Canadians of Indian origin
Canadiens d'origine indienne (French)
Total population
3.86% of the Canadian population (est. 2015)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups

Indo-Canadians or Indian Canadians are Canadian citizens whose heritage is fully or partially South Asian (including Indian and other origins), children of persons who immigrated from India and/or South Asia to Canada, or persons of Indian/South Asian origin who have Canadian citizenship. The terms East Indian and South Asian are sometimes used to distinguish people of ancestral origin from India in order to avoid confusion with the First Nations of Canada. Statistics Canada uses "East Indian" to refer to people specifically from post-partition India. First Nations of Canada are also officially referred to as 'Indians' by the Canadian government under the Indian Act. This is partially because historically the Americas were mistaken by Columbus as India and Native Americans were mistaken by Columbus for Indians and later as West Indians. Therefore, there is no need to distinguish between West and East Indians, because the term "Indian" only refers to a single ethnic group. The main concentration of the Indo-Canadian population is found in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (which includes Greater Vancouver) and the Greater Toronto Area, however there are growing communities in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Montreal.

Indo-Canadians are significantly more likely than the Canadian average to have a university degree, and most Indians in Canada are socio-economically middle class and affluent.[2] 54% of South Asians in Canada have household incomes greater than $60,000, compared to the 46% Canadian average. Canadian adults of East Indian origin are much less likely than other adults to live alone. In 2001, just 4% of the East Indian community aged 15 and over lived alone, compared with 13% of all adult Canadians. Seniors of East Indian origin are especially unlikely to live alone. That year, only 8% of Canadians of East Indian origin aged 65 and over lived alone, compared with 29% of all seniors in Canada. In contrast, seniors of East Indian origin are more likely than other seniors to live with members of their extended family. In 2001, 24% of seniors of East Indian origin lived with relatives, such as the family of a son or daughter, while only 5% of all seniors in Canada lived with relatives. [3]

According to Statistics Canada, Indo-Canadians are one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, making up the second largest non-European ethnic group in the country after Chinese Canadians.[4] The highest concentrations of Indo-Canadians are found in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, followed by growing communities in Alberta and Quebec as well, with the majority of them being foreign-born.[4]


There may have been encounters between South Asians and First Nations peoples in the sixteenth century along the Atlantic coast of present-day Canada. Evidence from further south in the United States suggests that South Asian slaves were among the first settlers at Jamestown, Virginia.[5] Lascars aboard Portuguese, Spanish and possibly French ships may have also arrived on the coasts of Labrador and Nova Scotia.

The first definitive encounters between the First Nations and other aboriginal peoples of present-day Canada and South Asia, began in the eighteenth century, when British traders engaged in the fur trade arrived along the Pacific coast of Northwest America. These encounters involved the arrival of Lascars on ships from Bombay, Calcutta and Macau.[6]

Reasons for moving

The Indo-Canadian community started around the beginning of the 20th century. The pioneers were men, mostly Sikhs from the Punjab; many were veterans of the British Army. In 1897 a contingent of Sikh soldiers participated in the parade to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in London, England. On their subsequent journey home, they visited the western coast of Canada, primarily British Columbia which at the time was very sparsely populated and the Canadian government wanted to settle in order to prevent a takeover of the territory by the United States

Upon retiring from the army, some of these men found their pensions to be inadequate. Some of them also found their land and estates back home in India were utilized by money lenders.They decided to try their fortunes in the countries they had visited. They joined an Indian diaspora, which included people from Burma through Malaysia, the East Indies, the Philippines, and China. They were able to get work in the police force and some were employed as night-watchmen by British firms. Others started small businesses of their own . These were modest beginnings but they had bigger ideas. The Sikhs, who had seen Canada, recommended the New World to fellow Sikh people who were in a position to venture out and seek new fortunes. They were guaranteed jobs by agents of big Canadian companies like the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company. Overcoming their initial reluctance to go to these countries due to the treatment of Asians by the white population, many young men chose to go, having been assured that they would not meet the same fate. They were British subjects; Canada was a part of the British Empire; and the British Empire owed much to the Sikhs. Queen Victoria had proclaimed in 1858 that throughout the empire the people of India that they would enjoy "equal privileges with white people without discrimination of colour, creed or race."[7]

Initial settlement

However, upon arrival to British Columbia, the first Sikh immigrants faced widespread racism by the local white Canadians. Most of the white Canadians feared workers who would work for less pay, and that an influx of more immigrants would threaten their jobs. As a result, there were a series of race riots that targeted the Sikh immigrants, who were beat up by mobs of angry white Canadians. Then the Sikhs fought and took over the place.[8] These mobs not only targeted Indians, but also other Asian group such as the Chinese immigrants working on the railroad at the time and Black Canadians. From the social pressure most decided to return to India, while a few stayed behind. To support the white Canadian population on the west coast of Canada, who did not want Indians to immigrate to Canada, the Canadian government prevented Indian men from bringing their wives and children until 1919, which was another considerable factor in their decision to leave Canada.[8]

