Pakistani Canadians

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Pakistani Canadians
Urdu: پاکستانی کینیڈین
Total population
202,260[1] (0.57%)
Regions with significant populations
 British Columbia12,600
Predominantly Punjabi, English, Urdu, French, Pashto, Sindhi.
Predominantly Sunni Islam with Shi'a Islam large minorities (both Twelvers and Ismailis) and Ahmadiyya, with much smaller minorities of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Christianity and Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Pashtun Canadians, Pakistani Americans, Pakistani diaspora, Muslim Canadians

Pakistani Canadian refers to the community in Canada of Pakistani heritage or descent. It can also refer to people who hold dual Pakistani and Canadian citizenship. Categorically, Pakistani Canadians comprise a subgroup of South Asian Canadians which is a further subgroup of Asian Canadians.

History in Canada[edit]

People from the region that would later become Pakistan were among the pioneers who migrated from British India to British Columbia at the turn of the century. By 1905, as many as 200 participated in the building of that first community from modern-day Pakistan, which for a time had a small makeshift mosque in Vancouver. But most of these immigrants were sojourners rather than settlers, and they either returned to Pakistan in 1947 or moved on to the United States. Subsequently, Canada imposed a ban on South Asian immigration that remained in place until after World War II.

Pakistanis began migrating to Canada in small numbers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Immigration regulations gave preference to those with advanced education and professional skills, and the Pakistanis who came during this period, and throughout the 1960s, generally had excellent credentials. Many of them considered themselves to be sojourners, who had come to earn but not to settle or were students who intended to return home when their degree programs were completed. While some went back, others remained to become the founding members of the Pakistani-Canadian community.[2]

Pakistani nationals were registered in undergraduate and graduate programs at McGill University in Montreal as early as 1949, and at the University of Toronto from 1958 on. By the mid-1950s, there were five or six Pakistani families living in Montreal in addition to the students. This was probably the then largest concentration of Pakistanis in the country. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s most who arrived were young men pursuing graduate or professional studies.

Pakistanis have integrated well into Canadian society, partly due to the Canadian Government's policies and assistance given to all immigrants settling in the country.[3]

Ethnic classification[edit]

Most Pakistani Canadians speak English or French. However, many also speak a second or third language, as they often tend to keep hold of their native tongues, which includes Urdu, Punjabi. There is no official classification of Pakistani Canadians. However, they are usually defined by Asian or South Asian.


Figures from the 2016 Canadian Census from StatsCan indicate that there are about 202,000 Canadians who claim Pakistani ancestry.[1]

  • Toronto

Toronto has the largest Pakistani-Canadian community in the country, with a majority living in the localities of Rexdale, Scarborough, East York particularly in Thorncliffe Park and also its western suburb Milton, Ontario. The commercial centre of Toronto's Pakistani community can be found on Gerrard Street East in East York. A Sizable Pakistani population resides in this area, and is home to couple of Pakistani restaurants and stores. Popular days to visit the street are during Easter, Christmas, Halloween and Hanukkah. Toronto's Pakistani community is quite diverse with people from Muhajirs, and Punjabi backgrounds. A small proportion also reside in the Greater Toronto Area, including Milton, Brampton, and Markham, Ajax.

  • Mississauga

Many of the Pakistanis that live in Mississauga are from Karachi.[citation needed]

  • Milton

Canadians of Pakistani-origin constituted about 1% of the population of Milton in 2011.[4]

  • Vancouver

Vancouver has the fastest growing Pakistani community in Canada.[citation needed] Most Pakistanis who live in Metro Vancouver reside in areas such as Surrey,



Most Pakistani Canadians are Muslims.[5] Religion figures prominently in the lives of Pakistani Canadian families. The majority of Pakistanis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam;[6] In smaller towns in Canada where there may not be mosques within easy access, Pakistani Canadians make trips to attend the nearest one on major religious holidays and occasions.[citation needed] They worship at Masjids alongside other Muslims who might trace their ancestry to all parts of the world; there are generally no separate Pakistani Canadian mosques. Pakistani Canadians also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Canadians, Iranian Canadians, Turkish Canadians, and Asian Canadians.[7]

Pakistani Canadians have played important roles in many organizations, including:


Although the majority of Pakistani Canadians are Muslims, there is a sizable community of Christians as well. In recent times, Pakistani Zoroastrians (called Parsis) have come to Canada mainly from the cities of Karachi. Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs also tend to stay in their own communities and share religious and cultural life with fellow Indian Hindus and Sikhs.


Many Pakistanis have used an adaptation technique, and are accustomed to a bicultural lifestyle. At home they live as traditional a life as possible. The old values and hierarchical decision-making patterns are generally respected, and traditional clothing, food, decorations, and language provide the warmth and reassurance of the familiar.[16]


Pakistani Canadians who are members of the community believe in the symbolic importance of owning homes.[17] Generally, Pakistani parents in Canada appear to have successfully transported to their new home a stable family structure and the value system that supports it. While there are many cases of marriage and family breakdown, most Pakistani-Canadian children and young adults appear to respect their parents' traditional values.[citation needed] Most marriages are apparently still arranged by families, although the prospective brides as well as the grooms usually participate in the decision.[citation needed]


