East Asians of Canada - Orientation

Identification. As used here, "East Asians in Canada" refers to Canadians of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Filipino ethnic ancestry. The Chinese in Canada can be divided into two major subgroups—those who came before 1947 and those who have come since then. The earlier group was composed almost totally of men who lived in western Canada. They came primarily from Guangdong Province in southern China. Those who have arrived since 1947 have more often been families, with a substantial percentage emigrating from Hong Kong. Within each subgroup further distinctions can be made on the basis of time of migration to Canada, social status, and place of birth. The Japanese in Canada are a heterogeneous group, consisting of the issei, nisei, sansei, yonsei, and the shin eijusha. The issei, or first generation, in Canada is made up of the early immigrants who came to Canada roughly between 1877 and 1907. The nisei are the children of the issei who as a group were born between about 1908 and 1940. In Japanese, nisei means "second generation," sansei, "third generation," and yonsei, "fourth generation." The Japanese immigrants who came to Canada after World War II are called the "shin eijusha." Theoretically, these new immigrants can be called "issei," but they prefer to be known as the new immigrants because they are mostly technicians and professionals, unlike the issei before the war who were mostly laborers, farmers, and fishermen. The Koreans and Filipinos are more homogeneous groups, as many are skilled technicians or professionals who have settled in Canada only in the last few decades and have assimilated easily into the Canadian Economy.

Location. Prior to the post-World War II influx, East Asians in general lived mainly in British Columbia and other western provinces. The Chinese were concentrated in British Columbia as well, though Chinese communities did form in large cities elsewhere (for example, Toronto) prior to World War II. In 1986, Ontario contained the largest number of people in each of the four groups with 156,170 Chinese, 44,195 Filipinos, 17,200 Koreans, and 16,150 Japanese. British Columbia is home for 112,605 Chinese, 15,905 Japanese, 15,810 Filipinos, and 5,065 Koreans. Alberta also has many East Asians, and Manitoba has a sizable (15,815) Filipino population. There are relatively few East Asians in the Maritime Provinces or in Quebec, with the exception of the Chinese who number 23,205 in the latter.

Demography. According to estimates from the 1986 Census, there are 360,320 Chinese, 93,285 Filipinos, 40,995 Japanese, and 27,285 Koreans in Canada. East Asians constitute about 2 percent of the population of Canada. Their number has increased rapidly in the last thirty years, both through natural population growth and through increased immigration under the Immigration Act of 1952 and subsequent amendments. For the Japanese, intermarriage of the sansei and younger nisei with non-Japanese has contributed to the natural population growth. The younger group in the Japanese-Canadian demographic profile provides a contrasting pattern to the general Canadian population profile in that the population pyramid base is wider indicating the population as a whole is younger. Filipinos in Canada today are mostly young with a high percentage of females, many of whom have arrived since the 1960s.

Linguistic Affiliation. Prior to the end of World War II, when they were isolated from the general population, the Chinese and Japanese maintained their native languages. Full participation in their community often required knowledge of the local or regional dialect of Japanese or Cantonese or Mandarin. But those who have settled in Canada in the last thirty years and their children are more often bilingual in the native language and English, with many Chinese from Hong Kong speaking Hong Kong Chinese. Many recent Filipino and Korean immigrants have arrived already speaking English along with their native language.

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