The restrictions by the Canadian government increased on Indians, and policies were put in place in 1907 to prevent Indians who had the right to vote from voting in future general elections.[8] Furthermore, government quotas were established to cap the number of Indians allowed to immigrate to Canada in the early 20th century. This was part of a policy adopted by Canada to ensure that the country retained its primarily European demographic, and was similar to American and Australian immigration policies at the time. These quotas only allowed fewer than 100 people from India a year until 1957, when it was marginally increased (to 300 people a year). In comparison to the quotas established for Indians, people from Europe immigrated freely without quotas in large numbers during that time to Canada, numbering in the tens of thousands yearly.[8]

In 1914, the Komagata Maru, a steam liner carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India (all were British subjects) arrived in Vancouver. Most of the passengers were not allowed to land in Canada and were returned to India. When the Kamagata Maru returned to Calcutta (now Kolkata), they were fired upon by the British, many died. Viewing this as evidence that Indians were not treated as equals under the British Empire, they staged a peaceful protest upon returning to India. British forces saw this as a threat to their authority, and opened fire on the protestors, killing many. This was one of the most notorious incidents in the history of exclusion laws in Canada designed to keep out immigrants of Asian origin.

Recent settlement

Policies changed rapidly during the second half of the 20th century.

In 1906 and 1907 there was a spike in migration from the Indian sub-continent into British Columbia. Most of the migrants were Punjabi Sikhs though there were large amounts of Punjabi Hindus and Muslims too. an estimated 4700 arrived, at around the same time as a rise in Chinese and Japanese immigration. The federal government curtailed the migration and over the next seven years, fewer than 125 South Asians were permitted to land in British Columbia. Those who had arrived were often single men and many returned to South Asia, others sought opportunities south of the border in the USA. It is estimated that the number of South Asians in British Columbia fell to less than 2000 by 1914.[9]

The Canadian government re-enfranchised the Indo-Canadian community with the right to vote in 1947.[8]

When British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan (East and West) upon independence in 1947. Thousands of people were moved across the new borders. Research in Canada suggests that many of the early Goans to emigrate to Canada were those who were born and lived in Karachi, Bombay and Calcutta. At the time Goa was under Portuguese rule and faced an uncertain future. Goans as Christians were very much tied to British administration and saw little opportunity in Hindu-dominated India or Muslim-dominated Pakistan.[10] Another group of people that arrived in Canada at this time were the Anglo-Indians, actually people of mixed European and South Indian stock.

In 1967 all immigration quotas based on specific ethnic groups were scrapped in Canada.[8] The social view in Canada towards people of other ethnic backgrounds was more open, and Canada was facing declining immigration from European countries, since these European countries had booming postwar economies, and thus more people decided to remain in their home countries. Canada introduced an immigration policy that was based on a point system, with each applicant being assessed on their trade skills and the need for these skills in Canada. This allowed many more Indians to immigrate in large numbers and a trickle of Goans (who were English-speaking and Catholic) started to arrive after the African Great Lakes countries imposed Africanization policies.[11] In the 1970s, thousands of immigrants came yearly and mainly settled in Vancouver and Toronto.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, tens of thousands of immigrants continued to move from India into Canada. According to Statistics Canada, since the late 1990s roughly 25,000–30,000 Indians arrive each year (which is now the second-most populous cultural group immigrating to Canada each year, behind Chinese immigrants who are the largest group). The settlement pattern in the last two decades is still mainly focused around Vancouver, but other cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal have also become desirable due to growing economic prospects in these cities.

Indians from other countries

In addition to tracing their origin directly to the Indian subcontinent, many Indo-Canadians who arrive in Canada come from other parts of the world, as part of the global Indian diaspora.

Number of Indians immigrating from different regions of the world (source)
Region Total Responses
Immigrant population 474,530
United States 2,410
Central and South America 40,475
Caribbean and Bermuda 24,295
Europe 12,390
**United Kingdom 11,200
**Other European 1,190
Africa 45,530
Asia 332,150
**West Central Asia and the Middle East 6,965
**Eastern Asia 720
**South-East Asia 4,260
**South Asia 320,200
Oceania and other 17,280
Non-permanent residents 9,950

Indians from Africa

Due to political turmoil and prejudice, many Indians residing in the African Great Lakes nations, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, left the region for Canada and other Western countries. A majority of Indo-Canadians from Southeast Africa are Ismaili Muslims, with significant numbers of Hindus mostly from South Africa.

