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Chinese Canadian

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Title: Chinese Canadian  
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Subject: Asian Canadian, Singaporeans in Canada, Demographics of Canada, Vancouver, Demographics of Ontario
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Chinese Canadian

Canadians of Chinese Origin
加拿大华人 or 加拿大華人
Total population
3.9% of the Canadian population (only of Chinese ethnicity) (2011) and 1,487,000 (this number includes individuals with Chinese ancestry, who were also mixed with some other ethnic group(s) and/or race(s)) (2011) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec

English, French

Cantonese, Mandarin, Min Chinese, Hakka
various other Chinese dialects
Mahayana Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism
Taoism, Confucianism, Atheism, Agnosticism[2]
Related ethnic groups
Hong Kong Canadians, Taiwanese Canadians
Overseas Chinese

Chinese Canadians (simplified Chinese: 加拿大华人; traditional Chinese: 加拿大華人; pinyin: Jiānádà Huárén; Jyutping: gaa1 naa4 daai6 waa4 jan4) are people of full or partial Chinese – particularly Han Chinese – ancestry who hold Canadian nationality.[3][4][5] They constitute the second-largest visible minority group in Canada, after South Asian Canadians. They comprise a subgroup of East Asian Canadians which is a further subgroup of Asian Canadians. The Chinese community in Canada is the one of the largest overseas Chinese communities and is the second largest Overseas Chinese community in North America after the United States. It is also the seventh largest in the Chinese diaspora. Overall demographic research tends to include immigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau as well as overseas Chinese who have immigrated from South East Asia and South America into the broadly defined Chinese Canadian category as StatsCan refers Taiwanese Canadians as a separate group apart from Chinese Canadians.[6]

Canadians of Chinese descent, including mixed Chinese and other ethnic origins, make up about four percent of the Canadian population, or about 1.3 million people as of 2006.[6] The Chinese Canadian community is the largest ethnic group of Asian Canadians, consisting approximately 40% of the Asian Canadian population. Most of them are concentrated within the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The five metropolitan areas with the largest Chinese Canadian populations are the Greater Toronto Area (537,060), Metro Vancouver (402,000), Greater Montreal (120,000), Calgary Region (75,410), and the Edmonton Capital Region (53,670).[7]


19th Century

Chinese labourers working on the Canadian Pacific Railway

The first record of Chinese in what is known as Canada today can be dated back to 1788. The renegade British Captain John Meares hired a group of roughly 70 Chinese carpenters from Macau and employed them to build a ship the North West America, at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, then an increasingly important but disputed European outpost on the Pacific coast which after Spanish seizure, was abandoned by Mears, leaving the eventual whereabouts of the carpenters largely unknown.

Chinese railway workers made up the labour force for construction of two one-hundred mile sections of the Canadian Pacific Railway from the Pacific to Craigellachie in the Eagle Pass in British Columbia. The railway as a whole consisted of 28 such sections, 93% of which were constructed by workers of European origin. When British Columbia agreed to join Confederation in 1871, one of the conditions was that the Dominion government build a railway linking B.C. with eastern Canada within 10 years. British Columbia politicians and their electorate agitated for an immigration program from the British Isles to provide this railway labour, but Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, betraying the wishes of his constituency, Victoria, by insisting the project cut costs by employing Chinese to build the railway, and summarized the situation this way to Parliament in 1882: "It is simply a question of alternatives: either you must have this labour or you can't have the railway."[8] (British Columbia politicians had wanted a settlement-immigration plan for workers from the British Isles, but Canadian politicians and investors said it would be too expensive).

Many workers from Guangdong Province arrived to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th century as did Chinese veterans of the gold rushes. These workers accepted the terms offered by the Chinese labour contractors who were engaged by the railway construction company to hire them — low pay, long hours, lower wages than non-Chinese workers and dangerous working conditions, in order to support their families that stayed in China. Their willingness to endure hardship for low wages enraged fellow non-Chinese workers who thought they were unnecessarily complicating the labour market situations. From the passage of the Chinese Immigration Act in 1885, the Canadian government began to charge a substantial head tax for each Chinese person trying to immigrate to Canada. The Chinese were the only ethnic group that had to pay such a tax.

20th Century

Chinese Canadians in Toronto's High Park, 1919
Chinese man picking watercress in Toronto's High Park, 1920
Chinese-Canadian soldiers from Vancouver serving in the Second World War
Lila Gee, playground monitor, with Chinese children playing basketball at McLean Park in Vancouver, 1951
World War II veteran George Chow

In 1923, the federal Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King banned Chinese immigration with the passage of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, although numerous exemptions for businessmen, clergy, students and others did not end immigration entirely.[9] With this act, the Chinese received similar legal treatment to blacks before them who Canada also had specifically excluded from immigration on the basis of race. (This was formalised in 1911 by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier who in Sub-section (c) of Section 38 of the Immigration Act called blacks "unsuitable" for Canada.) During the next 25 years, more and more laws against the Chinese were passed. Most jobs were closed to Chinese men and women. Many Chinese opened their own restaurants and laundry businesses. In British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, Chinese employers were not allowed to hire white females, so most Chinese businesses became Chinese-only.[10]

