Friday, June 17, 2011


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Canadiens (French)
Canadians of differnt ethnic backgrounds.JPG
1st row: Shanawdithit, Aatsista-Mahkan, Louis Riel, Sir John A. Macdonald, Lester B. Pearson

2nd row: Celine Dion, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, John Diefenbaker, Linda Evangelista, Patrick Chan
3rd row: Russell Peters, Cassie Steele, Michaëlle Jean, David Suzuki, Tommy Douglas

Total population
Canada 34,300,000 (Est.[Note 1])
Regions with significant populations
United States 1,003,850 [1]
Hong Kong 200,000 [1]
United Kingdom 72,518 [1]
Taiwan 52,500 [1]
Lebanon 45,000 [1]
People's Republic of China 40,000 [1]
Australia 27,289 [1]
Italy 23,487 [1]
France 18,913 [1]
Greece 12,477 [1]
Egypt 10,000 [1]
South Korea 8,763 [1]
Belgium 4,145 [1]
New Zealand 7,770 [1]
Switzerland 7,519 [1]
Philippines 7,500 [1]
Portugal 7,326 [1]
Japan 7,067 [1]
Netherlands 8,427 [1]
Mexico 5,768 [1]
Norway 2,290 [1]
Ireland 4,081 [1]
Spain 3,810 [1]
Denmark 2,752 [1]
Sweden 2,742 [2]

Official languages are English (Canadian English) and French (Canadian French). Numerous indigenous American languages are also recognized.


Multiple denominations

Canadians (singular Canadian) are the people who are identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be genetic, residential, legal, historical, cultural or ethnic. For most Canadians, several (frequently all) of those types of connections exist and are the source(s) of them being considered Canadians.

Aside from the Aboriginal peoples, who according to the 2006 Canadian Census numbered 1,172,790, 3.8% of the country's total population,[3] the majority of the populace is made up of old world immigrants and their descendents. After the initial period of French and then British colonization, different waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over the course of nearly two centuries and is currently ongoing. Elements of Aboriginal, French, British and more recent immigrant customs, languages and religions have combined to form the culture of Canada and thus a Canadian identity. Canada has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States.

The Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946 took effect on 1 January 1947. Prior to that date, Canadians were British subjects and Canada's nationality law closely mirrored that of the United Kingdom. As Canadian independence was obtained incrementally over the course of many years since the formation of the Canadian Confederation in 1867, World War I and World War II in particular gave rise to a desire amongst Canadians to have their country recognized as a fully-fledged sovereign state with a distinct citizenship. Legislation since the mid 20th century represents Canadians' commitment to multilateralism and socioeconomic development.


  • 1 Origins
    • 1.1 Immigration
    • 1.2 Citizenship
    • 1.3 Ethnic ancestry
  • 2 Culture
    • 2.1 Religion
    • 2.2 Languages
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links


Canadians make up 0.5% of the world's total population,2010[4] having relied upon immigration for population growth and social development.[5] Approximately 41% of current Canadians are first or second generation immigrants,[6] meaning one out of every five Canadians currently living in Canada was not born in the country.[7] Statistics Canada projects that, by 2031, nearly one-half of Canadians above the age of 15 will be foreign-born or have one foreign-born parent.[8]


The French originally settled New France in present-day Quebec, during the early part of the 17th century.[9] They also settled the Acadian peninsula alongside a smaller number of other European merchants, who collectively became the Acadians.[10] During the 18th and 19th century; immigration westward (to the area known as Rupert's Land) was carried out by French settlers (Coureur des bois) working for the North West Company, and by British (English and Scottish) settlers representing the Hudson's Bay Company.[11] This led to the creation of the Métis, an ethnic group of mixed European and First Nations parentage.[12]

The British conquest of New France was proceeded by small number of Germans and Swedes who settled alongside the Scottish in Port Royal, Nova Scotia, while some Irish immigrated to the Colony of Newfoundland.[13] In the wake of the 1775 invasion of Canada by the newly-formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, approximately 60,000 United Empire Loyalist fled to British North America, a large portion of whom migrated to New Brunswick.[14] After the War of 1812, British (included British army regulars), Scottish and Irish immigration was encouraged throughout Rupert's Land, Upper Canada and Lower Canada.[15]

