Turkish Canadian

Turkish Canadian

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Turkish Canadian

caption = Notable Turks in Canada
poptime = Est. 43,700< [ [http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/topics/RetrieveProductTable.cfm?TPL=RETR&ALEVEL=3&APATH=3&CATNO=&DETAIL=0&DIM=&DS=99&FL=0&FREE=0&GAL=0&GC=99&GK=NA&GRP=1&IPS=&METH=0&ORDER=1&PID=92333&PTYPE=88971&RL=0&S=1&ShowAll=No&StartRow=1&SUB=801&Temporal=2006&Theme=80&VID=0&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF= Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census] ]
popplace =
langs = English, Turkish
rels = Islam

The term Turk or Turkish used in Canada may apply to immigrants or the descendants of immigrants born in the Ottoman Empire before 1923, in the republic of Turkey since then, or in neighbouring countries once part of the Ottoman Empire that still have a population whose language is Turkish or who claims a Turkish identity or cultural heritage, in contrast to the many other peoples from present-day Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire, who identify with their own communities.


There has been significant Turkish migration to Canada only since 1960. Until the end of World War I, mutual hostilities between the Ottoman Empire and Europe made migration difficult, and the Canadian government discouraged “Asian” immigration.

A few Turks were to be found in pre-World War I mining and logging camps, but there were probably no more than 500–1,000 Turkish Canadians across Canada before World War II. For a majority of Turks, the founding of the new republic of Turkey, on 29 October 1923, was a far greater incentive to stay at home than to immigrate. One of the popular patriotic slogans of the period was: Ne mutlu Türküm diyene (How happy is the one who can say “I am a Turk”).

Initially, Turkish migration appeared to be dictated by the desire for better education and greater economic opportunities. More recently, however, Turks fleeing from unrest and oppression in Bulgaria, from the Kurdish terrorism in eastern Turkey, and from the Greek-Turkish confrontation in Cyprus have arrived as both political and economic refugees.

Modern era

It is difficult to assess the size of the Turkish-Canadian community today because the data available are dependent on self-identification by Turks who come from a variety of regions, as well as on conflicting Canadian immigration and census statistics, the latter more often than not based on only a sampling of the population. In the 1991 census, over 12,000 people identified themselves as of Turkish ethnic origin – 8,525 said they were of wholly Turkish origin, and another 3,525 said they were of partial Turkish origin. This figure was about the same as the number of people who had emigrated from Turkey – 12,180. The ethnic origin figure may not include Turks from countries other than Turkey, while the figure for immigrants from Turkey may include Kurds or people of other non-Turkish origins. Taking these various factors into consideration, there may be as many as 30,000 Turks in Canada. The Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Canada estimates as many as 50,000. [cite web|url=http://www.turkishembassy.com/II/IIH.htm|title=Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Canada]


Turkish immigrants have settled mainly in Montreal and Toronto, although there are small Turkish communities in Calgary, Edmonton, London, Ottawa, and Vancouver. The population of Turkish Canadians in Metropolitan Toronto may be as large as 5,000, or nearly one-third the estimated population in the whole of Canada. The 1991 Canadian census data indicate that there are 6,275 Turks (single and multiple response) in Ontario and 3,165 in Quebec. In Ontario there are concentrations of Turks from Cyprus and Bulgaria in Hamilton, Kitchener and Mississauga.

Turkish Cypriots

Statistics on Turks from Cyprus (Turkish Cypriots) present particular problems. Of the 4,285 individuals who identified themselves as Cypriot in the 1991 Canadian census (3,445 of whom reside in Ontario), it is not clear how many are of Turkish and how many are of Greek heritage.

Turkish Contributions to Canada

The majority of Turkish people have been attracted by the economic, educational, and social possibilities of Canada. Prior to 1980 most arrived as landed immigrants, offering skills sought by the government of Canada. Although Turkish landed immigrants continue to arrive, there are now larger numbers of economic refugees among them.

The participation of Turkish Canadians in Canada’s economy varies considerably. According to one study, engineers, doctors, computer scientists, teachers, and administrators, both male and female, make up the professional group. Skilled and semi-skilled workers, industrial workers, and taxi drivers make up the largest percentage of the community. There are also Turkish-Canadian men and women working in small businesses and the trades: tailors, travel agents, real estate agents, importers and exporters, and the occasional restaurant owner.

In recent years, two business groups have been organized in an effort to coordinate and promote commercial ties between Turkey and Canada: The Turkish Canadian Business Council, in Toronto; and The Turco-Canadian Chamber and Council for Commerce and Industry, in Montreal.

Organizations and associations

Since the late 1970s, a wide range of community organizations has appeared, representing various groups of Turkish immigrants, such as:
* The Association of Canadian Turkish Cypriots (Mississauga)
* The Canadian Association for Solidarity of Turks from Bulgaria (Mississauga)
* The Turkish Canadian Association of London,
* The Canadian Turkish Cultural Association of Hamilton
* The Canadian Turkish Film Society

The United Canadian Muslim Association

The various associations across Canada are now represented by an umbrella organization, the "Kanada Türk Dernekler Federasyonu" (Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations), founded in the mid-1980s; its executive director and offices are located in Toronto. The federation serves as a referral and communications centre for news of Turkey, local events, business and governmental inquiries, and intergroup relations. More recently, a similar Cypriot umbrella body, the Federation of Turkish Cypriot Associations of Canada, was established in Kitchener-Watereloo, Ontario, though cooperation with the Toronto federation remains close. The Canadian Association for Solidarity of Turks from Bulgaria forms part of the Toronto federation. The aims of Turkish Canadians from Turkey proper and of those from outside Turkey often diverge, and this has led to the proliferation of interest groups.

Notable Turkish Canadians

* Üstün Bilgen-Reinart, Turkish- Canadian writer, journalist and broadcaster
* Enis Esmer, Canadian actor and comedian
* Nil Köksal, Canadian television journalist
* Yıldız İbrahimova
* Arda Ocal, Turkish Canadian TV and radio broadcaster and writer


* Roderic Davison, Turkey (London, 1990); two volumes by Geoffrey Lewis, Turkey (London, 1955) and his Modern Turkey (London, 1974); and Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London, 1961).
* Talat S. Halman in Stephen Thernstrom, ed., Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge, Mass., 1980), 992–96
* Turks in Ontario gathered by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario and described in “Turkish Collection,” in A Guide to the Collections of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, compiled by Nick Forte and edited by Gabriele Scardellato (Toronto, 1992), 539–46.


External links

* [http://www.chamber.ca/ The Canadian Chanber of Commerce]
* [http://www.kanadainfo.com The Biggest Turkish Communal web site in Canada]
* [http://www.ctbc.ca/ Canadian Turkish Business Council]
* [http://cjtm.icaap.org/content/10/v10art9.html Turks in Canada (Turkish Musical Culture in Toronto)]

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