An important aspect of Pakistani participation in the Canadian economy has been the increasing number of Pakistani-Canadian women who work outside the home. The need for two incomes to maintain a family's standard of living has required many wives and mothers to leave the cloistered life at home that had been customary in Pakistan and seek work for wages. While the new situation has created problems within families, and particularly between couples, it has also provided the opportunity for women to participate more fully in Canadian society, and many have enthusiastically embraced the change. Women who arrived in the family-immigrant class possess a range of education and skills, but some who were from the middle class in Pakistan find themselves in working-class occupations in Canada. The result is a significant adjustment problem for them and their families.[18]


Young people who were born in Canada or brought as children share a particular set of issues and concerns with their parents and the wider Pakistani-Canadian community. Their perspective regarding adaptation and integration is generally not informed by significant direct experience of the culture and values of the homeland, and, as a result, parents and grandparents take on a mediating role. They have to decide what aspects of their traditional lifestyle and values must be left behind and what can be transferred to and re-established in their new home. Most significantly, they generally assume the responsibility for making these choices for their children as well. The family – even in its truncated form in the diaspora – is both the base for substantial cultural transfer and the source of intergenerational conflict.[18]



Those who came to Canada from Pakistan via East Africa or the Gulf are more likely to be involved in business. A number of Pakistani Canadians are also traders and are primarily involved in exporting and importing goods to and from Pakistan. A number of Pakistani-Canadian businessmen and companies have participated in this development.[17]

Relations with Pakistan[edit]

Pakistan International Airlines serves Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport three times a week non-stop to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and has been one of the most profitable routes in the entire network.[19]


The Pakistan Day Event[edit]

The Toronto Pakistan Day Event is an small scale event which takes place at an indoor Ceremony to celebrate the culture of the country at Pakistan national day.[citation needed]



A number of Canadian television networks broadcast programming that features Pakistani-Canadian culture. These television shows often highlight Pakistani-Canadian events in Canada, and also show events from Pakistan involving Pakistanis who reside there.

  • The Voice of PakistanVision TV (since 1971)


Embassy of Pakistan in Ottawa

Wajid Khan and Rahim Jaffer were members of the House of Commons of Canada. Wajid Khan represented the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville district of Ontario as a Conservative Member of Parliament[20] while Rahim Jaffer was a Conservative Member of Parliament for the Edmonton—Strathcona district of Alberta.[21] Currently there are two Pakistani-Canadian women serving in the 42nd Canadian Parliament: Iqra Khalid representing Mississauga-Erin Mills[22] and Salma Zahid representing Scarborough Centre.[23] Both women are Liberal Members of Parliament elected to seats in Ontario. Pakistani Canadians can also be found in the provincial legislatures as well as on municipal councils.

Salma Ataullahjan,[24] a Toronto artist and community activist,[25] was named a Canadian Senator by Governor General Michaëlle Jean, on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on 9 July 2010, and will sit with the Conservative caucus. With this appointment, Ataullahjan became the first Canadian senator of Pakistani Pushtun descent.

Shafiq Qaadri is a family doctor and politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, representing the riding of Etobicoke North for the Ontario Liberal Party.[26][27][28]

Canadians of Pakistani origin[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Census Profile, 2016 Census Canada [Country] and Canada [Country]". Statistics Canada. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Loss of security alarms Pakistani Canadian". Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2011. Alt URL Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ The Muslim Community in North America. p. 133.
  4. ^ "NHS Profile, Milton, T, Ontario, 2011". Statistics Canada. 8 May 2013. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2017.. Source says 3185 out of 83575 are of Pakistani origin.
  5. ^ "2014 World Population Data" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 February 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  6. ^ The Muslim community in North America. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  7. ^ "96F0030XIE2001015 – Religions in Canada". Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Welcome To Anjuman-E-Burhani (Toronto) Website". Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Canadian Islamic Congress -". Canadian Islamic Congress. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  10. ^ "The American Muslim (TAM)". Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Home – ISNA". ISNA. Archived from the original on 17 October 2004. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  12. ^ canada, Muslim Association of. "MAC – Home". Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  13. ^ Muslim Canadian Congress Archived 4 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Muslim Student Association of Canada Archived 4 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine Ahmadyya Muslim Community "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "MSA National". MSA National. Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  16. ^ Saleem A, Steadman KJ, Fejzic, J (5 August 2020). "Utilisation of Healthcare Services and Medicines by Pakistani Migrants Residing in High Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis". Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 21 (5): 1157–1180. doi:10.1007/s10903-018-0840-4. PMID 30499044. S2CID 53979154.
  17. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  18. ^ a b "Community Life and Family and Kinship | Multicultural Canada". Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  19. ^ "Pakistan International Airlines – Home". Archived from the original on 23 January 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  20. ^ "Wajid Khan – Mississauga-Streetsville". Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  21. ^ "Rahim Jaffer – Edmonton-Strathcona". Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  22. ^ "Profile – Khalid, Iqra". Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Profile – Zahid, Salma". Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Salma Ataullahjan" Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Toronto Star
  25. ^ "PM appoints new senator before crucial budget vote" Archived 21 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Toronto Star, 9 July 2010
  26. ^ "Etobicoke North: Summary of valid votes cast for each candidate". Elections Ontario. 2 October 2003. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014.
  27. ^ "McGuinty Government Working To Reduce Injury in Ontario". Ottawa: Canada NewsWire. 23 August 2007. p. 1.
  28. ^ "In Brief". South Asian Focus. Brampton, Ontario. 13 December 2011. p. 1.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]