Canadians (French: Canadiens / Canadiennes) are people identified with
the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal,
historical, or cultural. For most Canadians, several (or all) of these
connections exist and are collectively the source of their being
Canada is a multilingual and multicultural society home to people of
many different ethnic, religious and national origins, with the
majority of the population made up of
Old World immigrants and their
descendants. Following the initial period of French and then the much
larger British colonization, different waves (or peaks) of immigration
and settlement of non-indigenous peoples took place over the course of
nearly two centuries and continue today. Elements of Indigenous,
French, British, and more recent immigrant customs, languages and
religions have combined to form the culture of
Canada and thus a
Canada has also been strongly influenced by its
linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States.
Canadian independence from the
United Kingdom grew gradually over the
course of many years since the formation of the Canadian Confederation
World War I
World War I and World War II, in particular, gave rise to a
Canadians to have their country recognized as a
fully-fledged sovereign state with a distinct citizenship. Legislative
independence was established with the passage of the Statute of
Westminster 1931, the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946 took effect on
January 1, 1947, and full sovereignty was achieved with the patriation
of the constitution in 1982. Canada's nationality law closely mirrored
that of the United Kingdom. Legislation since the mid-20th century
represents Canadians' commitment to multilateralism and socioeconomic
1.2 Citizenship and diaspora
1.3 Ethnic ancestry
3 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
See also: Population of Canada
As of 2010,
Canadians make up only 0.5% of the world's total
population, having relied upon immigration for population growth
and social development. Approximately 41% of current
first- or second-generation immigrants, and 20% of Canadian
residents in the 2000s were not born in the country. Statistics
Canada projects that, by 2031, nearly one-half of
Canadians above the
age of 15 will be foreign-born or have one foreign-born parent.
Indigenous peoples, according to the 2011 Canadian Census, numbered at
1,400,685 or 4.3% of the country's 33,476,688 population.
Main article: Immigration to Canada
While the first contact with Europeans and indigenous peoples in
Canada had occurred a century or more before, the first group of
permanent settlers were the French, who founded the New France
settlements, in present-day
Quebec and Ontario; and Acadia, in
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, during the early part of
the 17th century.
Approximately 100 Irish-born families would settle the Saint Lawrence
Valley by 1700, assimilating into the Canadien population and
culture. During the 18th and 19th century; immigration
westward (to the area known as Rupert's Land) was carried out by
"Voyageurs"; French settlers working for the North West Company; and
by British settlers (English and Scottish) representing the Hudson's
Bay Company, coupled with independent entrepreneurial woodsman called
"Coureur des bois". This arrival of newcomers led to the creation
of the Métis, an ethnic group of mixed European and First Nations
The British conquest of New
France was preceded by a small number of
Swedes who settled alongside the Scottish in Port Royal,
Nova Scotia, while some Irish immigrated to the Colony of
Newfoundland. In the wake of the British
Conquest of 1760 and the
Expulsion of the Acadians, many families from the British colonies in
New England moved over into
Nova Scotia and other colonies in Canada,
where the British made farmland available to British settlers on easy
terms. More settlers arrived during and after the American
Revolutionary War, when approximately 60,000 United Empire Loyalists
fled to British North America, a large portion of whom settled in New
Brunswick. After the War of 1812, British (including British army
regulars), Scottish and Irish immigration was encouraged throughout
Rupert's Land, Upper
Canada and Lower Canada.
Between 1815 and 1850, some 800,000 immigrants came to the colonies of
British North America, mainly from the
British Isles as part of the
Great Migration of Canada. These new arrivals included some
Highland Scots displaced by the
Highland Clearances to
Nova Scotia. The
Irish Potato Famine
Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s significantly
increased the pace of Irish immigration to
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island and
the Province of Canada, with over 35,000 distressed individuals
Toronto in 1847 and 1848. Descendants of
Francophone and Anglophone northern Europeans who arrived in the 17th,
18th and 19th centuries are often referred to as Old Stock
Beginning in the late 1850s, the immigration of Chinese into the
Colony of Vancouver Island
Colony of Vancouver Island and
Colony of British Columbia
Colony of British Columbia peaked with
the onset of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. The Chinese Immigration
Act of 1885 eventually placed a head tax on all Chinese immigrants, in
hopes of discouraging Chinese immigration after completion of the
Canadian Pacific Railway.
Permanent Residents admitted in 2013,
by top 10 source countries
United Arab Emirates
Top 10 Total
The population of
Canada has consistently risen, doubling
approximately every 40 years, since the establishment of the Canadian
Confederation in 1867. In the mid-to-late 19th century,
a policy of assisting immigrants from Europe, including an estimated
100,000 unwanted "Home Children" from Britain. Block settlement
communities were established throughout western
Canada between the
late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were planned and others were
spontaneously created by the settlers themselves.