Deepak Obhrai is the first Indo-African Canadian to become a member of parliament in Canada as well as the first Hindu to be appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, he is originally from Tanzania. He received the Pride of India award from the Indo-American Friends Group of Washington DC and Indo-American Business Chamber in a dinner ceremony held on Capitol Hill for his effort in strengthening ties between Canada and India.[12]

M.G. Vassanji, an award-winning novelist who writes on the plight of Indians in the region, is a naturalized Canadian of Indian descent who migrated from the Great Lakes.

The writer Ladis Da Silva (1920–1994) was a Zanzibar-born Canadian of Goan descent who wrote The Americanization of Goans.[13] He emigrated in 1968 from Kenya and was a prolific writer and social reformer, working with First Nations, Inuit and Senior Citizens in the Greater Toronto Area.[14]

Indians have also moved to Canada from Southern African nations such as Zambia, Malawi and South Africa for similar reasons. Examples of successful Indo-Canadians from this migratory stream are Suhana Meharchand and Nirmala Naidoo, television newscasters of Indian descent from South Africa, who currently work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Indira Naidoo-Harris is another Canadian broadcaster who is of Indian descent from South Africa.

Two of the most high-profile Indo-Africans are CNN's Zain Verjee and Ali Velshi. Verjee was educated in Canada while Velshi's father Murad Velshi who immigrated from South Africa was the first MPP of Indian descent to sit in the Ontario legislature.

The most notable story of Indo-African immigration to Canada is set in the 1970s, when in 1972 50,000 Indian Ugandans were forced out of Uganda by the dictator Idi Amin, and were not permitted to return to India by the Indian government. Although on the brink of facing torture and imprisonment on a massive scale, the Aga Khan IV, leader of the Nizari Ismaili Community, specially negotiated his followers' safe departure from Uganda in exchange for all their belongings. He also negotiated their guaranteed asylum in Canada with Prime Minister and close friend Pierre Elliott Trudeau. A notable descendent of Ugandan Indian settlement in Canada is Irshad Manji, an acclaimed advocate for secularism and reform in Islam. The community of Goans is also mainly from the African Great Lakes.

Indians from the Caribbean

See also: Indo-Caribbean

Indo-Caribbean people or Indo-Caribbeans are Caribbean people with roots in India.

The Indo-Caribbean community has developed a unique cultural blend of both Indian, Western and "Creolised Caribbean" culture due to a long period of isolation from India, amongst other reasons. Some Indo-Caribbean Canadians associate themselves with the Indo-Canadian community. However, most associate with the Indo-Caribbean community, or the Wider Caribbean community, or with both. They mainly live within the Greater Toronto Area. The vast majority do not subscribe to the term South Asian and are opposed to being classified as such and in their daily lives, describe themselves as "Indians."

Indians from the UK and the United States

Some Indians have immigrated from the UK and the United States due to both economic and family reasons. Indians move for economic prospects to Canada's economy and job market and have been performing well against many European and some American states. Lastly, individuals have decided to settle in Canada in order to reunite their family who may have settled in both the United States and UK and not in Canada.

Indians from the Middle East

Many Indians have been moving from countries in the Middle East to North America.

Most Indian immigrants from the Middle East are Indian businessmen and professionals that worked in the Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A key priority for these immigrants is educational opportunities for their children post schooling. Many of these students have stayed back after graduation and started their families there. The vast majority of Indo-Canadians from the Middle East are of Malayali ethnicity. Another cause for immigration to Canada is the desire to be free of persecution. Human rights and freedom of religion is a big issue in many Arabian countries such as Saudi Arabia. Many of these countries prohibit the practicing of other religions besides Islam, so many Hindu, Christian and Sikh Indians in the Middle East consider moving to Canada for a better life.[15]

Indians from Oceania

See also: Indians in Fiji

Indians have long been settled in certain parts of Oceania, mainly on the island of Fiji, where they comprise approximately 50% of the island's population. Since Fiji's independence, increased hostility between the Melanesian Fijian population and the Indo-Fijian population has led to several significant confrontations politically. Therefore, some Indo-Fijians are moving from the island to USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand due to political instability and ethnic conflict. A majority of the Indian immigrants from Fiji have settled in British Columbia and Alberta, with a significant population in the Greater Toronto Area as well, most of whom are Hindus, with a significant portion of Christians, Sikhs and Muslims as well. The Fijian Hindu population in Canada is not as diverse religiously as the general Indo-Canadian community. Fijian Indians have established cultural centres and organisations in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. The biggest Indo-Fijian cultural centre in Canada is the Fiji Sanatan Society of Alberta in Edmonton, built in 1984 by some of the first Fijian Hindu immigrants in Edmonton, it is officially a Hindu temple, but also hosts many community events.