Between 1815 and 1850 some 800,000 immigrants came to the colonies of British North America, mainly from the British Isles as part of the great migration of Canada.[16] These included some Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots displaced by the Highland Clearances to Nova Scotia.[17] The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s significantly increased the pace of Irish immigration to Prince Edward Island and the Province of Canada, with over 35,000 distressed individuals landing in Toronto in 1847 and 1848.[18][19] Beginning in late 1850s, Chinese immigrants into the Colony of Vancouver Island and Colony of British Columbia peaked with the onset of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.[20] The Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 eventually placed a head tax on all Chinese immigrants, in hopes of discouraging Chinese immigration after completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[21]

The population of Canada has consistently risen, doubling approximately every 40 years, since the establishment of the Canadian Confederation in 1867.[22] From the mid to late 19th century Canada had a policy of assisting immigrants from Europe, including an estimated 100,000 unwanted "Home Children" from Britain.[23] Block settlement communities were established throughout western Canada between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were planned and other were spontaneously created by the settlers themselves.[24] Canada was now receiving a large amount of European immigrants predominately Italians, Germans, Scandinavians, Dutch and Ukrainians.[25]

100,000 +
50,000 - 99,999
20,000 - 49,999
10,000 - 19,999

Legislative restrictions on immigration (such as the Continuous journey regulation and Chinese Immigration Act) that had favoured British and other European immigrants were amended in the 1960s, opening the doors to immigrants from all parts of the world.[26] While the 1950s had still seen high levels of immigration by Europeans, by the 1970s immigrants increasingly were Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Jamaican and Haitian.[27] During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Canada received many American Vietnam War draft dissenters.[28] Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s Canada's growing Pacific trade brought with it a large influx of South Asians, that tended to settle in British Columbia.[29]

In 2009, Canada received 252,179 immigrants - the top ten source countries were China (29,049), the Philippines (27,277), India (26,122), the United States (9,723), the United Kingdom (9,566), France (7,300), Pakistan (6,214), Iran (6,065), South Korea (5,864), and Morocco (5,222).[30] These countries were followed closely by Algeria (4,785), United Arab Emirates (4,640), and Iraq (4,567) with Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Germany each contributing over 4,000 immigrants.[30] Immigrants of all backgrounds tend to settle in the major urban centres.[31][32]

The majority of illegal immigrants come from the southern provinces of the People's Republic of China, with Asia as a whole, Eastern Europe, Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East all contributing to the illegal population.[33] Estimates of illegal immigrants range between 35,000 and 120,000.[34] A 2008 report by the Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser, stated that Canada has lost track of approximately 41,000 illegal immigrants whose visas have expired.[35]


Members of the first official Canadian Citizenship ceremony held at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa,
3 January 1947

Canadian citizenship is typically obtained by birth in Canada, birth abroad when at least one parent is a Canadian citizen and was born in Canada, or by adoption abroad by at least one Canadian citizen.[36] It can also be granted to a permanent resident who lives in Canada for three out of four years and meets specific requirements.[36] Canada established its own nationality law in 1946 with the enactment of the Canadian Citizenship Act, which took effect on 1 January 1947.[37] The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, was passed by the Parliament of Canada in 2001 as Bill C-11, which replaced the Immigration Act of 1976 as the primary federal legislation regulating immigration.[38] Prior to the conferring of legal status on Canadian citizenship, Canada's naturalization laws consisted of a multitude of Acts beginning with the Immigration Act of 1910.[39]

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada there are three main classifications for immigrants: Family class (closely related persons of Canadian residents), Economic class (admitted on the basis of a point system that account for age, health and labour-market skills required for cost effectively inducting the immigrants into Canada's labour market) and Refugee class (those seeking protection by applying to remain in the country by way of the Canadian immigration and refugee law).[40] In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country.[6] Canada resettles over one in 10 of the world’s refugees[41] and has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world,[42] driven by economic policy and family reunification, and is aiming for between 240,000 and 265,000 "new permanent residents" in 2011.[43]

