The Chinese people have already formed an integral part in the history of Canada. Not only are they the oldest non-European immigrants to the country, but they are also Canada’s largest non-Caucasian immigrants at present.
The very first Chinese who immigrated to Canada can be traced back two centuries ago, and that number has continued to grow over many decades.
Right now, there is an estimated 1.3 million Chinese residing in Canada as immigrants, and they have greatly influenced in shaping Canada’s way of life.
The country is expecting a continuous growth in the influx of Chinese immigrants to the country in the coming years, and this is bound to further enrich various facets of Canada’s culture.
Tracing Back the History of Chinese Immigration to Canada
The road that makes up the long history of the immigration of the Chinese people to Canada has been paved with significant rise and fall.
The past 200 years have witnessed the relationship between the two countries being established, strengthened, severed, mended… resulting in a rich relationship that has now grown so strong over the years.
Below are some significant events in the Chinese-Canada immigration history that are worth remembering:
1700s: This was the first recorded event of Chinese immigration to Canada, making the Chinese among the very first foreign individuals to settle in the country (specifically in the Western region). This was followed by a massive immigration during the Gold Rush – and many Chinese even accumulated significant wealth during this time.
Late 1800s: The Canadian Pacific Railway was built during this time, connecting Eastern and Western Canada. This project saw an influx of Chinese laborers to the country.
1885: Canada passed a Chinese Immigration Act that aimed at charging a ‘head tax’ to each Chinese entering the country, an act designed to prevent the entry of more Chinese in Canada.
1927: Another Chinese Immigration Act (commonly known the Chinese Exclusion Act) was passed to ban new Chinese immigration. Only very few selected Chinese were allowed to enter Canada, such as entrepreneurs and educators.
1947: The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed and Chinese were once again allowed to immigrate to Canada. Since then, the number of Chinese immigrants to the country has continued to grow.
2006: The Canadian government formally apologized to the Chinese for all the past decisions it made. All living Chinese that were affected by the ‘head tax’ received compensation from the Government of Canada.
Chinese Immigration to Canada: The Present Situation
China and Canada enjoy a healthy relationship at present. Chinese immigration is continuously increasing. In fact, China currently ranks as the second largest source of immigrants to Canada right now.
Canada welcomed more than 120,000 Chinese immigrants from the year 2006 to 2011, a 10% increase in the number of immigrants during the said period.
The number of Chinese immigrants to Canada has remarkably increased during the recent years. National census says that 1 out of 5 foreign-born Chinese in Canada right now has arrived in the past 5 years – that’s 20% of all foreign-born Chinese in Canada!
Of the Chinese-Canadians in Canada at present, only 2.3% are third generations – majority have come to Canada recently.
All Canadian provinces have residents of Chinese ancestry, the biggest number being in Toronto (40% of Chinese immigrants in Canada) and Vancouver (31%). These, together with other cities, already have a Chinatown and an active Chinese community.
With the great number of Chinese-speaking immigrants in Canada (pegged at around 1 million), Chinese is now the most commonly spoken language next to English and French.
The Chinese are now intricately integrated in the Canadian way of life. There are many Chinese Canadians who hold prominent public occupations.
Second generation Chinese Canadians also excel in white-collar jobs (professional and managerial) – their number is higher compared to other immigrant populations and even the Canadian population!
The Chinese community has also long gained respect from both the Canadian government and other immigrant communities in Canada. With the continuous rise of the number of Chinese immigrants to Canada, the country is expecting an even more improved economy and a richer culture.