Tamil Canadians are Canadians of Tamil ethnic origins mostly from Sri Lanka. From a population of fewer than 150 Tamils in 1983, it has become one of the largest visible minority population groups within the Greater Toronto Area. In the 1991 census, Tamils were the fastest-growing ethnic group in the city. Canada's Tamil population is thought to constitute the 2nd largest Sri Lankan diaspora in the world (London having the largest congregation of Tamils) with Toronto (having a Tamil ethnic population of 157,000 as of 2016) being home to the 2nd largest Tamil community outside of Asia.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Greater Toronto, Greater Montreal, Greater Vancouver, Calgary Region, Edmonton Region, National Capital Region|
|Tamil, Canadian English, Canadian French|
|Hinduism, Christianity, Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Sri Lankan Tamils, Indo-Canadians|
With the outbreak of riots and eventual civil war in Sri Lanka in 1983, Tamil migration to Canada increased significantly. In 2000, Sri Lanka was the sixth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, sending 5,841 people or 2.57% of Canada's immigrant total. Between 1991 and 2001, Sri Lanka was the fifth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, after China, India, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.
Between 2001 and 2010 Sri Lanka's rank dropped to 17 in the list of immigrant source countries to Canada. Well behind the major source countries China (327,317), India (277,819) and Philippines (191,121). In 2010 immigrants from Sri Lanka consisted of only 1.4% of Canada's immigrant total of 280,681.
Most permanent residents from Sri Lanka came as either independent immigrants, refugees, or family class sponsored immigrants.
Refugee claimants are an independent category of Tamils from Sri Lanka who arrived in Canada and are claiming protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. After 2001 there have been no Government of Canada or private sponsored Tamil refugees to Canada. There are 141,074 UNHCR recognized Tamil refugees in non-signatory countries. There are a total of 589,639 refugees from Sri Lanka in 2011 who have registered with the UNHCR in non-signatory countries.
|Year||Permanent residents||Refugee claimants||Government/private |
Much of the Tamil language media in Canada is based in Toronto, while some centres operate in Montreal. A community magazine, Thamizhar Mathiyil (Amidst Tamils), has been published since 1990 and has grown to several hundred pages in length. Ten alternative weekly Tamil language newspapers are distributed primarily in Toronto and Montreal. The Monsoon Journal and the Tamil Mirror are English language newspapers created and targeted at Tamils. Four Tamil language radio stations broadcast out of Toronto and Montreal as well. Three Tamil language television stations (Tamil Vision International, Tamil One, and Tamil Entertainment Television) are based in Toronto.
Various political, social and religious organizations exists among the Tamil Canadian community. One such organization is Canadian Tamil Congress, which works as a community and lobby group to communicate on behalf of some Tamil Canadians at the municipal, provincial, federal, and international levels. The Canadian Tamil Congress is largest of these organizations with 11 chapters in the country. The smaller organizations are geared towards organizing kin and village groups from Sri Lanka, as well as supporting various political parties such as the Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party and Conservative Party of Canada. Tamil candidates have participated in the political process representing various parties at municipal, provincial and federal level. In 2011, Rathika Sitsabaiesan was elected as the first Tamil-Canadian Member of Parliament, as a New Democrat in Scarborough-Rouge River. Previously, Logan Kanapathi was the first Tamil Canadian candidate to win election to large municipal government. He currently serves his second term as Ward 7 councilor in the town of Markham. Many Hindu Temples have been built by the community to cater to its religious needs. Hindu Youth Network, an organization founded by Sri Lankan Tamils, is currently the largest Hindu youth movement in Canada with thousands of Hindu Tamil students and over 80% of the Hindu student groups in the country under its umbrella. There are also Christian churches that cater particularly to the Tamil community in Canada.
Tamil Canadians have run multiple campaigns encouraging the donation of blood to the Canadian Blood Services organized by various Canadian Tamil organizations. The community also undertook a recent campaign to help SickKids Hospital, which treats 100,000 children every year. These campaigns were organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress, with the support of many social and community organizations. Some campaigns and non-profit charities in the Canadian Tamil community have also been linked to the funding of the LTTE, a designated terrorist organization in Canada.
