Immigrants and Refugees | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Afghan Canadians

    The Afghan community in Canada is relatively new. Until 1978, about 1,000 Afghans lived in Canada. However, since 1978, decades of political instability, invasions and war in Afghanistan pushed many to leave to other countries. Since then, the Afghan population in Canada has grown. (See Refugees to Canada.) According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 census, approximately 84,000 Afghans are living in Canada, the majority of whom are settled in the suburbs of major cities.

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    African Canadians

    Prior to 1960, black Africans comprised a very small, scattered and almost unknown group of newcomers to Canada, although Africans of European and Asian ancestry had a clearer presence. According to the 2016 census, 1,067,925 Canadians reported being of African origin (682,570 single and 385,355 multiple responses). Of that number, 230,110 people reported Central and West African origins; 355,040 reported North African origins; 260,145 reported Southern and East African origins and; 239,560 reported other African origins.

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    Any act of migration is an adventure and the adventuring spirit has at times characterized even the North American migrant. The interpenetration of the Canadian and American peoples has been such that no Canadian can have escaped its influence.

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    Arab Canadians

    Arabs, or more specifically, Syrian-Lebanese immigrants, began to arrive in Canada in small numbers in 1882. Their immigration was relatively limited until 1945, after which time it increased progressively, particularly in the 1960s and thereafter.

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    Armenian Canadians

    The present-day republic of Armenia was created in 1991 and includes only a small part of the territory that made up Ancient Armenia. Armenian migration to Canada began in the late 19th century. The 2016 census reported 63, 810 people of Armenian origin in Canada (34, 560 single and 29, 250 multiple responses).

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    Jay Armin

    Jay (James) Armin, teacher, violinist (born 11 January 1915 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine; died 12 July 2008 in Toronto). BA (Manitoba) 1947, Associate in Music PAED (Western Ontario) 1953.

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    Belgian Canadians

    Belgians have contributed significantly to the economic, social and cultural development of Canada despite their relatively small numbers and their dispersion across the country. Originally, the majority of immigrants were Flemings whose settlement concentred in the agricultural regions of Québec, southwestern Ontario and Manitoba. Since 1945, Belgian immigrants have tended to be young, well-educated French-speaking professionals and entrepreneurs who prefer the urban centres, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta.

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    Bessie Starkman

    Besha (Bessie) Starkman (Perri), organized crime boss (born 14 April 1889 or 21 June 1890 in Poland; died 13 August 1930 in Hamilton, ON). During the Prohibition era she became known as Canada’s first high-profile female crime boss. With her common-law spouse, mobster Rocco Perri, she ran a bootlegging and drug-smuggling enterprise. Starkman was gunned down in the garage of her home and her murderers were never caught. Her funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Hamilton.

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    Black Canadians

    Black Canadians, or African Canadians, are people of African or Caribbean ancestry who live in Canada. According to the 2016 Canadian census, 1.2 million Canadians (3.5 per cent of the population) identified as being Black. This is a summary of Black history in Canada. For more detailed information, please see our articles on Black History in Canada until 1900, Black History in Canada: 1900-1960 and Black History in Canada: 1960 to Present.. See also African Canadians and Caribbean Canadians.

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    Byelorussian Canadians

    Byelorussian Canadians (Byelarussians, Belarusians) originate from Belarus and are considered an eastern Slavic people. In 2016, 20,710 Canadians reported themselves as being mainly or partly Byelorussian.

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    Cabbagetown, a district in east-central Toronto, the general boundaries of which are the Don River on the east, Parliament St on the west, Gerrard St on the north, and Queen St on the south.

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    Cambodian or Khmer Canadians

    Immigration of Cambodians to Canada is relatively recent. From 1980 to 1992, Canada welcomed more than 18,000 Cambodia refugees who were fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime. They settled in Canada’s major urban areas. In the 2016 Census, 38,490 people reported being of Cambodian ethnic origin. Over the years since Cambodians began immigrating to Canada, many Cambodian Canadians have become distinguished in their fields; examples include actress Ellen Wong, journalist Chan Tep and graffiti artist FONKi.

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    Caribbean Canadians

    People from the Caribbean region began to settle in Canada in the late 18th century (see Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia and Black Canadians). In the 2016 census, 749,155 Canadians reported that they originated from the Caribbean, and most have immigrated to Canada since the 1970s.  

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    Cecelia Jane Reynolds

    Cecelia Jane Reynolds, freedom seeker (born c. May 1831 in Virginia; died 4 June 1909 in Louisville, Kentucky). In May 1846, Cecelia fled her Kentucky enslavers by way of Niagara Falls and the Underground Railroad. Letters between Cecelia and Fanny Thruston, the Louisville belle to whom she had been a personal servant, have become unique primary sources for historians studying enslavement and relations between the formerly enslaved and American slaveholders.

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    Celebrating Asian Heritage in Canada

    Many Canadians today see our diverse population as a source of pride and strength — for good reason. More than one in five Canadians were born elsewhere. That is the highest percentage of immigrants in the G7 group of large industrialized nations. Asia (including people born in the Middle East) has provided the greatest number of newcomers in recent years. Since the 1990s, Canadians — who once thought primarily of Europe when they considered events abroad — now define themselves, and the world, differently. As former prime minister Jean Chrétien said: “The Pacific is getting smaller and the Atlantic is becoming wider.”

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