Pakistani Canadian

Pakistani Canadian

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Canadians of Pakistani origin

poptime = ~80,000 [ [ Population by Ethnic Origin ] ]
0.2% of the Canadian population
popplace = Ontario
langs = English
Languages of Pakistan
rels = Islam
related = Muslim Canadians
Overseas Pakistani
Asian Canadian
Persian Canadians
South Asian Canadian"'

Pakistani Canadian refers to people born in Canada of Pakistani heritage.

History in Canada

Pakistan came into existence in 1947, so documentation of the life of Pakistani Canadians can technically only start from that year. However, it should be noted that Muslim immigrants from the part of British India now known as Pakistan entered Canada as early as the eighteenth century, working in agriculture, logging, and mining in the western province of British Columbia. [ ] ]

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.

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 largest concentration of Pakistanis in the country at the time. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s most who arrived were young men pursuing graduate or professional studies.

In 1976, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau introduced the Immigration Act. Since then the number of Pakistani immigrants increased dramatically, with hundreds of Pakistanis entering Canada each year. Pakistani Canadians in the 1980s tended to be urban, well-educated, and professional and are more or less familiar with western culture and ways of living. However, the dependents and relatives that they have since sponsored for permanent residence and citizenship to Canada in the years after 1990 happen to be characterized by lower levels of education, due to immigration by sponsorship. Hovever, most of the Pakistanis immigrating to the Canada are mainly students, professionals and economic migrants who do tend to have reasonable levels of education.,M1]

Integrating into Canadian society

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. Generally speaking, they are known to assimilate into Canadian culture more easily than many other immigrant groups due to fewer language barriers; English is widely spoken in Pakistan among professional classes and is the official language of all state institutions. As well they usually have more educational credentials, and come from a similar diverse and tolerant society. They have brought to Canada Pakistani cuisine and it has been established as one of the most popular cuisines in the country with hundreds of Pakistani restaurants in all major city and similar eateries in smaller cities and towns.

Racial classification

There is no official classification of Pakistani Canadians however they are usually defined under Asian. Due to Pakistan's ethnic diversity, classification of Pakistani Canadians has become a subject of discussion. Pakistani people have links to Persians, Turks, Arabs, Huns, Greeks, and Mongols. All in one time or another invaded, conquered and settled on what is now the nation of Pakistan, thus giving Pakistan its great ethnic and cultural diversity. [ [ Pakistan Link - Letter & Opinion ] ]


Figures from the 2001 Canadian Census indicate that there are about 75,000 Canadians who claim Pakistani ancestry, according to Statistics Canada. Since StatsCan does not provide population of Pakistani in each province, the following numbers are estimated. []

Toronto has the largest Pakistani community in Canada. Most Pakistanis who live in Toronto reside in places such as Rexdale, Mississauga, and East York, however the vast majority live in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes cities such as Hamilton, Markham, Richmond Hill, Pickering and Guelph. The center of Toronto's Pakistani community can be found on Gerrard Street East, in East York. A large Pakistani population resides in this area, and is home to many Pakistani restaurants and stores. Popular days to visit the street are during Eid and Yom-e-Istiqlal. Toronto's Pakistani community is quite diverse with people from Punjabi, Kashmiri, Pathan and Sindhi backgrounds.

Vancouver has one of the fastest growing Pakistani communities in Canada. Most Pakistanis who live in the city of Vancouver reside in areas such as Burnaby and Surrey, which is home to Punjabi Market. Other areas include Abbotsford, New Westminster and North Vancouver.


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, Sindhi, Kashmiri, Balochi and Pashto. The more educated ones tend to come from Urdu speaking backgrounds.