A unanimous decision was made at the House of Commons on October 5, 2016 declaring the month of January as Tamil Heritage Month under M-24. The motion will "recognize the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Tamil language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Tamil heritage for future generations by declaring January, every year, Tamil Heritage Month.".
Canada has attracted a number of internationally renowned writers from Sri Lanka, including Shyam Selvadurai. Despite his family's relative privilege and urban base, his family left Sri Lanka because of the 1983 riots. Canadian Tamils have also contributed to the sports fields such as the formerly ranked Canadian tennis player Sonya Jeyaseelan and cricketer Sanjayan Thuraisingam. Pradeeban Peter-Paul a Tamil Canadian table tennis player has been part of the Canadian National Team for the past 12 years. He was one of two Canadians who qualified to represent Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Soccer and cricket are two of the main sports played by the Tamil population in Canada.
A law named "Tamil Heritage Month Act, 2014" was passed by the Ontario government to proclaim January as Tamil heritage month. This law is for remembering, celebrating and educating future generations about the inspirational roles that Tamil Canadians have played.
Based on Census 2016
1. Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON - 13.94% (14,255)
2. Scarborough North, ON - 12.23% (12,080)
3. Markham—Thornhill, ON - 10.61% (10,515)
4. Scarborough—Guildwood, ON - 9.45% (9,680)
5. Scarborough Centre, ON - 9.40% (10,590)
6. Markham—Stouffville, ON - 6.71% (8,460)
7. Scarborough—Agincourt, ON - 5.18% (5,465)
8. Ajax, ON - 5.12% (6,125)
9. Brampton East, ON - 5.08% (6,195)
10. Mississauga—Malton, ON - 3.95% (4,675)
11. Scarborough Southwest, ON - 3.65% (4,025)
12. Brampton West, ON - 3.35% (4,360)
13. Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON - 2.41% (2,895)
14. Humber River—Black Creek, ON - 2.36% (2,555)
15. Mississauga Centre, ON - 2.34% (2,925)
16. Etobicoke North, ON - 2.31% (2,730)
17. Brampton North, ON - 2.22% (2,620)
18. Toronto Centre, ON - 2.21% (2,295)
19. Brampton South, ON - 2.18% (2,645)
20. Markham—Unionville, ON - 2.14% (2,645)
21. Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC - 2.08% (2,255)
22. Saint-Laurent, QC - 2.03% (2,010)
Anglo-Indian Canadians are Canadian citizens of Anglo-Indian heritage. Many Anglo-Indian Canadians have roots in the Indian subcontinent. Some of the earlier generations of Indians have British Indian heritage.Asian Canadians
Asian Canadians are Canadians who can trace their ancestry back to the continent of Asia or Asian people. Canadians with Asian ancestry comprise the largest and fastest growing visible minority group in Canada, with roughly 17.7% of the Canadian population. Most Asian Canadians are concentrated in the urban areas of Southern Ontario, the Greater Vancouver area, Calgary, and other large Canadian cities.
Asian Canadians considered visible minorities may be classified as East Asian Canadian (e.g. Chinese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Japanese Canadians); South Asian Canadians (e.g. Bangladeshi Canadians, Indian Canadians, Pakistani Canadians, Sri Lankan Canadians); Southeast Asian Canadian (e.g. Filipino Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians); or West Asian Canadians (e.g. Iranian Canadians, Iraqi Canadians, Lebanese Canadians).Canadian Tamil Congress
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) is a non-profit organization of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Canada. The CTC has served Canada's Tamil community since October 2000 and has 11 chapters. The objectives of the Canadian Tamil Congress are: to promote the participation of Tamil Canadians in activities of local, regional, provincial and national importance; to uphold the Canadian values of human rights, multiculturalism, religious and cultural diversity, pluralism, and volunteerism; to champion for equal rights and in particular, gender equality; to support the cultural and political aspirations of Tamils. The organization also promotes the study and knowledge of Tamil language, culture and history within the Canadian context. The CTC also works on adjustment/settlement issues.
