Immigrant Diasporas in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Immigrant Diasporas in Canada

The term “diaspora” refers to the members of a community who have dispersed out of their country of origin, often around the world. (See Emigration.) The members of a diaspora maintain close ties with the other members of their community living in their country of origin or in other countries and often have a sense of common identity with them.


Historically, the Diaspora referred to the dispersion of the Jewish community outside of Palestine. In the second half of the 20th century, the term started to be used in a more general sense to apply to various communities. In 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) defined diaspora as “migrants or descendants of migrants, whose identity and sense of belonging have been shaped by their migration experience and background.”  (See also United Nations.) The word is therefore a synonym for a transnational community—one that transcends the borders of any one country.

Diasporas in Canada

In Canada, all of the various diasporas are composed of first-generation immigrants and their descendants.

According to the 2016 census, nearly 21.9% of Canada’s population was born abroad. As of 2010, Canada was the G8 country with the highest proportion of immigrants, ahead of Germany (13%) and the United States (12.9%). (See also Canada and the United States.) Canada not only has been built on immigration, but has prospered from it. The way that new immigrants are welcomed and integrated into Canadian society, along with Canada’s economic situation, make Canada a country of choice for emigrants from around the world.

Canada’s diasporas are hard to quantify, but census data can be used to estimate the size of a given diaspora based on the various origins of residents.

In 2016, the census identified over 250 different ethnic origins in Canada. The largest diasporas in this country include the communities of Chinese origin (1.77 million), Italian origin (1.59 million), Indian origin (1.37 million) and Ukrainian origin (1.37 million). India has the largest first-generation-immigrant diaspora in the world, with close to 18 million people as of 2020.

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