The majority of Canadian citizens live in Canada; however, there are approximately 2,800,000 Canadians abroad as of November 1, 2009.[44] This represents about 7.5% of the total Canadian population. Of those abroad the United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China, and Lebanon have the largest Canadian diaspora. Canadians in United States are the greatest single expatriate community at over 1 million in 2009, representing 35.8% of all Canadians abroad.[45] Under current Canadian law, Canada does not restrict dual citizenship but Passport Canada encourages its citizens to travel abroad on their Canadian passport, so they can access Canadian consular services .[46]

Ethnic ancestry

Canada has thirty four ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each, of which eleven have over 1,000,000 people and numerous others are represented in smaller amounts.[Note 2] According to the 2006 census, the largest self-reported ethnic origin is Canadian (32%),[Note 3] followed by English (21%), French (15.8%), Scottish (15.1%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (4.6%), Chinese (4.3%), North American Indian (4.0%),[Note 4] Ukrainian (3.9%), and Dutch (Netherlands) (3.3%).[47] In the 2006 census, over five million Canadians identified themselves as a member of a visible minority. Together, they make up 16.2% of the total population: most numerous among these are South Asian (4.0%), Black (2.5%), and Filipino (1.1%).[47] Aboriginal peoples are not considered a visible minority under the Employment Equity Act,[48] and is the definition that Statistics Canada also uses.

Map of the dominant self-identified ethnic origins of ancestors per census division of 2006.[Note 2]
Canadian[Note 3]
North American Indian[Note 4]
East Indian
Ethnic origin[Note 2]↓ %↓ Population↓ Area of largest proportion↓
Canadian[Note 3] 32.22% &000000001006629000000010,066,290 Quebec (66.2%)
English Canadian 21.03% &00000000065700150000006,570,015 Newfoundland and Labrador (43.2%)
French Canadian
(excluding Acadians)
15.82% &00000000049412100000004,941,210 Quebec (28.9%)
Scottish Canadian 15.11% &00000000047198500000004,719,850 Prince Edward Island (40.5%)
Irish Canadian 13.94% &00000000043541550000004,354,155 Prince Edward Island (29.2%)
German Canadian 10.18% &00000000031794250000003,179,425 Saskatchewan (30.0%)
Italian Canadian 4.63% &00000000014453350000001,445,335 Ontario (7.2%)
Chinese Canadian 4.31% &00000000013465100000001,346,510 British Columbia (10.6%)
North American Indian[Note 4] 4.01% &00000000012536150000001,253,615 Northwest Territories (36.5%)
Ukrainian Canadian 3.87% &00000000012090850000001,209,085 Manitoba (14.8%)
Dutch Canadian
3.32% &00000000010359650000001,035,965 Alberta (5.3%)
Polish Canadian 3.15% &0000000000984565000000984,565 Manitoba (7.3%)
East Indian Canadian 3.08% &0000000000962665000000962,665 British Columbia (5.7%)
Russian Canadian 1.60% &0000000000500600000000500,600 Manitoba (4.3%)
Welsh Canadian 1.41% &0000000000440965000000440,965 Yukon (3.1%)
Filipino Canadian 1.40% &0000000000436190000000436,190 Manitoba (3.5%)
Norwegian Canadian 1.38% &0000000000432515000000432,515 Saskatchewan (7.2%)
Portuguese Canadian 1.32% &0000000000410850000000410,850 Ontario (2.4%)
Métis 1.31% &0000000000409065000000409,065 Northwest Territories (6.9%)
British Canadian
(British Isles not included elsewhere)
1.29% &0000000000403915000000403,915 Yukon (2.3%)
Swedish Canadian 1.07% &0000000000334765000000334,765 Saskatchewan (3.5%)
Spanish Canadian 1.04% &0000000000325730000000325,730 British Columbia (1.3%)
American Canadian 1.01% &0000000000316350000000316,350 Yukon (2.0%)
Hungarian Canadian
1.01% &0000000000315510000000315,510 Saskatchewan (2.9%)
Jewish Canadian
(From all continents)
1.01% &0000000000315120000000315,120 Ontario (1.5%)
For a complete list see: Canadian ethnic groups


A 1911 political cartoon on Canada's bicultural identity showing a flag combining symbols of Britain, France and Canada. - Title: "The next favor. 'A flag to suit the minority.'"