Indo-Canadian demographics

Population settlement

The Indo-Canadian population according to the National Household Survey in the 2011 in the 10 Canadian Provinces and 3 territories:[16]

Province Indian %
 Ontario 722,153 5.3%
 British Columbia 302,153 6.5%
 Alberta 140,265 3.7%
 Quebec 53,400 0.6%
 Manitoba 25,400 2.0%
 Saskatchewan 10,200 0.9%
 Nova Scotia 4,400 0.4%
 New Brunswick 2,605 0.3%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 1,395 0.3%
 Yukon 310 0.9%
 Prince Edward Island 255 0.2%
 Northwest Territories 165 0.4%
 Nunavut 80 0.3%
Canada Canada 1,260,000 3.8%

Cities with large Indo-Canadian populations:[17] Canadian metropolitan areas with large Indo-Canadian populations:

City Province Indian Percentage
Toronto Ontario 572,250 10.4%
Greater Vancouver British Columbia 217,820 9.6%
Montréal Quebec 45,640 1.2%
Calgary Alberta 66,640 5.6%
Edmonton Alberta 46,570 5.9%
Ottawa Ontario 20,535 2.6%
Winnipeg Manitoba 19,855 2.8%
Hamilton Ontario 18,270 2.6%
Victoria British Columbia 7,260 2.2%
Kitchener Ontario 16,305 3.5%

As of 2014, the Indo-Canadian population has passed the 1 million mark.[18]


Toronto has the largest Indo-Canadian population in Canada. Almost 51% of the entire Indo-Canadian community resides in the Greater Toronto Area. Most Indo-Canadians in the Toronto area live in Brampton, Markham, Scarborough, Etobicoke, and Mississauga. Indo-Canadians have a particularly strong presence in Brampton, where they represent a third of the population. (Most live in the northeastern and Eastern portion of the city). The area is middle and upper middle class, home ownership is very high. The Indo-Canadians in this region are mostly of Punjabi, Malayalee, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Goan origin. When compared to the Indo-Canadian community of Greater Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area is home to a much more diverse community of Indians - both linguistically and religiously. Indian carrier Jet Airways and Canadian carrier Air Canada both operate flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport to India.

Indo-Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area have an average household income of $86,425, which is higher than the Canadian average of $79,102 but lower than the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area's average of $95,326.[19][20]

Canada's largest Hindu temple, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto, as well as Canada's largest Sikh gurdwara, the Ontario Khalsa Darbar, are both located in the Greater Toronto Area. Both have been built by Canada's Indian community.

Greater Vancouver

Around 20% of the entire Indo-Canadian community resides in Greater Vancouver and nearby areas. Settlement by Indo-Canadians has occurred increasingly since the point system was introduced to allow immigrants into Canada.

The highest density concentrations of Indo-Canadians are found in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Abbotsford and Delta. Recently, more Indians have been moving to other areas outside of Greater Vancouver. The city of Surrey has over 107,000 South Asians, comprising about 30% of the city's population.[21] The Punjabi Market neighbourhood of South Vancouver also has a particularly high concentration of Indian residents, shops and restaurants.

A large majority of Indo-Canadians within Vancouver are of Punjabi Sikh origin.[22] However, there are also populations with other ethnic backgrounds including Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali, and Goans.[23]


5% of the Indo-Canadian Community resides in Calgary. Calgary has one of the fastest growing Indo-Canadian communities in Canada. Indo-Canadians are the second-largest minority in Calgary after the Chinese.


Indo-Canadian religious profile (2001) (Source)
Religion Total responses Single responses Multiple Responses
Total 713,330 581,665 131,665
Sikhism 239,225 217,805 21,425
Hinduism 192,680 174,455 18,225
Islam 124,650 101,015 23,635
Christianity 117,430 65,485 51,945
Eastern religions 5,875 4,785 1,090
Buddhism 11,435 870 560
Jainism 1,291 803 600
Judaism 655 160 500
Other religions 655 540 120
No religious affiliation 30,725 16,555 14,175

Indo-Canadians are from very diverse religious backgrounds compared to many other ethnic groups, which is due in part to India's multi-religious population. Unlike in India however, representation of various minority religious groups is much higher amongst the Indo-Canadian population. For instance in India, Sikhs comprise 2% and Christians 2.2% of the population of India, Hindus 80–82% and Muslims 13.4%. Amongst the Indo-Canadian population however, the religious views are more evenly divided. In 2001, Sikhs represented 35%, Hindus 28%, Muslims 17% and Christians 16% (7% Protestant/Evangelical, 9% Catholic).[2] Relatively few people of Indian origin have no religious affiliation. In 2001, just 4% said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 17% of the Canadian population.[24]

Places of worship

Indians have been building places of worship for their respective faiths since the first settlers arrived to Canada. There are well over 175 Sikh societies/Gurdwaras in Canada alone. Hindu temples are usually established by separate Indian ethnic communities and while in a large number, are not as quantitative as Sikh gurdwaras. For instance, there are separate temples for North and South Indians, due to different customs and languages spoken. The Malayalee Hindus from Kerala are building a Guruvayurappan ( Krishna)Temple in Brampton. There are also many Islamic societies and mosques throughout Canada, which have been established and supported by Non-Indian and Indian Muslims alike. Indian Christians tend to attend churches based on their state of origin and their particular traditions including the Church of North India, Church of South India, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Indian Pentecostal Church.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto is located in Etobicoke, and it was built by Toronto's Gujarati Hindu community.

