Syrian Canadians

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Syrian Canadians
Syria Canada
Total population
(80,000, 2015 estimate [1])
Regions with significant populations
Montreal, Greater Toronto Area
Canadian English, Canadian French, Arabic (Syrian Arabic), Armenian, Kurdish, Turkmen, Aramaic
Islam, Judaism and Christianity

Syrian Canadians refers to Canadians who can trace their ancestry back to Syria. According to the 2011 Census there were 40,840 Canadians who claimed Syrian ancestry, an increase compared to the 2006 Census.[2]

Economic life[edit]

The leading factor for the immigration of Syrians has been to find better jobs. The early immigrants found themselves engaging in basic commerce, with the term 'peddler' becoming almost synonymous with 'Syrian'.[3] Most of these peddlers were successful, and, with time, and after raising enough capital, some became importers and wholesalers, recruiting newcomers and supplying them with merchandise. Others opened small businesses in urban centres all over the country.[4] Later, these merchants would gravitate towards larger urban locations, where the economy was flourishing. Smaller number of Syrians worked as labourers in factories, miners, or as lumber workers. Also, some became pioneers in the southern prairie regions of western Canada, and worked in farming.[4] These workers settled in communities such as Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and Lac La Biche, Alberta. Few reached the Northwest Territories, the best known being Peter Baker, author of the book An Arctic Arab, and later elected as a member of the legislative assembly of the Northwest Territories. By the 1930s, many towns in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and western Canada had one or more stores run by Syrian immigrants.[5]

Women also worked occasionally, in addition to household chores, and usually helped run the family store if they had one, and in the cities they would sell goods from door to door.[5]

Notable Syrian Canadians[edit]

  • Omar Alghabra, Canadian Member of Parliament from Mississauga Centre
  • René Angélil, Canadian singer and manager (father of Syrian descent and Canadian mother of Lebanese origin[6])
  • Paul Anka, Canadian singer and songwriter (father was Syrian, mother was Lebanese "from the town of Kfarmishki, in Lebanon"[7])
  • King Ganam, fiddler
  • Maher Arar, engineer detained in the United States, then deported to Syria, where he was imprisoned and allegedly tortured; later received an apology and compensation from the Canadian government
  • Tony Clement, Canadian Member of Parliament from Parry Sound—Muskoka. Mother of Syrian descent.[8]
  • Sam Hamad, Member of the Quebec National Assembly (MNA) for the riding of Louis-Hebert and Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity
  • Jack Kachkar, Syrian Canadian businessman of Armenian descent
  • Wiz Kilo, Canadian hip hop and R&B artist
  • Ruba Nadda, Canadian film director of mixed Syrian-Palestinian origin
  • Rami Sebei, Canadian professional wrestler best known for his work under the ring name El Generico, currently signed to WWE under the ring name Sami Zayn
  • Chris Shaban, Canadian boxing promoter and trainer; known for his work with Yvon Durelle, the Fighting Fisherman of Baie St Ann, New Brunswick
  • [[Bash
  • Sammy Yatim, Canadian shot by a Toronto police officer

Popular culture[edit]

Sabah, a 2005 film directed by Ruba Nadda, portrays a Syrian Canadian family in Toronto.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Syrian Peddlers". Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  4. ^ a b "The Syrians in Canada". Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Multicultural Canada". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  6. ^ À voir à la télévision le samedi 24 mars - Carré d'as "Né dans le quartier Villeray à Montréal d'un père d'origine syrienne et d'une mère québécoise, le jeune Angelil était un leader"
  7. ^ Paul Anka: prolific songwriter, proud son of Lebanon,; accessed January 28, 2015.
  8. ^

External links[edit]