Canada was now
receiving a large number of European immigrants, predominantly
Italians, Germans, Scandinavians, Dutch, Poles, and Ukrainians.
Legislative restrictions on immigration (such as the Continuous
journey regulation and Chinese Immigration Act) that had favoured
British and other European immigrants were amended in the 1960s,
opening the doors to immigrants from all parts of the world. While
the 1950s had still seen high levels of immigration by Europeans, by
the 1970s immigrants were increasingly Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese,
Jamaican and Haitian. During the late 1960s and early 1970s,
Canada received many American
Vietnam War draft dissenters.
Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Canada's growing Pacific trade
brought with it a large influx of South Asians, who tended to settle
in British Columbia. Immigrants of all backgrounds tend to settle
in the major urban centres. The Canadian public, as well as
the major political parties, are tolerant of immigrants.
The majority of illegal immigrants come from the southern provinces of
the People's Republic of China, with Asia as a whole, Eastern Europe,
Africa and the
Middle East all contributing to the illegal
population. Estimates of numbers of illegal immigrants range
between 35,000 and 120,000. A 2008 report by the Auditor General
of Canada, Sheila Fraser, stated that
Canada has lost track of
approximately 41,000 illegal immigrants whose visas have expired.
Citizenship and diaspora
Main article: Canadian nationality law
Members of the first official Canadian Citizenship ceremony held at
the Supreme Court of
Canada in Ottawa, January 3, 1947
Canadian citizenship is typically obtained by birth in
Canada or by
birth or adoption abroad when at least one biological parent or
adoptive parent is a Canadian citizen who was born in
Canada (and did not receive citizenship by being born
Canada to a Canadian citizen). It can also be granted
to a permanent resident who lives in
Canada for three out of four
years and meets specific requirements.
Canada established its own
nationality law in 1946, with the enactment of the Canadian
Citizenship Act which took effect on January 1, 1947. The
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was passed by the Parliament of
Canada in 2001 as Bill C-11, which replaced the Immigration Act of
1976 as the primary federal legislation regulating immigration.
Prior to the conferring of legal status on Canadian citizenship,
Canada's naturalization laws consisted of a multitude of Acts
beginning with the Immigration Act of 1910.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there are three main
classifications for immigrants: Family class (persons closely related
to Canadian residents), Economic class (admitted on the basis of a
point system that accounts for age, health and labour-market skills
required for cost effectively inducting the immigrants into Canada's
labour market) and
Refugee class (those seeking protection by applying
to remain in the country by way of the Canadian immigration and
refugee law). In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family
class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the
247,243 total immigrants to the country.
Canada resettles over one
in 10 of the world's refugees and has one of the highest
per-capita immigration rates in the world.
As of a 2010 report by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, there
were 2.8 million Canadian citizens abroad. This represents about
8% of the total Canadian population. Of those living abroad, the
United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China, Lebanon,
United Arab Emirates, and
Australia have the largest Canadian
Canadians in the
United States constitute the greatest
single expatriate community at over 1 million in 2009, representing
35.8% of all
Canadians abroad. Under current Canadian law, Canada
does not restrict dual citizenship, but Passport
Canada encourages its
citizens to travel abroad on their
Canadian passport so that they can
access Canadian consular services.
Main article: Ethnic origins of people in Canada
Counting both single and multiple responses, the most commonly
identified ethnic origins were (2016)
(not included elsewhere)
According to the 2016 census, the country's largest self-reported
ethnic origin is Canadian (accounting for 32% of the population),[a]
followed by English (18.3%), Scottish (13.9%), French (13.6%), Irish
(13.4%), German (9.6%), Chinese (5.1%), Italian (4.6%), First Nations
(4.4%), Indian (4.0%), and Ukrainian (3.9%). There are 600
First Nations governments or bands, encompassing a total of
1,525,565 people. Canada's indigenous population is growing at
almost twice the national rate, and four percent of Canada's
population claimed an indigenous identity in 2006. Another 22.3
percent of the population belonged to a non-indigenous visible
minority. In 2016, the largest visible minority groups were South
Asian (5.6%), Chinese (5.1%) and Black (3.5%). Between 2011 and
2016, the visible minority population rose by 18.4 percent. In
1961, less than two percent of Canada's population (about 300,000
people) were members of visible minority groups. Indigenous
peoples are not considered a visible minority under the Employment
Equity Act, and this is the definition that Statistics
Main article: Culture of Canada
A 1911 political cartoon on Canada's bicultural identity showing a
flag combining symbols of Britain,
France and Canada; titled "The next
favor. 'A flag to suit the minority.'"