Canada's culture, like that of most any country in the world, is a product of its language(s), religion(s), political and legal system(s). Being a settler nation, Canada has been shaped by waves of migration that have combined to form a unique blend of art, cuisine, literature, humour and music.[49] Today, Canada has a diverse makeup of nationalities and constitutional protection for policies that promote multiculturalism rather than cultural assimilation or a single national myth.[50][51] In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many French-speaking commentators speak of a Quebec culture as distinguished from English Canadian culture.[52] However as a whole Canada is a cultural mosaic a collection of several regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures.[53][54]

Canadian Government policies such as; publicly-funded health care, higher and more progressive taxation, outlawing capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, an emphasis on multiculturalism, imposing strict gun control, leniency in regard to drug use and most recently legalizing same-sex marriage - are social indicators of how Canada's political and cultural evolution differ from that of the United States.[55] American media and entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the United States and worldwide.[56] The Government of Canada has also influenced culture with programs, laws and institutions. It has created "crown corporations" to promote Canadian culture through media and has also tried to protect Canadian culture by setting legal minimums on Canadian content.[57]

Canadian culture has historically been influenced by Aboriginal, French and British cultures and traditions. Most of Canada's territory was inhabited and developed later than other European colonies in the Americas, with the result that themes and symbols of pioneers, trappers, and traders were important in the early development of the Canadian identity.[58] First Nations played a critical part in the development of European colonies in Canada, particularly for their role in assisting exploration of the continent during the North American fur trade.[59] The British conquest of New France in the mid 1700s brought a large Francophone population under British Imperial rule, creating a need for compromise and accommodation.[60] The new British rulers left alone much of the religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking habitants, guaranteeing the right of the Canadiens to practice the Catholic faith and to the use of French civil law (now Quebec law) through the Quebec Act of 1774.[61]

Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli in Toronto. Four identical sculptures are located in Buffalo City, Changchun, Sarajevo and Sydney.

The Constitution Act of 1867 was designed to meet the growing calls of Canadians for autonomy from British rule, while avoiding the overly-strong decentralization that contributed to the Civil War in the United States.[62] The compromises made by the Fathers of Confederation set Canadians on a path to bilingualism, and this in turn contributed to an acceptance of diversity that later led to both multiculturalism and the recognition of Aboriginal contributions to Canadian society.[63][64] Through their art and culture, First Nations, Inuit and Métis continue to exert influence on Canadian identity.[64]

The Canadian Forces and overall civilian participation in the First World War and Second World War helped to foster Canadian nationalism,[65][66][67] however in 1917 and 1944 conscription crisis's caused a considerable rift along ethnic lines between Anglophones and Francophones.[68] As a result of the First and Second World Wars, the Government of Canada became more assertive and less deferential to British authority.[69] With the gradual loosening of political ties to the United Kingdom and the modernization of Canadian immigration policies, in the 20th century immigrants with African, Caribbean and Asian nationalities have added to the Canadian identity and its culture.[70] The multiple origins immigration pattern continues today with the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non British or French backgrounds.[71]

Multiculturalism in Canada was adopted as the official policy of the government during the premiership of Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the 1970s and 1980s.[72] The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.[73] Multiculturalism is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage and reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act[74] and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[75] In parts of Canada, especially the major urban areas, multiculturalism itself is the cultural norm and diversity is a force that unites the community.[76][77]

In a 2002 interview with the Globe and Mail, Karīm al-Hussainī the 49th Aga Khan of the Ismaili Muslims described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world."[78] He explained that the experience of Canadian governance - its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its peoples - is something that must be shared and would be of benefit to all societies in other parts of the world.[78]


Canada as a nation is religiously diverse, encompassing a wide range of groups, beliefs and customs.[79] The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms references "God", and the monarch carries the title of "Defender of the Faith".[80] However Canada has no official religion and support for religious pluralism (Freedom of religion in Canada) is an important part of Canada's political culture.[81][82] With Christianity on the decline, having once been central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life;[83] it has been recently suggested that Canada has come to enter a post-Christian period in a secular state, where the practice of religion has "moved to the margins of public life", with irreligion in Canada on the rise.[84]

