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Iraqi Canadian
Total population
29,950[1]
Regions with significant populations
British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta
Languages

Canadian English, Arabic, Kurdish, South Azeri, Neo-Aramaic, Mandaic, Hebrew and Canadian French

Religion

Predominantly Islam (Shia and Sunni) and Christianity (Syriac Christianity and Eastern Catholic).

Related ethnic groups

Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azeris, Chaldeans, Iranians, Mizrahim, Turks,
Some descendants Canadians

Iraqi Canadians come from a country of great ethno-linguistic and religious diversity. An estimated 36,000 Iraqi expatriates reside in Canada. Several thousand Canadians are of Iraqi descent.

Contents

History

Emigration from Iraq to Canada has increased dramatically due to political and economic situations in Iraq. The Iraq-Iran War resulted in many immigrants, while destroying the Iraqi economy and being oppressed by the 13 year economic sanctions against Iraq that have followed the Gulf War of 1990–91; there was all the more reason to emigrate abroad. From 1945 until 1975 fewer than 200 Iraqis arrived in Canada [2] emigration had substaintially increased in 1979, the year Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq. Between 1975 and 1992, 6,472 Iraqis arrived in Canada [2] establishing about 3.5 percent of all Arab immigrants in Canada [2] . About 65 percent of Iraqis have settled in Quebec,& British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver, and most of the remainder in Montreal. There are equal numbers from both males and females.

The 1991 Canadian census recorded 4,790 Iraqis; 3,525 of wholly Iraqi ancestry, and 1,265 of partial Iraqi ancestry.[2] Iraqi immigrants through the period of 1981-1992 settled principally in a few cities in Canada: British Columbia (362), Alberta (268), Quebec (203), Ontario (176), and Manitoba (152).[2]

Employment

The main factor for the immigration of Iraqis was due to the Gulf War and the situation in Iraq which drove them out of their homeland. In Canada, Iraqi immigrants seem to face three unexplainable problems, the first being unable to find jobs where they can apply their professional expertise. The second being discrimination, with a possibility that some employers associate them with the regime that they fled and the third being the lack of Canadian experience. Despite a high level of education and professional experience, 54 percent of 892 immigrants were unemployed, and, of the 407 with jobs, 40 percent had professional positions; 24 percent, lower white-collar; 30 percent, blue-collar; 3 percent, service; and 3 percent, not stated.[2]

Community life

Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa

The patterns of formal association among Iraqis are new and voluntary, as revealed most notably in the Iraqi Community Center link title based in Cote Des Neiges, Montreal. They help Iraqis adapt to Canada and develop ties with the general society, and they disseminate information about the ethnocultural heritage of Iraqi Canadians. Gender equity is the norm; the president of the Iraqi Canadian Society is a woman.[2]

Culture

Despite differences in dialect, Iraqi Canadians see themselves as Arabs. Almost all Iraqi immigrants wish to maintain the Arabic language in both oral and written forms. Because young children and Canadian-born ones cannot easily learn reading and writing skills, more emphasis is put on teaching oral skills. Many Canadian-born can understand spoken Arabic without being able to speak it. Gender equity, which has expanded in Iraq itself, is encouraged in Canada. Marriage for both males and females remains principally endogamous.

Iraqi Canadians have their own community newsletters, and almost all Iraqi-born read magazines, books, and newspapers written in Arabic and published outside Canada. Cultural products imported from Iraq or other parts of the Arab world are an essential component of family life, including videotapes of Arabic films, plays, and songs and cassette tapes of Arabic music. Visits by well-known popular singers from Iraq and other Arab countries are very common.

Children of both Christian and Muslim Iraqi Canadians are taught to respect and be proud of their cultural heritage. While they are sensitized to the problems of the old country, they are admonished to adjust to the new land and to address the opportunities and problems faced here. The longer the residence in Canada, the less the role of the family in fostering ethnic identity. Canadian-born children are keenly responsive to the pressure of acculturation, as facilitated particularly by public schools, the peer group, and the mass media. Therefore ancestral ties and the old country become secondary.

In Iraq, adult literacy in 1980 was 70 percent, and the excellent, secular education system was open to both sexes.[2] Most Iraqi immigrants to Canada are highly educated professionals, and their children will almost certainly place a great value on educational achievement.

There is a sizable number of Iraqi Christians in Canada.Christian denominations include Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Nestorian, and several rites of Catholicism. The remaining 40 percent are Muslims, either Shiite or Sunni. In contrast to Iraq, where just over half the country’s Muslims are Shiite, among Iraqis in Canada as in the Arab world as a whole, Sunni are by far the majority.[2]

Prominent Iraqis in Canada and Canadians of Iraqi descent

References

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