Canada with their main concentration in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. Canada government has pledged to resettle 6500 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese ethnicity by 2012.The majority of Bhutanese Nepali are Hindus. By 2014 Lethbridge was home to the largest Bhutanese community in Canada.[16] Nearly 6,600 Bhutanese Nepali, also called Lhotshampa had settled in Canada by the end of 2015, with approximately 1,300 in Lethbridge by August 2016.[17]

Temple Societies[edit]

These communities have formed over 1000 temple societies across the country that essentially functions community organizations. Some of these associations also have established private schools in Tamil to compete with non-religious and Catholic school boards that most Hindu students go to.[18]

One among the earliest Hindu temples in Canada was established in rural Nova Scotia, in Auld's Cove, near the border to Cape Breton Islands, in 1971. Hindu Sanstha of Nova Scotia was formed by some 25 families living in the area at the time. Lord Krishna is primary deity, and Indian community families from Sydney, Antigonish, New Glasgow, and even Halifax often assemble together to celebrate Hindu festivals. Temple welcomes everyone, people of different faith and culture, to participate in the festivals, in a growing multi-cultural population of the region.

The largest Hindu temple in Canada is BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto . It consists of two separate buildings, one of them being the mandir itself and the other being the Haveli, home to a large Sabha Hall, several religious bookstores, a small prayer room, the country's largest Indo-Canadian museum, a water fountain and a large gymnasium. It is the only Mandir built using Hindu traditions. The temple is built in the traditional Hindu style of Shikharbaddha mandir, which is made accordingly to the principles laid out in Shilpa Shastras, scared Hindu texts that describe the canons of traditionally architecture, and describes how the structure of a shikharbaddha mandir symbolically reflects the body of Purusha, or Cosmic Man.[19] It took $40 million to build and opened in 2007, surpassing Hindu Sabha Temple in nearby Brampton, which held the old record. The entire mandir is 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2).[20][21]



There are several organizations representing the Hindu community in Canada. Among them the Hindu Canadian Network is the most prominent umbrella organization.[22][23]

Contemporary Society[edit]

According to a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in 2013, 42% of the Canadians had a favorable opinion of Hinduism which increased to 49% in the 2016 survey. When asked—would it be acceptable or unacceptable to you if one of your children were to marry a Hindu—in February 2017, 54% Canadians said that it would be acceptable, as compared to 37% in September 2013.

According to another survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 32% of respondents say that the influence of Hinduism “in Canada and Canadian public life” is growing. However, the study also found that a majority of Canadians (67%) “don’t know anything/understand very little” about Hinduism, while 4% “understand very well”.[24]

Community and Impact[edit]

Hindus in Canada are able to create communities that not only follow religious practices but also provide education, counselling, support and outreach services. These communities allow many Hindus from overseas to comfortably adapt when immigrating to Canada. When Hindu institutions and worldviews are not mirrored in the migrated country, it can hinder the process of adaptation through isolation and loss of identity.[25] Racial-ethnic identity development involves identifying with and relating to a specific group and is found to be associated with particular health behaviors and mental health outcomes.[26] Hindu communities enable Hindu immigrants and their descendants to preserve their culture and identity despite their displacement and maintain physical and symbolic links with their source country; especially immigrants who have been exiled and feel uprooted from their national and cultural identity.


Many Hindus do not feel connected to the political centres of Canada, and get little attention from politicians. Deepak Obhrai was the first and only Hindu MP in Canada.[27] Dipika Damerla, is the first, and so far only, person from the Hindu community to become a provincial cabinet minister.[28] Other Hindu politicians are Vim Kochhar (the first Hindu appointed to the Senate),[29] Raj Sherman (the first Hindu to lead a Canadian political party),[30] Bidhu Jha (the first Hindu elected to the Manitoba legislature).[31]

Anita Anand is the first Hindu cabinet minister in Canada. She became a cabinet minister in 2019.[32]

Attack on Hindu Community[edit]