Top self-identified religious affiliations as of 2001.[85]

The 2001 Canadian census reported that 77.1% of Canadians identify as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6%).[86][87] The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada (9.5%), followed by the Anglicans (6.8%), Baptists (2.4%), Lutherans (2%), and other Christians (4.4%).[87] About 16.5% of Canadians declare no religious affiliation, including agnostics, atheists, humanists, and other groups. The remaining 6.3% are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which is Islam (2.0%), followed by Judaism (1.1%).[86][87]

Before the arrival of Europeans, First Nations followed a wide array of mostly animistic religions.[88] The French were first Europeans to settle in great numbers along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, specifically Latin rite Roman Catholics, including a large number of Jesuits dedicated to converting Aboriginals; an effort that eventually proved successful.[89] The first large Protestant communities were formed in the Maritimes after the British conquest of New France, followed by American Protestant settlers displaced by the American Revolution.[90] The late nineteenth century saw the beginning of a large shift in Canadian immigration patterns. Large numbers of Irish and Southern Europeans immigrants were creating new Roman Catholic communities in English Canada.[91] The settlement of the west brought significant Eastern Orthodox immigrants from Eastern Europe and Mormon and Pentecostal immigrants from the United States.[92]

The earliest documentation of Jews in Canada are the 1754 British Army records from the French and Indian War.[93] In 1760, General Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst attacked and won Montreal for the British. In his regiment there were several Jews, including four among his officer corps, most notably Lieutenant Aaron Hart who is considered the father of Canadian Jewry.[93] The Islamic, Sikhism and Buddhism communities although small, are as old as the nation itself. The 1871 Canadian Census (first "Canadian" national census) indicated thirteen Muslims among the populace,[94] with approximately 5000 Sikh by 1908.[95] The first Canadian mosque was constructed in Edmonton in 1938, when there were approximately 700 Muslims in Canada.[96] Buddhism first arrived in Canada when Japanese immigrated during the late 19th century.[97] The first Japanese Buddhist temple in Canada was built in Vancouver in 1905.[98] The influx of immigrants in the late 20th century with Sri Lankan, Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian customs, has contributed to the recent expansion of the Sikhism and Buddhist communities.[99]


Approximately 98% of Canadians can speak English and/or French.[100]
English - 57.8%
English and French (Bilingual) - 17.4%
French - 22.1%
Sparsely populated area ( < 0.4 persons per km2)

A multitude of languages are used by Canadians, with English and French (the official languages) being the mother tongues of 59.7% and 23.2% of the population respectively.[100] Approximately twenty percent or over six million people in Canada list a non-official language as their mother tongue.[101] Some of the most common first languages include: Chinese (3.1%), Italian (1.4%), German (1.2%), Spanish (1.2%), Punjabi (1.1%), Tagalog (0.9%), Tamil (0.8%), Gujarati (0.6%).[102] Less than one percent of Canadians (just over 250,000 individuals) know how to speak an aboriginal language. About half this number (129,865) reported using an aboriginal language on a daily basis.[103]

English and French are recognized by the Constitution of Canada as official languages.[104] Thus all federal government laws are enacted in both English and French with government services available in both languages.[104] Two of Canada's territories give official status to indigenous languages. In Nunavut, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun are official languages alongside the national languages of English and French, and Inuktitut is a common vehicular language in territorial government.[105] In the Northwest Territories, the Official Languages Act declares that there are eleven different languages: Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłįchǫ.[106] Canadian media offers specialty television channels, newspapers and other publications in many minority languages, that are widely accessible across the county.[107]

In Canada as elsewhere in the world of European colonization, the frontier of European exploration and settlement tended to be a linguistically diverse and fluid place, as cultures using different languages met and interacted. The need for a common means of communication between the indigenous inhabitants and new arrivals for the purposes of trade and (in some cases) intermarriage led to the development of hybrid languages.[108] Languages like Michif, Chinook Jargon and Bungi creole tended to be highly localized and were often spoken by only a small number of individuals who were frequently capable of speaking another language.[109]