Canada is home to a large Tamil Canadian community. Thousands of Tamils arrived in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s, particularly as a result of Black July ethnic riots which ravaged Sri Lanka.Crescent Town
Crescent Town is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the former borough of East York. It is located near Victoria Park Avenue and Danforth Avenue. It mainly consists of high-rise apartment complexes, built originally to take advantage of the opening of the adjacent Victoria Park subway station, which connects to the central quadrangle via a partially covered walkway.Indo-Guadeloupeans
Indo-Guadeloupeans are mostly descended from indentured workers who came mostly from South India in the late 19th century. There are currently about 60,000 people of Indian origin living in Guadeloupe, making it home to one of the largest South Indian populations in the Caribbean.Music of Tamil Nadu
Music of Tamil Nadu has a long tradition and history going back thousands of years. Music is a very important aspect of the culture of the Tamil people.Myanmar Tamils
Myanmar Tamils or Burmese Tamils are people of ethnic Tamil ancestry who reside in Myanmar. Tamils had the earliest contact with Myanmar during the first-second century CE. The Tamil Chola empire had trade relationships with various Burmese kingdoms. The large Tamil migration to Myanmar began during the British colonial era. Tamils worked as labourers in rice fields and rubber plantations. According to a report from 1966, there were 200,000 Tamils in Myanmar. Since the Second World War, the number of Tamils has declined dramatically and many fled back to India and other countries. The Burma Bazaar in Tamil Nadu was set up in 1969 by Myanmar Tamil refugees.
Between 1940 and 1942 many Malaysian and Myanmar Tamils were forced by Japanese occupiers to labour on a 415 kilometres (258 mi) railway track between Thailand and Burma. Over 150,000 Tamils died during the project by poisonous animals, illnesses, exhaustion and Japanese torture.Majority of the Tamils in Myanmar are Hindus and there are Tamil Hindu temples in Yangon. Many Myanmar Tamils have a Burmese name and some don't speak Tamil well or fluently, but they work to preserve their Tamil identity. Tamil community sometimes faces discrimination in Myanmar but less than other ethnic groups like the Rohingya people.Protests against the Sri Lankan Civil War in Canada
The protests against the Sri Lankan Civil War in Canada, often referred to as the Tamil protests by the media, consisted of a series of demonstrations which took place in major Canadian cities with a significant Tamil diaspora population during the year 2009 protesting the alleged genocide of Sri Lankan Tamil people in the Northern Province of the island nation Sri Lanka. It was part of a global outcry by the Tamil diaspora to end the Sri Lankan Civil War, investigate acts of war crimes by the Government of Sri Lanka, and restore civil rights for Tamils in Sri Lanka. The aim was also to create awareness and appeal to leaders, notably the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, the President of the United States, Barack Obama and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Canada, Bandula Jayasekara, to take action in ending the conflict. Several Tamil Canadian citizens and business-owners from different parts of Canada and the United States took part in major protests set up in Toronto and Ottawa, while smaller scale demonstrations took place in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
The first notable demonstration took place on 28 January 2009 in front of the Sri Lankan Consulate in Toronto involving a few hundred people. The following day, several thousands gathered in front of the Consulate of the United States in Toronto to appeal to the Government of the United States to take action on ending the civil war. A 5-kilometre (3.1-mile) human chain of several thousands of citizens took place the next day along major streets in Downtown Toronto. There after, demonstrations began to escalate in size and occurred on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for sometime, until returning to continue in Toronto. Other tactics by protesters included, sit-ins, hunger strikes, Internet activism and occupation of major streets.Singapore Tamils
Singapore Tamils refers to Tamil community living in Singapore, who came from South India and Sri Lanka. Singapore is home to about 500,000 Tamilians. Singapore has emerged as the most preferred destination among migrants from Tamil Nadu. A study has revealed that 410,000 of the 2.2 million Tamil Nadu diaspora were residing in Singapore in 2015.Sri Lankan Canadians