  • In 2013 a Hindu temple in Surrey had three windows smashed. A baseball bat found there after the attack had Sikh markings.[33]
  • In 2018,the Montreal-based production house “Art of Where' advertised yoga-capris carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh. Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism called this highly inappropriate as it hurts Hindus. He also urged “Art of Where” to offer a formal apology.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada; Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2014-06-19). "Canadian Demographics at a Glance, Second edition". www150.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  2. ^ a b c d "2011 National Household Survey". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Indo-Canadians in 1920s and 1930s" (PDF). AHSNB Project. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  4. ^ Pritam. "Top 5 Reasons For High Gujarati Population In Canada". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  5. ^ "Punjabi among top three immigrant languages in Canada". Hindustan Times. 2017-08-03. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  6. ^ Wood, John R. (1978). "East Indians and Canada's New Immigration Policy". Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques. 4 (4): 547–567. doi:10.2307/3549977. ISSN 0317-0861. JSTOR 3549977.
  7. ^ Adler, Mike (2019-12-24). "Opinion | For some Tamil-Canadians in Scarborough, Sri Lanka's war isn't over". Toronto.com. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  8. ^ "Hare Krishna abandoned street chanting in robes years ago". torontosun. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  9. ^ "Hare Krishna: The Rise in Krishna Consciousness". HuffPost Canada. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  10. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2013-05-08). "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables – Religion (108), Immigrant Status and Period of Immigration (11), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  11. ^ "Hinduism | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  12. ^ "CATHOLIC CANADIAN CONVERTED TO HINDUISM". THE HINDU PORTAL - spiritual media to elevate Indian culture, spirituality. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  13. ^ Coward, Harold; Hinnells, John R.; Williams, Raymond Brady (2012-02-01). The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-9302-1.
  14. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2010-09-30). The Hindus: An Alternative History. OUP. ISBN 978-0-19-959334-7.
  15. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2012-04-17). "East Indian". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  16. ^ Tams, Kim (13 May 2014). "Lethbridge home to the largest Bhutanese community in Canada". Global News. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  17. ^ Klingbeil, Annalise (22 August 2016). "How Lethbridge became Canada's Bhutanese capital". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  18. ^ "History of South Asians in Canada: Timeline · South Asian Canadian Heritage". South Asian Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  19. ^ Elgood, Heather (2000). Hinduism and the religious arts. London: Cassell. ISBN 978-0-8264-9865-6. OCLC 271467496.
  20. ^ "Hindu Sabha Temple Hall Rentals - Hall Rentals in Brampton, ON". localservices.sulekha.com. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  21. ^ Grant, Hamish (2007-02-21), Hindu Sabha Mandir, Brampton, retrieved 2021-04-02
  22. ^ "THE BELINDA STRONACH FOUNDATION | Tony Blair and Belinda Stronach Join in collaboration with Canadian faith and belief leaders". Newswire.ca. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  23. ^ [1] Archived September 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "32 percent Canadians feel Hinduism influence growing". 17 November 2017.
  25. ^ Trouillet, Pierre-Yves (2012-12-28). "Overseas Temples and Tamil Migratory Space". South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (6). doi:10.4000/samaj.3415. ISSN 1960-6060.
  26. ^ "Adaptation and Acculturation | Caring for Kids New to Canada". www.kidsnewtocanada.ca. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-27. Retrieved 2019-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Hindu community is slowly coming of age in Canadian politics". Hindustan Times. 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  29. ^ "India-born CEO appointed senator in Canada". Hindustan Times. 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  30. ^ "Living in interesting times could prove to be a curse". StAlbertToday.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  31. ^ "Bihar and Jharkhand - Directory of Achievers: Mr.Bidhu Jha". biharandjharkhand.com. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  32. ^ "Meet Anita Indira Anand, a law professor who became Canada's first Hindu minister". City: World. Businessinsider. 21 November 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  33. ^ "Surrey Hindu temple vandals caught on camera". cbc.ca. 24 June 2013.
  34. ^ "Home » YesPunjab.com". YesPunjab.com. Retrieved 2021-06-04.

External links[edit]