Canadian culture is primarily a Western culture, with influences by
First Nations and other cultures. It is a product of its ethnicities,
languages, religions, political and legal system(s).
Canada has been
shaped by waves of migration that have combined to form a unique blend
of art, cuisine, literature, humour, and music. Today,
a diverse makeup of nationalities and constitutional protection for
policies that promote multiculturalism rather than cultural
assimilation. In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many
French-speaking commentators speak of a
Quebec culture distinct from
English Canadian culture. However, as a whole,
Canada is a
cultural mosaic: a collection of several regional, indigenous, and
Canadian government policies such as official bilingualism; publicly
funded health care; higher and more progressive taxation; outlawing
capital punishment; strong efforts to eliminate poverty; strict gun
control; leniency in regard to drug use, and, most recently,
legalizing same-sex marriage are social indicators of Canada's
political and cultural values.
American media and
entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada;
conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are
successful in the
United States and worldwide. The Government of
Canada has also influenced culture with programs, laws and
institutions. It has created Crown corporations to promote Canadian
culture through media and has also tried to protect Canadian culture
by setting legal minimums on Canadian content.
Multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli in Toronto; four
identical sculptures are located in Buffalo City, Changchun, Sarajevo,
Canadian culture has historically been influenced by European culture
and traditions, especially British and French, and by its own
indigenous cultures. Most of Canada's territory was inhabited and
developed later than other European colonies in the Americas, with the
result that themes and symbols of pioneers, trappers, and traders were
important in the early development of the Canadian identity. First
Nations played a critical part in the development of European colonies
in Canada, particularly for their role in assisting exploration of the
continent during the North American fur trade. The British
conquest of New
France in the mid-1700s brought a large Francophone
population under British Imperial rule, creating a need for compromise
and accommodation. The new British rulers left alone much of the
religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking
habitants, guaranteeing through the
Quebec Act of 1774 the right of
the Canadiens to practise the Catholic faith and to use French civil
The Constitution Act of 1867 was designed to meet the growing calls of
Canadians for autonomy from British rule, while avoiding the overly
strong decentralization that contributed to the Civil War in the
United States. The compromises made by the Fathers of
Canadians on a path to bilingualism, and this in
turn contributed to an acceptance of diversity.
Canadian Forces and overall civilian participation in the First
World War and Second World War helped to foster Canadian
nationalism, however, in 1917 and 1944, conscription crisis'
highlighted the considerable rift along ethnic lines between
Anglophones and Francophones. As a result of the First and Second
World Wars, the Government of
Canada became more assertive and less
deferential to British authority. With the gradual loosening of
political ties to the
United Kingdom and the modernization of Canadian
immigration policies, 20th-century immigrants with African, Caribbean
and Asian nationalities have added to the
Canadian identity and its
culture. The multiple-origins immigration pattern continues today,
with the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non-British or
Canada was adopted as the official policy of the
government during the premiership of
Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s and
1980s. The Canadian government has often been described as the
instigator of multicultural ideology, because of its public emphasis
on the social importance of immigration.
administered by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and
reflected in the law through the Canadian
Multiculturalism Act and
section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Main article: Religion in Canada
Canada (2011 National Household Survey)
Other Christian (28.6%)
Other religions (0.6%)
Canada as a nation is religiously diverse, encompassing a wide range
of groups, beliefs and customs. The preamble to the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms references "God", and the monarch
carries the title of "Defender of the Faith". However,
no official religion, and support for religious pluralism (Freedom of
religion in Canada) is an important part of Canada's political
culture. With the role of
Christianity in decline, it having
once been central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life,
commentators have suggested that
Canada has come to enter a
post-Christian period in a secular state, with irreligion on
the rise. The majority of
Canadians consider religion to be
unimportant in their daily lives, but still believe in God. The
practice of religion is now generally considered a private matter
throughout society and within the state.