Some of those Chinese Canadian workers settled in Canada after the railway was constructed. Most could not bring the rest of their families, including immediate relatives, due to government restrictions and enormous processing fees. They established Head tax, the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper announced as part of their pre-election campaign, an official apology. On June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a message of redress in the House of Commons, calling it a "grave injustice". Some educated Chinese arrived in Canada during the war as refugees. Since the mid-20th century, most new Chinese Canadians come from university-educated families, one of whose most essential values is still quality education. These newcomers are a major part of the "Brain gain" the inverse of the infamous "Brain drain", i.e., Canadians leaving to the United States of which Chinese have also been a part.

From 1947 to the early 1970s, Chinese immigrants to Canada came mostly from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Southeast Asia. Chinese from the mainland who were eligible in the family reunification program had to visit the Canadian High Commission in Hong Kong, since Canada and the PRC did not have diplomatic relations until 1970. From the late 1980s, an influx of Taiwanese people immigrated to Canada forming a group of Taiwanese Canadians. The settled in areas such as Vancouver, British Columbia and to the adjacent cities of Burnaby, Richmond and Coquitlam. There was a significant influx of wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs from Hong Kong in the early and mid-1990s before the handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China (PRC). Canada was a preferred location, in part because investment visas were significantly easier to obtain than visas to the United States. Vancouver, Richmond and Toronto were the major destinations of these Chinese. During those years, immigrants from Hong Kong alone made up to 46% of all Chinese immigrants to Canada. After 1997, a significant portion of Chinese immigrants chose to move back to Hong Kong, some of a more permanent nature, after the dust of the handover was settled and fears of a "Communist takeover" turned out to be unnecessary.

21st Century

Canada Day celebrations in Toronto, organized by the National Congress of Chinese Canadians

In the 21st century, Chinese immigration from Hong Kong has dropped sharply and the largest source of Chinese immigration is from the mainland China. A smaller number have arrived from Taiwan and very small numbers from Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Zealand.[12] Today, mainland China has taken over from Hong Kong and Taiwan as the largest source of Chinese immigration. The PRC has also taken over from all countries and regions as the country sending the most immigrants to Canada. According to the 2002 statistics from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the PRC has supplied the biggest number of Canadian immigrants since 2000, averaging well over 30,000 immigrants per year, totalling an average of 15% of all immigrants to Canada. This trend shows no sign of slowing down, with an all-time high of more than 40,000 reached in 2005.[13] On June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a message of redress in the House of Commons, offering an apology in Cantonese and compensation for the head tax once paid by Chinese immigrants. Survivors or their spouses will be paid approximately $20,000 CAD in compensation.[14][15][16]

In December 2008, the Philippines passed China as Canada's leading source of immigrants.[17] In 2010, when Mainland China became the second largest economy in the world after the United States, its economic growth sparked even greater immigration opportunities to mainland Chinese. A 2011 survey shown that 60% of Chinese millionaires plan to immigrate, where 37% of the respondents wanted to immigrate to Canada. Many foreign countries such as Canada hold very large attraction for rich Chinese, because of their better social welfare system, higher quality of education and a greater opportunity for investment. The main reasons Chinese businesspeople want to move abroad was for some educational opportunities for their children, advanced medical treatment, worsening pollution back home (especially urban air quality) and food safety concerns.[18][19] The Canadian Federal Investor Immigrant Program (FIIP) as a cash-for-visa scheme allows many powerful Chinese to seek for a Canadian citizenship, and recent reports show that 697 of the 700 (99.6%) of the applicants to this visa in 2011 were mainland Chinese.[20] However, Canada— along with other English-speaking countries such as the United States and Australia— has increased its immigration requirements, forcing Chinese millionaires to seek permanent residency elsewhere.[21][22][23]


Historical Population

Chinese population by year[24][25]
Year % of Canadian
1871 0.0
1881 0.0
1891 0.2
1901 0.3
1911 0.4
1921 0.4
1931 0.4
1941 0.3
1951 0.2
1961 0.3
1971 0.6
1981 1.2
1991 2.3
2001 3.5
2006 4.3
2011 4.5

Population Statistics

In 2001, 25% of Chinese in Canada were Canadian-born.[26] During the same year, the Chinese population stood at 1,094,700 accounted for 3.5% of Canada’s total population. By 2006 the population stood at 1,346,510 comprising 4.3% of the Canadian population.[6] StatsCan projects by 2031, the Chinese Canadian population is projected to reach between 2.4 to 3.0 million, constituting approximately 6 percent of the Canadian population. Much of the growth will be bolstered by sustained immigration as well as creating a younger age structure.[27][28][29]

During the 2011 census in Canada, it was estimated that 1,324,700 individuals of pure Chinese origin resided in Canada. This number increased to 1,487,000 individuals, when including those of both pure Chinese origin and people of partial Chinese ancestry (meaning, individuals with both Chinese and some other racial and ethnic origin) during the 2011 census in Canada.[1]