*MuslimsMost Pakistani Canadians are Muslims. Religion figures prominently in the life of Pakistani Canadian families, and the Quran and the teachings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad serve as the guidelines that Pakistani Muslims are supposed to follow throughout their lives. The majority of Pakistanis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, although a significant representation may also be found among the Shi'ite sect. 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. Pakistani Canadians worship at masjids alongside other Muslims who might trace their ancestry to all parts of the world; there are generally no separate Pakistani Canadian masjids. Pakistani Canadians also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Canadians in Canada. They are part of the larger community's efforts to educate the country about the ideals of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad. [ [ 96F0030XIE2001015 - Religions in Canada ] ] Pakistani Canadians have played important roles in many associations including:

* 1. Muslim Canadian Congress
* 2. Canadian Islamic Congress
* 3. Muslim Student Association of Canada

The Islamic Society of Toronto has the 2nd largest masjid in North America and is located in Toronto's east-end at the corner of Nugget Avenue and Markham Road. There is also an ISNA Center, located in Mississauga, Ontario. The facility contains a masjid, high school, community center, banquet hall and funeral service available for all Muslim Canadians. There is also a small mosque located in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, catering for the dozen or so Muslims who have settled up north. [ [ Association of Islamic Charitable Projects In Canada » home ] ]

*OthersAlthough the majority of Pakistani Canadians are Muslims, there is also a sizable community of Christians as well. They worship at churches all over the country and share in the religious life of the dominant Christian culture of Canada. In recent times, Pakistani Zoroastrians (called Parsis) have come to Canada mainly from the cities of Lahore and Karachi and usually congregate with fellow Indian Parsis. Likewise, Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs tend to stay in their own communities and share religious and cultural life with fellow Indian Hindus and Sikhs.


Wajid Khan and Rahim Jaffer are current members of the Canadian House of Commons. Wajid Khan represents the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville district of Ontario as a Conservative Member of Parliament [ [ Wajid Khan - Mississauga-Streetsville ] ] while Rahim Jaffer is a Conservative Member of Parliament for the Edmonton—Strathcona district of Alberta. [ [ Rahim Jaffer - Edmonton-Strathcona ] ] Pakistani Canadians can also be found in the provincial legislatures as well as on municipal councils.


* LifestyleMost Pakistani Canadians live a comfortable suburban life, with the vast majority living in the middle-class and upper-middle-class. They tend to follow the residence pattern set by other Canadians in that they move to more affluent suburbs as their prosperity increases. Members of the community believe in the symbolic importance of owning homes.,M1]

* EmploymentMost Pakistani Canadians work as professionals or in skilled trades. 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 few substantial enterprises are also owned by Pakistani-Canadian entrepreneurs. A small number of them own factories in Pakistan and are engaged in importing Pakistani manufactures. Others have established textile mills in British Columbia and Ontario and are involved in multinational trade. Canada’s economic relations with Pakistan have shifted from aid to trade in the past decade. A number of Pakistani-Canadian businessmen and companieshave participated in this development.

* IncomeThe incomes of Pakistani Canadians are generally just above the national average. Some incidence of poverty may be present among the newer immigrants who tend to take low-paying jobs often due to a lack of 'Canadian experience'. Members of the family and the larger community tend to take care of each other, and to assist in times of economic need. Hence, it would be more common to turn to a community member for economic assistance rather than to a government agency. Relatively low levels of the community are therefore on welfare and public assistance, contrary to what many believe.

Notable Canadians of Pakistani origin

Relations with Pakistan

Most Pakistani Canadians maintain very close links with Pakistan and this has been kept alive with second and third generation Pakistani Canadians as well. They travel at least once every few years to Pakistan and often take back gifts of money, food, and clothing for friends and family, and donate generously to charities. 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 the most profitable routes in the entire network. [ [ Pakistan International Airlines - Home ] ] The relationship between the Canadian and Pakistani governments in the past few decades has become close as well, and within the last ten years trade between the two countries has increased significantly. Pakistani Canadians maintain a deep interest in the society and politics of Pakistan. Funds are raised by the community for the different political parties and groups in Pakistan. Pakistani Canadians raised the third largest number of funds among the Pakistani diaspora to help Pakistan during the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. Annually Pakistani Canadians send remittances of approximately $50 million dollars to Pakistan. []