Within Toronto, the largest Hindu temple in Canada is located on Claireville Drive, which is called the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto. The entire Mandir is 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) and hosts numerous events on the Hindu religious calendar.

In Mississauga, Ontario Hindu Swaminarayan and Cultural Center Inspired by PP Hariprasad Swamiji Maharaj located at 6875 Professional Court,Mississauga, Ontario, L4V 1Y3. Temple celebrates all Indian festivals and Youth committee of the temple involved in Youth activities, Networking for New immigrants, Career and Health support and Support to New Immigrants.

Many Indian Muslims along with Muslims of other nationalities worship at one of the largest mosques in Canada, the ISNA Centre, located in Mississauga. The facility contains a mosque, high school, community centre, banquet hall and funeral service available for all Muslim Canadians.

The Ismailis have the first Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre set up in Burnaby, British Columbia. This high-profile building is the second in the world, with other locations in London, Lisbon, and Dubai. A second such building is being built in Toronto.

The majority of people of Goan origin in Canada are Roman Catholics who share the same parish churches as other Catholic Canadians, however they often celebrate the feast of St Francis Xavier, who is the Patron Saint of the Indies, and whose body lies in Goa.[25]


Indian languages spoken at home in Canada (source)
Language Total: Language spoken at home Only speaks Mostly speaks Equally speaks Regularly speaks
Punjabi* 280,540 132,380 71,660 29,220 47,280
Hindi 165,890 114,175 116,075 19,090 26,550
Urdu* 89,365 30,760 27,840 12,200 18,565
Tamil* 97,345 45,865 29,745 9,455 12,280
Gujarati 60,105 18,310 16,830 7,175 17,790
Malayalam 6,570 1,155 1,810 505 3,100
Bengali* 29,705 12,840 9,615 2,780 4,470
* Note that these languages are also spoken in Canada by immigrants from other South Asian countries such as: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

Indo-Canadians speak a variety of languages, reflecting the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Indian subcontinent. The most widely spoken South Asian language is Punjabi, which is spoken by people from Punjab in India and in Pakistan they come from the Punjab Province or Islamabad Capital Territory. Punjabi is a language mainly spoken by Indo-Canadians from Punjab, India. The next most widely spoken language by South Asians is Tamil. These individuals hail from the state of Tamil Nadu in India, and speakers in Canada of the Tamil language come from both India and Sri Lanka. Urdu is primarily spoken by Muslim South Asians from North India and Pakistan. However, individuals of Indian descent from Africa and the Caribbean may also speak it as well. Gujarati is language spoken exclusively by people from the Indian state of Gujarat. Indians (Ismailis) from the African Great Lakes who subsequently migrated to Canada speak Gujarati. Zoroastrians from the western part of India who form a small percentage of the population in Canada, also speak Gujarati. Bengali is spoken by individuals from the state of West Bengal, as well as by the people of Bangladesh, and thus it is not exclusively spoken by Indo-Canadians in Canada, but also by Bangladeshis. There are also a large number of Malayalam language-speakers, who hail from the state of Kerala in South India.There is also a community of English-speaking Goans from the African Great Lakes. Few members of this community speak their original language Konkani.

Indo-Canadian culture

A young Indo-Canadian woman performing Bhangra dancing
An Indo-Canadian girl performing a Gujarati folk dance in Downtown Calgary

Indo-Canadian culture is closely linked to each specific Indian group's religious, regional, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, Northern Indian cultural practices and languages differ from those of Southern Indians, and the Hindu community's cultural practices differ from those of the Jain, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities due to differences in ethnicity, regional affiliation, religion and/or language. Such cultural aspects have been preserved fairly well due to Canada's open policy of multiculturalism, as opposed to a policy of assimilation practiced by the United States and the United Kingdom.

The cultures and languages of various Indian communities have been able to thrive in part due to the freedom of these communities to establish structures and institutions for religious worship, social interaction and cultural practices. In particular, Punjabi culture and language have been reinforced in Canada through radio and television.

Alternatively, Indo-Canadian culture has developed its own identity compared to other non-resident Indians and from people in India. It is not uncommon to find youth uninterested with traditional Indian cultural elements and events, instead identifying with mainstream North American cultural mores. However such individuals exist in a minority and there are many youth that maintain a balance between western and eastern cultural values, and occasionally fusing the two to produce a new product, such as the new generation of Bhangra incorporating hip hop based rhythm. For instance, Sikh youth often mix in traditional Bhangra, which uses Punjabi instruments with hip hop beats as well as including rap with Black music entertainers. Notable entertainers include Raghav and Jazzy B.