Most of the Chinese Canadian community is concentrated within the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. The five metropolitan areas with the largest Chinese Canadian populations are the Greater Toronto Area (537,060), Metro Vancouver (402,000), Greater Montreal (120,000),[30] Calgary Region (75,410), and the Edmonton Capital Region (53,670). The Chinese are the largest visible minority group in Alberta and British Columbia, and are the second largest in Ontario.[26] The highest concentration of Chinese Canadians is in Vancouver, where one in five residents are Chinese.[31][32]

The province of Saskatchewan has a growing Chinese community, at over one percent as of 2006, mainly in the city of Saskatoon (2.1%), the province's largest city, and to a lesser extent, Regina (1.9%), the capital of the province. The Riversdale neighborhood of Saskatoon has a historical Chinese settlement dating back to the early 1900s, where Chinese immigrants were employed by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and established businesses within this district. Riversdale is currently home to many Chinese restaurants and stores.[33] Chinese are the largest visible minority group in Saskatchewan.[34]

The Chinese Canadian Population according to Statistics Canada in the 2011 census in the 10 Canadian Provinces and 3 territories:[35][36]

Chinese population in the Canadian regions[35]
Province Chinese Population Percentage
of Chinese
 Ontario 713,245 5.6%
 British Columbia 464,800 10.7%
 Alberta 155,965 4.4%
 Quebec 101,880 1.3%
 Manitoba 22,600 1.9%
 Saskatchewan 13,990 1.4%
 Nova Scotia 7,065 0.8%
 New Brunswick 2,945 0.4%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 1,970 0.4%
 Prince Edward Island 1,915 1.4%
 Yukon 600 1.8%
 Northwest Territories 515 1.3%
 Nunavut 95 0.3%
 Canada 1,487,580 4.5%
Canadian metropolitan areas with large Chinese populations:
City Province Chinese Percentage
Toronto Ontario 531,635 9.6%
Vancouver British Columbia 411,470 18.0%
Montreal Quebec 91,785 2.4%
Calgary Alberta 75,470 6.3%
Edmonton Alberta 60,715 5.3%
Ottawa Ontario 42,740 3.5%
Winnipeg Manitoba 20,410 2.9%
Hamilton Ontario 14,785 2.1%
Victoria British Columbia 14,460 4.3%
Kitchener Ontario 14,125 3.0%

List of Canadian census subdivisions with Chinese populations higher than the national average

Source: Canada 2011 Census[37]
National average: 4.5%


British Columbia




In 2001, 87% of Chinese reported having a conversational knowledge of at least one official language, while 15% reported that they could speak neither English nor French. Of those who could not speak an official language, 50% immigrated to Canada in the 1990s, while 22% immigrated in the 1980s. These immigrants tended to be in the older age groups. Of prime working-age Chinese immigrants, 89% reported knowing at least one official language.[26]

In 2001, collectively, Chinese languages are the third-most common reported mother tongue, after English and French. 3% of the Canadian population, or 872,000 people, reported the Chinese language as their mother tongue — the language that they learned as a child and still understand. The most common Chinese mother tongue is Cantonese. Of these people, 44% were born in Hong Kong, 27% were born in Guangdong Province in China, and 18% were Canadian-born. The second-most common reported Chinese mother tongue was Mandarin. Of these people, 85% were born in either Mainland China or Taiwan, 7% were Canadian-born, and 2% were born in Malaysia. There is some evidence that fewer young Chinese-Canadians are speaking their parents' and grandparents' first language.

However, only about 790,500 people reported speaking a Chinese language at home on a regular basis, 81,900 fewer than those who reported having a Chinese mother tongue. This suggests some language loss has occurred, mainly among the Canadian-born who learned Chinese as a child, but who may not speak it regularly or do not use it as their main language at home.[26]


As of 2001, almost 75% of the Chinese population in Canada lived in either Toronto or Vancouver. The Chinese population was 17% in Vancouver and 9% in Toronto.[26] More than 50% of the Chinese immigrants who just arrived in 2000/2001 reported that their reason for settling in a given region was because their family and friends already lived there.

The economic growth of mainland China since 2000 has sparked even greater emigration opportunities for mainland Chinese. A 2011 survey showed that 60% of Chinese millionaires planned to emigrate, where 37% of the respondents wanted to emigrate to Canada.[38] The main reasons Chinese businesspeople wanted to move abroad was for greater educational opportunities for their children, advanced medical treatment, worsening pollution back home (especially urban air quality) and food safety concerns.[18][19][39] The Canadian Immigrant Investor Program (CANIIP) allows many powerful Chinese to qualify for Canadian citizenship: among the 700 applicants to this program in 2011, 697 (99.6%) were mainland Chinese.[20]



In a 2010 MacLean's Report citing that many Canadian Universities have simply become "Too Asian" citing

