Some cool history about Muslims in Canada

By 1911, British Columbia had the largest population of Muslims in Canada – about 500 Muslims mostly from Turkey and Bulgaria. But at the time, life for many non-Europeans was becoming increasingly difficult in the province. An economic recession coupled with racist attitudes spurred race riots and the creation of more discriminatory laws against Chinese and Japanese immigrants. The start of WWI prompted more antagonism against Turkish immigrants, who were also pressured to leave. By 1921, there were only 82 Muslims left in the province.

A New Immigration Policy and the Dawn of Multiculturalism

After WWII, the Muslims who immigrated to Canada were skilled labourers and professionals. French speaking Muslims from North Africa settled in Quebec. Muslim students and professors were attracted to the newly formed Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal, and University of Toronto’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

In the 1960s, Canada adopted a new immigration policy based on a point system, where individuals applying for Canadian immigration were graded according to their educational level. The resulting increase in Muslim immigrants from other parts of the world, countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, was accelerated after the establishment of the Multiculturalism Policy in Canada 1971.

 
Arab pioneers

 

Muslim Demographics in Canada

Canada is home to a rapidly growing Muslim community of more than 1,000,000 members. They are:

·      Descendants of Muslims who immigrated to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

·      Recent immigrants

·      Children (approximately 2.5 born to each Muslim woman in a typical year)

·      Converts to Islam

Immigration and a high birth rate are the main contributing factors to the growth of the Muslim population.

The Stats

Every ten years, Statistics Canada compiles new information on religions in Canada. Let's take a look at how things changed between 1991 and 2001.

Muslim demographics in Canada - Statistics Canada 2001

Muslim demographics in Canada - Statistics Canada 2001

There is no similar graph available for 2011. This is because Statistics Canada, like many other government departments, works at its own pace. But here's what we know. According to Statistics Canada's 2011 National Household Survey, in ten years, much had changed. The population of Canada had increased to 35,056,000, of whom 67.3% identified as Christian (a reduction of nearly 10% since 2011, when they formed 77% of the population). Comparison by denomination is as follows:

·      Roman Catholics accounted for 38.7% of the population, down from 43.2% in 2001.

·      The United Church dropped 3.5%, down to 6.1% of the total Canadian population, Anglicans dropped from 6.9% to 5%.

·      Baptists dropped from 2.5% to 1.9%.

·      Christians who did not identify with any particular church increased from 2.6% to 4%.

Non-Christians religions continued to grow, with the percentage of the population consisting of:

·      Hindu 1.5%

·      Sikh 1.4%

·      Buddhist 1.1%

·      Jewish 1.0%

·      Muslim 3.2% (up from 2.0%)

These figures show that Islam continues to be the fastest-growing non-Christian religion in Canada. In fact, in 2011, the census showed 1,053,945 Muslims living in Canada - nearly double the 2001 figure of 579,640, which was in turn more than double the 1991 figure of 253,265.

The Trend

Of course, as Muslims continue to immigrate to Canada, to marry and raise families, the population will continue to grow.

For the most part, the Muslim population in Canada forms a young community. The population only really began to boom in the 1960s, when immigration policies were changed to be more inclusive.

According to Canada's 2011 National Household Survey, the largest concentration of Muslims in Canada is in Ontario, specifically in the Greater Toronto area. However, other major centers, including Calgary, Edmonton, Windsor, Winnipeg and Halifax also have significant Muslim populations.

Most Canadian Muslims adhere to Sunni Islam, although there are also Shia adherents.

What is the geographical distribution of Canada's Muslim population between 1854 - 2001

*Includes data for all Northwest Territories for all years except 1991. ** In 1867, Canadian Confederation included Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Manitoba joined in 1870, British Columbia in 1871,, and Prince Edward Island in 1873. Saskatchewan and Alberta were created provinces in 1905; before that they were part of the Territories. Newfoundland was the lastest entry, joining in 1949. *** Author's addition showing numbers reported in Statistics Canada 2001. This chart was taken from "Muslims and Islam in Canada" by Daood Hassan Hamdani, Muslims and Islam in the American Continent Vol.1, 2001.

*Includes data for all Northwest Territories for all years except 1991.
** In 1867, Canadian Confederation included Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Manitoba joined in 1870, British Columbia in 1871,, and Prince Edward Island in 1873. Saskatchewan and Alberta were created provinces in 1905; before that they were part of the Territories. Newfoundland was the lastest entry, joining in 1949.
*** Author's addition showing numbers reported in Statistics Canada 2001.

This chart was taken from "Muslims and Islam in Canada" by Daood Hassan Hamdani, Muslims and Islam in the American Continent Vol.1, 2001.

What Does It All Mean

We’ve thrown out a lot of numbers, and of course we don’t expect you to remember them all! So what’s the takeaway? It’s simply that the Muslim population in Canada is healthy and growing. That’s because in Canada, there’s room for all kinds of religions and cultures. Muslims, Christians, and other religions can grow and prosper side by side, in harmony.