Arranged and non-arranged marriage

A group of Punjabi Indo-Canadians attending a Punjabi wedding reception

Marriage is an important cultural element amongst many Indo-Canadians, due to their Indian heritage and religious background.[26] Arranged marriage, which is still widely practiced in India, is no longer widely practiced among Canadian-born or naturalized Indians. However, marriages are sometimes still arranged by parents within their specific caste or Indian ethnic community. Since it may be difficult to find someone of the same Indian ethnic background with the desired characteristics, some Indo-Canadians now opt to use matrimonial services, including online services, in order to find a marriage partner. Marriage practices amongst Indo-Canadians are not as liberal as those of their Indian counterparts, with caste sometimes considered, butdowries almost non-existent.[26]

In 2012 Mandeep Kaur, the author of the PhD thesis Canadian-Punjabi Philanthropy and its Impact on Punjab: A Sociological Study, wrote that compared to other ethnic groups, Indo-Canadians engage in more arranged marriages within ethnic communities and castes and engage in less dating; this is because these Indo-Canadian communities wish to preserve their cultural practices.[27]

Love-based marriage, where the partners choose themselves rather than their parents arranging the marriage, occurs commonly and is the normal procedure among Goans. Dating is practiced among many Indo-Canadians, but it is not as prevalent as other Canadian ethnic groups because some families maintain traditional Indian values.

Cross-cultural and interracial marriage

The phenomenon of cross-cultural and interracial marriage has been present in Canada for some years. However, the Indo-Canadian community engages in such marriages to a much lesser extent than members of most other visible minorities. However, there is interracial marriage in the second generation. As a result of assimilation, mixed European/White, and Indian backgrounds are becoming more prevalent.

In 2012 Kaur wrote that in comparison to other immigrant communities in Canada, Indo-Canadians do not do as many interracial marriages.[27]

Cross cultural marriages are those that occur between Indo-Canadians and other South Asians which differ in their ethnic background (as in Punjabi or Gujarati), or by religious background. These types of marriages - especially those between different ethnic backgrounds - do occur more often than those between different religions.

Indo-Canadian Muslims have a higher likelihood of allowing a male to marry outside of the Islamic religion compared to a female.[28]

Notable celebrities of biracial (Indian and European background) are Emanuel Sandhu, Manny Malhotra, Lisa Ray and Shaun Majumder.

Television, radio and newspaper

There are numerous radio programs that represent Indo-Canadian culture. One notable program is Geetmala Radio, hosted by Darshan and Arvinder Sahota (also longtime television hosts of Indo-Canadian program, Eye on Asia).

A number of Canadian television networks broadcast programming that features Indo-Canadian culture. One prominent multicultural/multireligious channel, Vision TV, presents a nonstop marathon of Indo-Canadian shows on Saturdays. These television shows often highlight Indo-Canadian events in Canada, and also show events from India involving Indians who reside there. In addition, other networks such as Omni Television, CityTV and local community access channels also present local Indo-Canadian content, and Indian content from India.

In recent years, there has been an establishment of Indian television networks from India on Canadian television. Shan Chandrasehkhar, an established Indo-Canadian who pioneered one of the first Indo-Canadian television shows in Canada, made a deal with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to allow Indian television networks based in India to send a direct feed to Canada. In doing so, he branded these channels under his own company known as the Asian Television Network. Since 1997, Indo-Canadians can subscribe to channels from India via purchasing TV channel packages from their local satellite/cable companies. Indo-Canadians view such networks as Zee TV, B4U, Sony Entertainment Television, and Aaj Tak to name a few. Goan communities are connected by a number of city-based websites that inform the community of local activities such as dances, religious services and village feasts, that serve to connect the community to its rural origins in Goa.[29]

Radio stations in the Greater Toronto Area with Indo Canadian content include CJSA-FM broadcasting on 101.3FM. Another station is CINA broadcasting on AM 1650.

Major newspapers include Canindia News in Toronto & Montreal, The Asian Star and The Punjabi Star in Vancouver.

As of 2012 there are many Punjabi newspapers, most of which are published in Vancouver and Toronto. As of that year, 50 of them are weekly, two are daily, and others are monthly.[27]

By 2012, partly due to coverage of Air India Flight 182, coverage of Punjabi issues in the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and other mainstream Canadian newspapers had increased.[27]


Elizabeth Kamala Nayar, author of The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations Amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism, defined "Indo-Canadians" as persons born in Canada of Indian subcontinent origins.[30] Kavita A. Sharma, author of The Ongoing Journey: Indian Migration to Canada, wrote that she used "Indo-Canadians" to only refer to those of origins from India who have Canadian citizenship. Otherwise she uses "Indo-Canadian" in an interchangeable manner with "South Asians" and "East Indians".[31] Priya S. Mani, the author of "Methodological Dilemmas Experienced in Researching Indo-Canadian Young Adults’ Decision-Making Process to Study the Sciences," defined "Indo-Canadian" as being children of persons who immigrated from South Asia to Canada.[32]