In educational attainment, Chinese Canadians have benefited from the selected immigration process, Chinese cultural heritage, and a strong motivation for success typical of immigrant families. Canadian immigration policies provide preference for those with higher education and desirable job skills, leading to a better educated foreign-born population. Most Chinese immigrants, place their best hope of upward mobility on the education of their children.[41][42]

Chinese Canadians make up upwards of 25% of graduates of some of the largest universities in Canada. For instance, at the University of British Columbia, Canadians of Chinese origin account for 40% of the undergraduate student body as of 2010, over four times the proportion of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia (10.6%).[43][44][45] Terms such as the "University of a Billion Chinese" as the University of British Columbia was sometimes deemed due to large amount of Chinese-Canadians enrolling. This was propelled by the large immigration from Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese immigrants during the 1980s and the 1990s that brought with them a strong ethic that made it harder for the less competitive to enroll.[46]

The Chinese historically had a high respect for formal education. Educational attainment is frequently viewed as the most important means of upward social mobility and labour market success. Many immigrant groups have a long tradition of turning to education as the mechanism best suited to promoting success for their children. Many scholars believe that the educational systems of East-Asian countries have contributed to the rapid economic growth in that part of the world. In particular, cultural values, beliefs and attitudes towards education play an important role in students' educational performance. These can be summarized in three aspects: (1) academic achievement as the central goal of Chinese education, (2) group orientation towards learning and (3) parents' and teachers' high expectations of the child, with emphasis on the child's personal efforts. Today, English language education continues to play a major role in Chinese Canadian families, and the result has been an influx into many white collar professions, including finance, investment banking, business administration, engineering, sciences, research, medicine, pharmacy, law and higher education. The emphasis on education is a long-standing feature of Chinese life as a result of the Confucian tradition of learning and scholarship. The Chinese language is still considered a significant part of education, especially with the growing economic prominence of China.[47][48] Reflecting the high value traditionally put on education by Chinese culture and education as the top priority for Chinese immigrant parents and with academic achievement is viewed as one of greatest hallmarks of Chinese civilization. When it comes to applying for universities, brand name consciousness is prevalent in the Chinese community, many Chinese-Canadians prefer to enroll in four-year higher educational institutions than community colleges and technical institutes and are also more likely to apply to more competitively elite higher education research institutions such as McGill, University of Toronto, Queen's University, University of Western Ontario, and the University of British Columbia.[49][50] At the University of British Columbia, Chinese international students and Chinese Canadians alone make up 36 percent of the undergraduates as of 2013. Chinese International Students make up 28% of UBC's international undergraduate enrollment pool.[51]

China is the top source country for students studying in Canada with almost 50,000 Chinese students residing in Canada in 2009.[52] The Ministry of Education of The People’s Republic of China recently released statistics that shows a record 1.27 million Chinese students were studying abroad in 2010. Of the 1.27 million international students studying, Canada is one of the top destinations for studying abroad.[53] Educational experts pinpoint the ever growing demand of higher education to China’s booming economy, as the catalyst for middle-class families sending their children overseas to study.[54] Many Chinese students enroll in four-year higher educational institutions, community colleges, technical institutes and polytechnics.[55] Canadian educational experts hope that international Chinese students contribute to Canada's social and economic fabric as well as both financially and culturally to the communities and institutions where the students study.[52]

According to a SSTA Research Center Report conducted by Naijian Chen, there are three times as many Chinese-Canadians in Calgary had obtained university degrees than would be expected from their total number in the population. Chen also stated that most Chinese-Canadian graduates of the University of Calgary had majored in engineering, physics, and the life sciences. Chen cites this as the children of minority immigrants tend to align their career aspirations to demands of the Canadian labour market and their visible minority status. To avoid competing with the Canadian mainstream society, 2nd generation Chinese Canadian children of immigrants are encouraged to excel in math and science subjects so as to take up professions in finance, business administration, engineering, medicine, computer science, mathematics and other technical fields.[56] Canadians of Chinese origin are more likely to have a post-graduate degree than other Canadians. In 2001, adults of Chinese origin made up 3% of the overall Canadian population, but represented 9% of all those with a Doctorate and 7% of those with a Master’s degree. Canadians of Chinese origin also represent a high proportion of those with degrees in highly technical fields. In the same year, Chinese Canadians made up 6% of all university graduates in Canada, while they represented 12% of those with degrees in mathematics, physics or computer science, and 11% of those in engineering or applied science.[57]

