East Asians of Canada - Religion and Expressive Culture

The majority of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos in Canada are Christians.

Chinese. Traditional Chinese religious beliefs centered on ancestor worship, which is reported as declining in Canada. But because ancestor worship is practiced in private, just how important it still is is unclear. The majority of Chinese are now Christians, with various denominations (Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal) represented in the larger Chinese communities. The United church is the most important and is the center of social and recreational activities in many communities. Major holidays other than Christian ones are the Lunar New Year, Bright-Clear, and Mid-Autumn. Chinese cultural traditions remain strong in Canada and are reflected in Chinese opera, martial arts, food, and traditional crafts such as paper folding. These traditions are maintained in part through regular cultural Exchanges between Chinese-Canadian communities and the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Japanese. The early issei or Japanese immigrants preferred Buddhism, but by the early 1900s, Christian missionaries were beginning to have some success in winning converts. Both the United church of Canada and the Methodists were making considerable inroads especially with the Canadian-born nisei. Although churches in Canada did not take a stand when Japanese property was confiscated and the Japanese were interned during World War II, the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and United churches provided elementary school education for children in British Columbia camps. The 1986 census indicates that this education experience helped win converts to the churches, with 10,680 Japanese members of the United church, 3,425 Anglicans, and 1,625 Roman Catholics in comparison to 10,330 Buddhists. There are also Japanese who are Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Lutherans, and other Protestant denominations. More than 25 percent claim no Religious affiliation. Recent immigrants reflect the changing Religious affiliations of modern Japan in that several shinko shukyo, or "new religions" such as Soka Gakkai, Tenrikyo, P. L. Kyodan, Rissho Kosei Kai, and Konkokyo, are beginning to flourish in such cities as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. These new religions, however, have their roots in Shintoism and Buddhism.

Koreans. For Koreans, earliest contacts with Canada date to 1890 and the arrival of Canadian missionaries in Korea. These missionaries later arranged for the immigration of Koreans to Canada. Koreans belong mainly to the Korean United church, the Korean Presbyterian church, and the Korean Roman Catholic church, with the United church being the most influential. At the same time, Korean traditions are maintained and Korean food, dance, music, and martial arts are highy visible in Canadian society. In addition to the major Christian holidays, Korea's National Independence Day is celebrated on March 1.

Filipino. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos in Canada are Roman Catholics, and their churches are the centers for organized activity outside the family. The Christian holidays are major religious and social events and are celebrated with the incorporation of traditional foods, dance, music, and other customs.

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