As of 2004, "Indo-Canadian" is a term used in mainstream circles of people in Canada. The term originated as a part of the Canadian government's multicultural policies and ideologies in the 1980s.[30] Statistics Canada does not use "Indo-Canadian" as an official category for people.[33] Nayar, in The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver, wrote that "many Canadian-born South Asians dislike the term because it differentiates them from other Canadians."[30]

In Canada "South Asian" refers to persons with ancestry throughout South Asia, while "East Indian" means someone with origins specifically from India.[34] Both terms are used by Statistics Canada.[35] As of 2001 about half of foreign-born persons claiming an "East Indian" ancestry originated from India, while others originated from Bangladesh, East Africa, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[36]

Widyarini Sumartojo, the author of the PhD thesis “My kind of Brown”: Indo-Canadian youth identity and belonging in Greater Vancouver, wrote that "While “South Asian” thus refers to a broader group of people, it is often used somewhat interchangeably with “East Indian” and “Indo-Canadian.”"[35] Despite the diversity in ethnic groups and places of origin among South Asians, previously the term "South Asian" had been used to be synonymous with "Indian."[37] The Canadian Encyclopedia stated that the same population has been "referred to as South Asians, Indo-Canadians or East Indians".[38] Martha L. Henderson, author of Geographical Identities of Ethnic America: Race, Space, and Place, argued that "The term "South Asian" is meaningful as a defining boundary only in interactions between South Asians and mainstream Canadians."[37] The Canadian Encyclopedia wrote that "People referred to as "South Asian" view the term in the way that those from European countries might view the label "European.""[38] Henderson added that because of the conflation of "South Asian" and "Indian," "It is very difficult to isolate the history of Asian Indians in Canada from that of other South Asians".[37]

In 1962 "Pakistani" and "Ceylonese" (Sri Lankan) were made into separate ethnic categories, while prior to that year people with those origins were counted as being "East Indian".[39]

Notable Indo-Canadians past and present

The Indo-Canadian community has had many members involved in the areas of entertainment, academia and most notably politics in Canada. For a full list of notable Indo-Canadians, past and present see the List of Indo-Canadians page.

Films with Indo-Canadian subject matter

Notably, the largest presence of Bollywood that Canada has seen in the 21st century is an international Bollywood awards show in June 2011. It is the 2011 IIFA Awards, held in the 50,000 seat Rogers Centre in Toronto. Toronto has been chosen as the host city with its large population of 600,000 South Asians. Most actors and actresses in the film industry will be making their way to Toronto for the awards, which are expected to catch a TV audience of over 500 million people from around the globe. Test