In 2002, the Ethnic Diversity Survey Study conducted by the University of Alberta, cited that 59.4% of Chinese Canadians completed a bachelor's degree compared with 37.6% for the general Canadian population conducted among the various ethnic groups in the study.[58] In 2006, second-generation Chinese Canadians as a group were more educated than other ethnic groups in Canada as 60.3 per cent of them possessed a university certificate, the second highest after Korean Canadians. 44.7% of second-generation Chinese Canadians between the ages of 25-44 completed a bachelors degree which was the highest among all ethnic groups. This is compared with 32.6% for visible minorities and 21.5% of all non-visible minorities. 15.6% of adult Chinese Canadians possessed a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, compared to 9.5% of non-visible minorities and was the third highest after Arab and South Asian Canadians.[49] In 2006, 87.56% second generation Chinese Canadians living in Ontario had some form of post-secondary education compared with 72.51% for all children of immigrant parents among various ethnic groups conducted in the study. 69.16% of second generation Chinese Canadians living in Ontario possessed a bachelors degree compared with 37.05% for all children of immigrant parents among various visible minority ethnic groups.[59] In 2008, 99.2 percent of second generation Chinese Canadians finished high school compared with 94.3% of all groups of children of immigrants and 88.4% children of Canadian-born parents, where it remained the highest for any ethnic group in Canada. In addition, 69.5% of second generation Chinese Canadians attained a bachelors degree. This is compared with 37.6% of all groups of children of immigrants and 27.5% children of Canadian-born parents, where it again remained the highest for any ethnic group in Canada.[60][61][62][63][64]

A number of Chinese-Canadians have immigrated to the United States or work as expatriate white collar professionals or entrepreneurs. In the early 20th century, many Canadian-born emigrants moved to the United States and many professionals that include business managers, doctors, engineers, and scientists have moved abroad to seek better monetary compensation as (TN visas and others) which require high educational levels to gain entry into the United States. For instance, Canadian immigrants with scientific and engineering degrees are more highly compensated for the flow of similar talent to the United States. Though they relatively represent a small portion of human capital, in some Canadian industries such as entertainment, the arts, and fundamental research, Canadians were thwarted professionally which hindered themselves from achieving excellence due to the small Canadian market. Prominent examples include the French-Canadian singer, Celine Dion and Canadian economist Robert Mundell, who both achieved greater professional success in their respective fields in the United States than they did back in Canada.[65][66] While 55% of Canadians in the United States have achieved a bachelors degree, 72% of Chinese Canadians living in the United States have. 35.9% of Chinese-Canadians living the United States hold a masters, professional or doctorate degree compared with 26.1% for Indo-Canadians and 14.9% for all Canadians living the U.S. as a whole.[65][66]


Next to India and the Philippines, China provides one of the largest sources of foreign trained accountants to Canada.[67] Chinese Canadians moved farther afield specializing in traditional Mercurian occupations that range from entertainment to medicine during their early arrivals in the 19th and 20th centuries. At the turn of the 21st century, Chinese Canadians could be found in many occupations, including those of television reporters, jazz musicians, classical dancers, novelists, police officers and politicians, as well as in traditional white collar careers such as post-secondary educators, engineers, scientists, investment bankers or medical doctors.[68] Though most Chinese Canadians work in many occupations, most Chinese Canadians work as white collar professionals, many of whom are highly educated as the Confucian paradigm of higher education served as the most important path for upward social mobility in China.[69][70] Due to sociocultural traditions and differences towards career selection, Chinese Canadians are less likely to work in blue collar occupations than the general Canadian population.[71][72][73] They often take up higher ranking jobs requiring university as higher education often serves as a gateway towards a higher income, more job security and benefits, ease for promotion and advancement, a counter towards discrimination and workplace bullying in the Canadian workforce, and a higher quality of well being and standard of living than the population average even though the wages of some high-end blue collar occupations surpass some white collar occupations due to ever changing job market conditions and forces in the Canadian labour market.[74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81] Among second-generation Canadians between the ages of 20 and 29, 34% of Canadians of Chinese descent worked in professional and managerial specialties (upper middle class white collar professions those requiring a university degree) compared with 24% for all non-visible minorities and 15.2% for all Canadians; [69][82] Though Chinese Canadians are more likely than other Canadians to be in the white-collar workforce, 33% of Chinese Canadians are in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics compared with 13.5% for all Canadians (the only other group in Canada with a similar trend in the fields are the South Asians/Indian Canadians). To avoid cutthroat job seeking competition with the Canadian mainstream, the Chinese Canadian middle class is more likely to be employed in technical occupations, primarily in fields involving the heavy utilization of the natural sciences and mathematics.[83] The most frequent occupations reported by Chinese-Canadians more than 16 years of age and in the Canadian labour force, are listed in order of decreasing frequency include computer software engineers, computer scientists and systems analysts, medical doctors and scientists, electrical and electronics engineers, physical scientists and mathematicians, accountants and auditors, post-secondary instructors, and financial managers.[65][66]

T & T Supermarket is a Canadian supermarket chain which sells primarily Chinese and Asian foods. The founder and former CEO, Cindy Lee is a Taiwanese-born Canadian who started the business with one store.