Sri Lankan Canadians refers to people from Sri Lanka who have arrived and settled in Canada. Among these immigrants include members from the Tamil, Sinhalese, Moor, Malay and Burgher ethnicities. As of 2006 there are 103,625 Sri Lankans in Canada.Swiss Tamils
Swiss Tamils refer to the Swiss citizens of Tamil as well as expatriate residents of Tamil origin living in Switzerland. Most of the Tamils in Switzerland are from Sri Lanka, who came to Switzerland during 1980s and 1990s as refugees due to the Sri Lankan Civil War. The Tamils are well integrated in the Swiss society and have proved themselves as a hard-working people and many young Tamils are doing well in school. Swiss Tamils are socially and culturaly not so integrated in Swiss culture. Tamil values are still strong among the community, caste system and arranged wedding are common. The second generation seem to be better integrated than the first generation, but most still follow the old ways.Tamil Americans
Tamil Americans (தமிழ் அமெரிக்கர்கள்) are Americans who are of Tamil ethnic origin, mostly from India and Sri Lanka and other diasporic centers such as Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and the United Kingdom.Tamil Germans
Tamil German or German Tamizhar refer to the German citizens of Tamil ethnic origins mainly from Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia apart from other parts of the world. Tamil migration to Germany which was mainly composed of Higher Education and Labor migrants increased in the late 1980s and onwards mainly due to the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War which saw tens of thousands of those belonging to the Tamil community fleeing the country and seeking asylum elsewhere abroad.The Tamil population figures in Germany currently range somewhere between 50,000-60,000.Tamil Mauritian
Tamil Mauritians are the descendants of Tamil migrants to Mauritius. The original immigrants from Tamil were craftsmen and tradesmen and arrived when Mauritians was ruled by France. The island nation has a Tamil population of 115,000. Most were brought by the British from Tamil Nadu after 1727 to serve as labourers on the sugar cane plantations. Around 15 percent of Indo-Mauritians are Tamils. The community includes a Hindu majority and the rest are Christians (largely Roman Catholic).
They account to 55,000 of the Mauritian population. Of this number, around 7000 people reported that they spoke Tamil. Most Tamils in Mauritius are Hindus. A large population of the Tamils in Mauritius live in Rose-Hill.
Thaipusam, the Tamil Hindu festival, is a national holiday in Mauritius and is notable in the temples.
Most Tamil Mauritians can read and write Tamil to some extent, but very few can speak it well. Most speak Mauritian Creole, which include many Tamil words. A Tamil magazine Pathirikai and a Tamil radio station Onex FM exist in Mauritius. Most cultural aspects and rituals can be seen in full-fledged manner. Around a 100 schools teach Tamil as a mother tongue subject. It can also be learnt at university level. A Tamil conference was held here. Murugan temples are common and some Tamil place names are found here.Tamil New Zealanders
Tamil New Zealanders are New Zealand citizens and residents of Tamil ethnicity or ancestry. An estimated number of 3000 Tamils currently reside in the country. The 2013 New Zealand census found 732 people usually resident who identified as Sri Lankan Tamil, and 303 as Indian Tamil.Tamil Seychellois
Tamil-Seychellois are people of Tamil ethnic origins living in the island nation of Seychelles. Their population is roughly estimated to 4000, making them one of the island's significant minorities.Tamil South Africans
Tamil South Africans are South Africans of Tamil descent. Tamil people form the majority of Indian immigrants who came from India to Natal, South Africa, from 1860 onwards. After the expiry of their indentures most of these Indians moved to the cities, becoming established as a thoroughly urban population.Tamils in Italy
Tamils in Italy are people of ethnic Tamil ancestry who reside in Italy. Around 25,000 Tamils from both Sri Lanka and India are estimated to be living in Italy.Vijay Thanigasalam
Vijay Thanigasalam is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election. He represents the riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
Thanigasalam was educated at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School until 2007.
Canadians of Asian descent by area of origin