See also


  1. "Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada - Data table". 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  2. 1 2 "The East Indian community in Canada." Statistics Canada. Retrieved on November 10, 2014.
  3. ."
  4. 1 2 Statistics Canada. "The East Indian Community in Canada". Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  5. Research by Thomas Brown 2004
  6. Research by Clifford Pereira, 2014.
  7. Singh, Khushwant (Feb 26 – Mar 12, 1961). "The Ghadr Rebellion". Illustrated Weekly of India: Feb 26 – Mar 12,. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "SOME SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS IN SIKH-CANADIAN HISTORY" (Archive). ExplorAsian. Retrieved on November 10, 2014.
  9. Pg. 79. White Canada Forever. By W. Peter Ward. 2002. McGill, Quebec, Canada. ISBN 978-07735-2322-7
  10. Pg.106. The Americanization of Goans. By Ladis de Silva. 1976. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
  11. Pg. 107. The Americanization of Goans. By Ladis DaSilva. 1976. Toronto. Ontario. Canada.
  13. The Americanization of Goans. By Ladis Da Silva. 1976. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  14. Pp.265-267. Profiles of Eminent Goans: Past and Present. By J. Clement Vaz Ph.D. 1997 New Delhi, India. ISBN 81-7022-619-8
  16. "NHS Profile, 2011 ." Statistics Canada. Retrieved on November 10, 2014.
  17. Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations - 20% sample data Statistics Canada.
  18. "Indian Diaspora | NRI Population | PIO Card | Nri Remittance | NRI Investment". Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  21. Johnston, Jesse. "Can Vancouver’s Little India district survive?" (Archived 2014-10-19 at WebCite). CKWX (News 1130). February 4, 2013. Retrieved on October 19, 2014.
  22. "Country Brief – Canada" (Archived 2014-10-21 at WebCite). Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. p. 3/7. Retrieved on October 21, 2014. "The vast majority of Vancouver Indians are of Sikh Punjabi origin."
  23. "Annexes" (Archived 2014-10-21 at WebCite). Report of Meetings with Representatives of the Indo‑Canadian Community. Government of Canada. Retrieved on October 21, 2014.
  25. Lira, Sergio, Rogerio Amoeda, and Cristina Pinheiro (editors). Sharing Cultures 2011. Edited by Sergio Lira, Rogerio Amoeda and Cristina Pinheiro. Green Lines Institute for Sustainable Development (Green Lines Instituto para o Desenvolvimento Sustentavel) (Barcelos, Portugal), 2011. ISBN 978-989-95671-4-6. Pp531-540. See profile at Google Books.
  26. 1 2 Indian Dating
  27. 1 2 3 4 Kaur, Mandeep. "THE MAKING OF CANADIAN PUNJABI DIASPORA" (Archived 2014-11-10 at WebCite) (Chapter 3). In: Kaur, Mandeep. Canadian-Punjabi Philanthropy and its Impact on Punjab: A Sociological Study (PhD thesis). Punjabi University. Award date: 22 August 2012. p. 85 (PDF 25/32).
  28. Gibbons, Jacqueline A. (York University). "Indo-Canadian "Mixed" Marriage: Context and Dilemmas" (Archived April 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.). Polyphony Vol.12, 1990 pp. 93-98. Copyrighted by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. Posted to TG Magazine/The Students Commission.
  29. German, Myna and Padmini Banerjee. Migration, Technology, and Transculturation: A Global Perspective. Lindenwood University Press (St. Charles, Missouri), 2011. ISBN 978-0-9846307-4-5. Pp. 165-183. See profile at Google Books.
  30. 1 2 3 Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth. The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations Amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism. University of Toronto Press, 2004. ISBN 0802086314, 9780802086310. p. 236. See: "9 The term 'Indo-Canadians' came into use in the 1980s as a result of the Canadian government's policy and ideology of multiculturalism. It refers to Canadian-born people whose origins are on the Indian subcontinent." and "9 The term 'Indo-Canadians' came into use[...]"
  31. Sharma, Kavita A. The Ongoing Journey: Indian Migration to Canada. Creative Books, 1997. ISBN 8186318399, 9788186318393. p. 16. "Notes 1 Indians are variously designated as East Indians, South Asians and Indo- Canadians. The terms are used interchangeably throughout this book except that 'Indo-Canadian' has been used for only those Indians who have acquired Canadian citizenship." - Search view, Search view #2
  32. Mani, Priya S. (University of Manitoba). "Methodological Dilemmas Experienced in Researching Indo-Canadian Young Adults’ Decision-Making Process to Study the Sciences." International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2) June 2006. PDF p. 2/14. "The term South Asian refers to the Statistics Canada classification, which includes young adults who identify as Sikh, Hindu, or Muslim religious background (Statistics Canada, 2001). In this article, the term Indo-Canadian refers to children of South Asian immigrants."
  33. Sumartojo, Widyarini. “My kind of Brown”: Indo-Canadian youth identity and belonging in Greater Vancouver (PhD thesis) (Archived 2014-10-19 at WebCite). Simon Fraser University, 2012. p. 8 (PDF document 18/182). See profile at Simon Fraser University.
  34. Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth. The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations Amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism. University of Toronto Press, 2004. ISBN 0802086314, 9780802086310, p. 235. "3 'East Indians' refers to people whose roots are specifically in India. Although there is no country called East India, the British gave and used the term 'East India.' The British and Canadians commonly used the term 'East Indian' during the early period of Indian migration to Canada." and "4 'South Asians' is a very broad category as it refers to people originally in the geographical area of South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. 'South Asians' also refers to Indians who have migrated to other parts of the world such as Fiji, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and East Africa."
  35. 1 2 Sumartojo, Widyarini. “My kind of Brown”: Indo-Canadian youth identity and belonging in Greater Vancouver (PhD thesis) (Archived 2014-10-19 at WebCite). Simon Fraser University, 2012. p. 7 (PDF document 17/182). See profile at Simon Fraser University.
  36. "The East Indian community in Canada 2007" (Archived 2014-10-15 at WebCite). Statistics Canada. Retrieved on November 10, 2014. "That year, roughly half of all foreign-born Canadians of East Indian origin were from India, while smaller numbers were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as East Africa"
  37. 1 2 3 Henderson, Martha L. Geographical Identities of Ethnic America: Race, Space, and Place. University of Nevada Press, 2002. ISBN 0874174872, 9780874174878. p. 65.
  38. 1 2 "South Asians" (Archived November 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.). The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved on November 10, 2014.
  39. Ames, Michael M. & Joy Inglis. 1974. “Conflict and Change in British Columbia Sikh Family Life” (Archived 2014-10-21 at WebCite). In British Columbia Studies, Vol. 20. Winter 1973-1974. CITED: p. 19.

Further reading

External links

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