Many Chinese Canadians are also self-employed and own small businesses. In fact, Chinese immigrant entrepreneurship has been rising in Canada since 1980. Chinese immigrants have been found to have a higher rate of self-employment than other immigrant groups. The proportion of self-employed among all foreign-born Chinese Canadians increased from 3.6 percent in 1981 to 7.4 percent in 1996. Many Chinese immigrant businesspeople are directly involved with the transnational economic activities that require frequent travel. As innovators and thinkers, Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs seize opportunities for purposive intervention by maneuvering back and forth between different social networks as well as cultural or social-psychological settings, two societies, the social, cultural, and geographical proximity between North America and China create opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs to identify market niches, to manipulate structural holes, and to act as brokers.[84] Canadians of Chinese origin are also about as likely as those in the overall workforce to be self-employed with an incorporated business. In 2001, Canadian people of Chinese origin, who represented 3% of the total Canadian workforce, but made up 4% of self-employed people who owned an incorporated business.[85] Chinese Canadians have owned laundromats, restaurants, and small retail enterprises. They are also involved in the accodomation and food services, retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate, and business management. Canada's growing middle class has created a sustained demand for professional services and quality products from Chinese business professionals and entrepreneurs.[83] Various business enterprises such as the Richmond Night Market, Concord Pacific Developments, Electronic Arts, Harmony Airways, Kiip, Club Monaco, Talentvision, London Drugs, Fairchild Group, The Epoch Times, Cathay International Television, Ming Pao Daily, T & T Supermarket, and Fairchild TV were led and established by Chinese Canadians.

The Asian food court inside Yaohan Centre, Richmond, British Columbia shows that restaurants are common business establishments among Chinese Canadians

Between 1987 and 1990, immigrants from Hong Kong bought an estimated 14.3 billion HK$ to Canada and created 48,000 jobs.[86] The business-immigrant program has facilitated the development of capital-intensive Chinese businesses in Canada. Investor immigrants from Hong-Kong have a strong inclination to invest in British Columbia. Their investments amounted to $343 million, or 46 percent of the total. The invested capital by Chinese business immigrants and offshore corporations has stimulated the growth of large scale, capital-intensive ethnic enterprises in Canada. At times, the distinction between so-called ethnic businesses and offshore investments is unclear, since many investors maintain residence in both Canada and their country of origin, and corporations with headquarters in Asian countries operate through branches in Canada. Furthermore, business immigrant capital sometimes joins forces with offshore capital through investment syndicates, as, for example, in the joint venture of President Asian Enterprises of Taiwan with President Canada Syndicated Incorporated, a Vancouver-based company that employs immigrant investor funds, in the development of a large shopping and hotel complex in Richmond. Another example is Pacific Place Development on the eighty-hectare former Expo 86 site in Vancouver; the project is controlled by Concord Property and Finance Group of Vancouver, whose chairman is Victor Li,[87] a key investor in Air Canada,[88] a Hong Kong immigrant and a naturalized Canadian citizen and the son of a Hong Kong-Canadian billionaire, Li Ka-Shing[41] a major investor in Canada who bought Husky Oil and Gas in Alberta in 1987 and began development of Pacific Place in Vancouver in 1988. Extensive Hong Kong investments reinvigorated the economy and introduced a unique pattern of commercial values and business ethics founded on the traditional Confucian paradigm of interpersonal relationships. According to the 2009 Canadian Business, Canadian business mogul and the head of London Drugs, Brandt C. Louie was one of the 50 wealthiest Canadians.[89] According to the Canadian Business ranking of the 100 richest Canadians (2009), 6 Chinese Canadians made the list, of the wealthiest Chinese Canadians are investor Michael Lee-Chin, London Drugs CEO Brandt C. Louie, telecommunications magnate Richard Li, real estate developers Tom and Caleb Chan, and Victor Li.[90]

Canadians of Chinese origin disproportionately make up a high proportion of all Canadians employed in scientific and technical occupations. In 2001, people who reported Chinese origins made up 3% of all workers, while they represented 7% of people employed in the natural and applied sciences despite comprising 3.7% of the overall Canadian population at the time. Canadians of Chinese origin also represent a relatively moderately higher proportion of those employed in business, financial and administrative positions, as well as in manufacturing.[91] Canadians of Chinese origin in the Ontario area had an overall unemployment rate in 4.86%, a figure lower than the provincial average of 5.7% and 5.91% for Canadian-born children.[92] At the University of British Columbia, Canadians of Chinese origin make upwards 15.4% of the faculty and staff, almost four times the proportion of Chinese Canadians in Canada (4.3%) as of 2010.[44]


The potential monthly demand for ethno-cultural vegetables is estimated to be $21 million for the Chinese Canadian community where the vegetables in high demand are Bok Choy, Bamboo shoots, fuzzy melon, Chinese Broccoli and Eggplant. 38.95% of the Chinese community dedicated more of their food budget on vegetables than South Asian and Black Canadians. The Chinese community spent the most on Chinese Greens as they tend to be more expensive and used in higher quantities which accounts for the higher amount spent on them.[93]