The 2011 Canadian census reported that 67.3% of
Canadians identify as
being Christians; of this number, Catholics make up the largest group,
accounting for 38.7 percent of the population. The largest
Protestant denomination is the United Church of
Canada (accounting for
6.1% of Canadians); followed by Anglicans (5.0%), and Baptists
(1.9%). About 23.9% of
Canadians declare no religious affiliation,
including agnostics, atheists, humanists, and other groups. The
remaining are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of
Islam (3.2%), followed by
Buddhism (1.1%), and
Before the arrival of European colonists and explorers, First Nations
followed a wide array of mostly animistic religions. During the
colonial period, the French settled along the shores of the Saint
Lawrence River, specifically
Latin Rite Roman Catholics, including a
number of Jesuits dedicated to converting indigenous peoples; an
effort that eventually proved successful. The first large
Protestant communities were formed in the
Maritimes after the British
conquest of New France, followed by American Protestant settlers
displaced by the American Revolution. The late nineteenth century
saw the beginning of a substantive shift in Canadian immigration
patterns. Large numbers of Irish and southern European immigrants were
creating new Roman Catholic communities in English Canada. The
settlement of the west brought significant
Eastern Orthodox immigrants
Eastern Europe and
Pentecostal immigrants from the
The earliest documentation of Jewish presence in
Canada occurs in the
1754 British Army records from the French and Indian War. In
Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst
Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst attacked and won
Montreal for the British. In his regiment there were several Jews,
including four among his officer corps, most notably Lieutenant Aaron
Hart who is considered the father of Canadian Jewry. The Islamic,
Jains, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities, although small, are as
old as the nation itself. The 1871 Canadian Census (first "Canadian"
national census) indicated thirteen Muslims among the populace,
with approximately 5000 Sikh by 1908. The first Canadian mosque
was constructed in Edmonton, in 1938, when there were approximately
700 Muslims in Canada.
Buddhism first arrived in
Japanese immigrated during the late 19th century. The first
Japanese Buddhist temple in
Canada was built in
1905. The influx of immigrants in the late 20th century, with Sri
Lankan, Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian customs, has contributed
to the recent expansion of the Jain, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist
Main article: Languages of Canada
Approximately 98% of
Canadians can speak English or French (2006)
English - 56.9%
English and French (Bilingual) - 16.1%
French - 21.3%
Sparsely populated area ( <' 0.4 persons per km2)
A multitude of languages are used by Canadians, with English and
French (the official languages) being the mother tongues of
approximately 56% and 21% of Canadians, respectively. As of the
2016 Census, just over 7.3 million
Canadians listed a
non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common
non-official first languages include Chinese (1,227,680 first-language
speakers), Punjabi (501,680), Spanish (458,850), Tagalog (431,385),
Arabic (419,895), German (384,040), and Italian (375,645). Less
than one percent of
Canadians (just over 250,000 individuals) can
speak an indigenous language. About half this number (129,865)
reported using an indigenous language on a daily basis.
Canadians speak several sign languages; the number of
speakers is unknown of the most spoken ones, American Sign Language
Quebec Sign Language (LSQ), as it is of Maritime Sign
Language and Plains Sign Talk. There are only 47 speakers of the
Inuit sign language Inuiuuk.
English and French are recognized by the Constitution of
official languages. All federal government laws are thus enacted
in both English and French, with government services available in both
languages. Two of Canada's territories give official status to
indigenous languages. In Nunavut,
Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun are
official languages alongside the national languages of English and
Inuktitut is a common vehicular language in territorial
government. In the Northwest Territories, the Official Languages
Act declares that there are eleven different languages: Chipewyan,
Cree, English, French, Gwich'in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun,
North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłįchǫ. Multicultural media are
widely accessible across the country and offer specialty television
channels, newspapers and other publications in many minority
In Canada, as elsewhere in the world of European colonies, the
frontier of European exploration and settlement tended to be a
linguistically diverse and fluid place, as cultures using different
languages met and interacted. The need for a common means of
communication between the indigenous inhabitants and new arrivals for
the purposes of trade, and (in some cases) intermarriage, led to the
development of Mixed languages. Languages like Michif, Chinook
Bungi creole tended to be highly localized and were often
spoken by only a small number of individuals who were frequently
capable of speaking another language. Plains Sign Talk, which
functioned originally as a trade language used to communicate
internationally and across linguistic borders, reached across Canada,
United States and into Mexico.
Demographics of Canada
List of Canadians
Persons of National Historic Significance
List of Prime Ministers of Canada
Canada – book
^ a b All citizens of
Canada are classified as "Canadians" as defined
by Canada's nationality laws. However, "Canadian" as an ethnic group
has since 1996 been added to census questionnaires for possible
ancestry. "Canadian" was included as an example on the English
questionnaire and "Canadien" as an example on the French
questionnaire. "The majority of respondents to this selection are from
the eastern part of the country that was first settled. Respondents
generally are visibly European (Anglophones and Francophones), however
no-longer self identify with their ethnic ancestral origins. This
response is attributed to a multitude or generational distance from
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