* Miss Pakistan World PageantControversial and widely considered un-Islamic by many in the Pakistani Community both in Canada and abroad, the "Miss Pakistan World Pageant" is an annual event which takes place in Toronto, and is open to all Pakistanis across Canada and the world. It has represented Pakistan in various international pageants and has become a global pageant for contestants of Pakistani background from North America, Europe and even as far as Australia. The MPCP's mission is to find positive, energetic role model's who will represent and inspire the Pakistani youth within their great community as well as internationally. The pageant has been successfully running since 2002 and looks for intelligent and confident individuals representing Pakistan in international pageants like Miss Earth and Miss Universe as well as other international pageants.

* The Pakistan Day ParadeThe "Toronto Pakistan Day Parade" is an annual event which takes place at Toronto City Hall to mark Pakistan's independence day (also known as Yom-e-Istiqlal or Yaum-e-Azadi). It is observed on 14 August, the day on which Pakistan became independent from British rule. The Pakistan Day Parade Committee is a non-profit organization formed in 2005 to bring together Canadians of Pakistani origin and celebrate the Independence Day. Together with the Pakistan Consulate in Toronto, it's mission is to project Pakistan in its true colour as a dynamic, moderate and peaceful country. The event usually lasts all day with a flag hoisting ceremony, as well an award ceremony, cultural programmes, mass marches and speeches. A few invited Pakistani singers end the off the show at night with songs and dance.


There are numerous television and radio programs that represent Pakistani-Canadian culture. Surprise CBC hit Little Mosque on the Prairie also features a Pakistani Canadian family.

* TelevisionA number of Canadian television networks broadcast programming that features Pakistani-Canadian culture. "The Voice of Pakistan" has been a long running television show on Vision TV since the late 1970s and presents Pakistani-Canadian shows on Saturdays and Sundays. On (23rd March'08) a new Canadian produced Pakistani television show went on air on Channel M (cable 08-Vancouver, Express U- 254) produced & hosted by Adeel Suhrwardy. "Kal Kahan Ab Yahan" currently airs on OMNI BC every Sunday (1:30 pm) and Tuesday (12:30 pm). These television shows often highlight Pakistani-Canadian events in Canada, and also show events from Pakistan involving Pakistanis who reside there. Other networks provide similar programming including Omni Television, which hosts "Yeh Karavan" every Sunday and "Dharti Sohni Pakistan" on Shaw multicultural. Recently with an upsurge in digital cable subscribers, Rogers Digital Cable now provides Pakistani Canadians with channels from Pakistan. These include Geo TV, ARY Digital and Indus Vision.

* RadioSurprisingly, there is not much in terms of Pakistani presence on the radio airwaves of Canada however recently "Radio Pakistan Toronto" began broadcasting from WTOR. It airs daily Monday to Saturday and is broadcast to the much of the Greater Toronto Area and Western New York. "PakMusic" is hosted by Adeel Suhrwardy every Sunday on Radio Rimjhim, which is heard across Canada and some parts the Northwest United States. "Dharti Sohni Pakistan" also has a 2 hour daily radio show on CHIN-FM in the Toronto and Ottawa regions, which broadcasts news from Radio Pakistan as well as BBC Urdu, VoA Urdu as well as Pakistani songs and events happening.

* PrintA number of weekly Urdu language newspapers are printed and distributed throughout Canada.

See also

* Islam in Canada
* Overseas Pakistani
* Pakistanis
* Pakistani American
* Languages of Pakistan


External links

* [ Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada - Population by Ethnic Origin]
* [ Canadian Council on Social Development - Canada's Population from 2001-2004]
* [ Multicultural Canada website] including digitized Pakistani-Urdu newspaper

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