Out of the ten visible minority subgroups, Chinese Canadians have the second highest average income for full-time, annual employment in 2000.[94] However, overall earnings were below those of the Canadian non-visible minority. With an average income of $40,817, their earnings were equivalent to 93% of the non-visible minority earnings.[94] Pearson Sociology cites that among all ethnic groups in Canada, Chinese Canadians have the highest average incomes fourth behind Japanese, English, and French Canadians.[95] In a 2006 study carried out by the Higher Education Quality Council of Market of Ontario cited that the average employment Income among second generation Chinese-Canadians living in Ontario was $45,293 CAD compared to the national average of $40,099 for the children of all immigrant parents. Chinese Canadian men had an average income of $48,519, the second highest next to Croatian Canadians while Chinese Canadian women earned an average of $43,198 annually where they had the of the highest average employment incomes among Canadian ethnic minorities.[92] Chinese Canadians also wield significant purchasing power than other ethnic groups in Canada. Income comparisons show that 48% of Chinese Canadians have investible assets of $50,000 or more compared to 36% of general Canadian population.[96]

Many Chinese-Canadian families still share certain distinctive socioeconomic characteristics, as they tend to be middle or upper middle class though first-generation immigrants may generally experience great poverty.[97] With their high educational attainment rates and large presence in many white collar professions, Chinese Canadians tend to have a higher average and median income than most Canadians. As a visible minority group, they tend to be more economically prosperous than other communities overall. The 2007 Canadian Chinese Media Monitor report released on behalf of Fairchild TV in the Metropolitan Toronto area shows that 68% of Chinese Canadian families have an annual household income over $45,000 CAD with 27% of Chinese Canadian families reporting a household income of over $100,000 CAD. 14% of Chinese Canadian families have household income of less than $25,000 CAD annually.[98] In the same study done for Chinese Canadian families living in the Metro Vancouver area shows that 57% of Chinese Canadian families have an annual household income over $45,000 CAD with 17% of Chinese Canadian families in Metro Vancouver area reporting a household income of over $100,000. 21% of Chinese Canadian families have household income of less than $25,000 CAD annually.[99] Therefore on average, 22% of Chinese Canadian households earn more than $100,000 CAD annually which equaled the national average in median household income according to StatsCan but is 7.3% higher than the national average according to a University of Alberta study.[100][101]

Though visible minority groups are less likely than whites to own their home, the only visible minority ethnic groups in Canada with statistically significant home ownership rates above White Canadians and other minorities are Chinese and Japanese, and this holds for both immigrants and the Canadian-born.[102] Recent Chinese immigrants, rather than climbing socioeconomic ladders over time, may have achieved a socioeconomic status comparable to that of native-born whites soon after arrival, as measured by their home-ownership rates and above average household income. Chinese home-ownership rates adjusted by socioeconomic and housing market characteristics are on average are consistently 18 percentage points higher than those of native White Canadian households. since Chinese households are more educated and possess higher household incomes, they are much more likely to own homes than White and Asian Canadians as a whole.[103] In 1990 the Chinese-Canadian home ownership rate was 56.5% exceeded mostly Greek, Italian, German, and British Canadians and a Canadian immigrant national average of 67.9%.[104][105] In 1996, 73.2% of Chinese Canadians owned a home compared with 63.7% of the Canadian national average and was the highest among all ethnic groups in Canada during that year.[106] By 2001 the rate had reached 75% where it was once again the highest among all ethnic groups in Canada and was 12 percent higher than the national average.[107] Since 2001, the rate of Chinese Canadian home-ownership remained stagnant at 78%, compared to a national average of 68.4%.[108][109] Chinese Canadians tend to follow the residence pattern set by other Canadians. Members of the community believe in the symbolic importance of owning homes; accordingly, Chinese Canadians tend to save money and make other monetary sacrifices earlier on in order to purchase their own homes as soon as possible.

Though income distribution isn't dramatically polarised but there remains an inextricable correlation between personal income and educational achievement. In 2000, the median personal income for Chinese Canadians living in the United States was $50,000 USD with an aritmetic mean of $56,695 and a frequency percentage of 25% of Chinese-Canadians earning more than $100,000 USD annually. Overall reported incomes of the Canadian-born residents in the United States are heavily skewed to the left, with the vast majority reporting incomes lower than US$60,000. This is strong evidence of negative sorting, although the existence of a relatively large number of Canadian-born residents in the United States earning in excess of US$150,000 raises the mean value of the earnings for the entire group.[65][66]


Religion of Chinese Canadians (2001 census)[110]

  Buddhism (14%)
  Catholic Church (14%)
  Protestantism (9%)
  Other (7%)
  Not declared (56%)
Cham Shan Temple is a Chinese temple located in Markham, north of Toronto

Generational differences are also evident regarding religious practice and affiliation within this population group. Among Toronto’s early Chinese immigrants especially, the church body was an important structure serving as a meeting place, hall and leisure club. Even today, over 30 churches in Toronto continue to hold Chinese congregations. Religiously, the Chinese Canadian community is different from the rest of the population in that the majority of Chinese Canadians do not report a religious affiliation, although, according to a demographic analysis in the year 2010, 672,000 Chinese Canadians (slightly more than half) practice the Chinese folk religion.[111]

In 2001, 56% of Chinese Canadians aged 15 and over said that they did not have any religious affiliation, compared with the national average of 17%. As a result, Chinese Canadians make up 13% of all Canadians who did not report a religious affiliation despite making 4% of the population. Among Chinese Canadians, 14% were Buddhist, 14% were Catholic and 9% belonged to a Protestant denomination.[110]


The Fairchild Group is one of the largest Chinese-Canadian business conglomerates. It operates the Fairchild TV and Talentvision subsidiaries.

Canadians of Chinese origin have established a presence in the Canadian media scene spearheading several Chinese language media outlets in Canada.

A number of daily and weekly Chinese newspapers are printed and distributed throughout Canada. Ming Pao Daily News owned by the Ming Pao Group is a similar paper but has a pro-China view and challenges the Sing Tao Daily and the World Journal in the Chinese news media market in Canada.

Cultural adjustment


According to the Canadian Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted in 2002 show that 76 percent of Canadians of Chinese origin said they had a strong sense of belonging to Canada. At the same time, 58% said that they had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group. Canadians of Chinese origin are also active in Canadian society. During the same year, 64 percent of Chinese Canadians who were eligible to vote reported doing so in the 2000 federal election, while 60 percent said they voted in the 1996 provincial election. At the same time, about 35 percent reported that they had participated in an organization such as a sports team or community association in the 12 months preceding the survey. Concurrently, though, over one in three over (34%) Canadians of Chinese origin reported that they had experienced discrimination, prejudice, or unfair treatment based on their ethnicity, race, religion, language or accent in the past five years, or since they came to Canada. A majority of those who had experienced discrimination said that they felt it was based on their race or skin colour, while 42 percent said that the discrimination took place at work or when applying for a job or promotion.[112]

The majority of Canadian-born Chinese during the 1970s and 1980s were descended from immigrants of Hong Kong and Southern China, and more recently from mainland Chinese immigrants. Canadian-born Chinese, also known as Chinese-Canadians identify themselves as primarily Canadian, primarily Chinese, or a combination of the both. In Canada, strong feelings of ethnic heritage is bolstered by the clustering of Chinese communities in large urban centers like Toronto and Vancouver, as many Chinese-Canadians associate nearly exclusively with their ethnic compatriots. However, many Chinese-Canadians also choose to seek associates outside the Chinese community, toward more multicultural groups of friends and associates. Culturally, many Chinese-born Canadians are brought up with a more Confucianist-style upbringing, emphasizing filial piety, emphasis on education and academic achievement, strong family values, self-reliance (such as the importance of savings and investing), taking care of the parents when they're old and other "traditional Chinese values".[113][114] High educational expectations as a cultural phenomenon and the essence of Confucian philosophy. With this cultural pride, they frequently referred to classical Confucian tenets to justify their parenting beliefs and practice. High Chinese parental expectations and children striving for excellence are not only individually and psychologically driven, but largely a collective function of their family, community, and society at large.[115][116]

The Chinese Canadian community takes on both old and new social and cultural traditions and values passed on from generation. The inextricable connection of kinship remain strong, though the nature of kinship groups and families has changed over the years. Cultural groups (many of them established to serve Chinese from different areas of the world) and traditional cultural activities such as Chinese theatre and opera, as well as kung-fu, still flourish. Chinese-language newspapers and television programs have wide followings. Similarly, a high valuation of education was important in Chinese society, as Confucian tradition values scholarship. At the same time, Chinese Canadians contribute richly to a dynamic new literary and artistic culture; Chinese Canadian authors, filmmakers and musicians have made names for themselves well beyond Canada’s borders.[117]

Notable Chinese Canadians

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Library resources

  • Chinese Canadian Genealogy at the Vancouver Public Library
  • Chinese-Canadians: Profiles from a Community - Vancouver Public Library wiki
  • Historic Chinese Language Materials in British Columbia (加華文獻聚珍)
  • Multicultural Canada website
  • History of the Early Chinese Canadians (Library and Archives Canada)

Further reading

External links

  • Lost Years: A People's Struggle for Justice - International Award-Winning epic documentary on the Chinese Canadian Community
  • Asian Canadian Community-Chinese
  • Chinese Canadian Stories at the University of British Columbia
  • Chinese Canadian National Council
  • Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia Chinese Canadian Women, 1923-1967 - MHSO
  • Overview of Chinese Canadian History
  • Chinese Canadian Women
  • History of Chinese in Canada
  • History of the Chinese Head Tax & Exclusion Act
  • National Film Board - Documentary "In The Shadow of Gold Mountain", detailing the history of abuse against Chinese Canadians
  • CBC Digital Archives - A Tale of Perseverance: Chinese Immigration to Canada
  • Timeline of Important Events in the History of the Chinese in Canada
  • 100 influential Chinese Canadians in British Columbia (October 2006)
  • Alphabetical List of Persons: A to L, Alphabetical List of Persons: L to S Alphabetical List of Persons, S to Z
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