Iranian Community


Iran, formerly known as Persia, is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Iranians/Persians is a south-western Asian country with a population of over 60 million, Iran is home to different national and ethnic groups, including the Fars (majority), Azaris, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Lors, Turkmens and Baluchis.

The official language is Farsi or Persian. Iranians are predominantly Shi'a Muslims but there are different religious minorities including Sunni Moslems, Christians of various denominations, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Compared to other immigrant groups, the Iranians are relative newcomers to Canada. As late as the end of World War II, there were only a dozen Iranians living in Canada. The large influx of immigrant groups following World War II did not include Iranians. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, the numbers ranged from ten to one hundred annually.

The first real wave of Iranian immigrants to Canada arrived in the 1970's, when the number increased from 100/year to 600/year by 1978. Following the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1978, the rate of immigration accelerated to several thousand per year. This level was sustained throughout the Iran/Iraq war and throughout the 1990's over the period of 1978-1990, some came as immigrants for economic reasons. The majority, however, at that time came to Canada for political reasons or they were fleeing the horror of the Iran/Iraq War.

It is the political and economic hardships in Iran - and the difficulty of immigrating to the US and other Western European countries - that have led to Canada becoming a favourite destination of Iranian immigrants.

The Iranians who came to Canada were aided by the change in immigration rules, which judged immigrants on a specific point system based upon education and occupation. Country of origin, which had been stressed in previous immigration guidelines, was no longer a factor.

Canada had officially become a multicultural country, encouraging, not only a non-traditional immigrant base, but facilitating this by encouraging programs to ensure that these groups maintain their culture and traditions in Canada .In the period after 1990, the Iranian immigration to Canada has mostly got the economic factor in it. In 2002, more than 200,000 educated Iranian professionals immigrated mainly to Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Eastern Europe.

According to the 2006 census, there were 121,510 Iranians in Canada (99,225 single response and 54 ,75 multiple response). This represents a 38% increase over the 2001 census figure of 88,225.

The vast majority of Iranian immigrants come from urban areas, particularly large and mid-size cities, and they continue to live in major urban centres in Canada. The 2006 census recorded 70,590 people of Iranian origin living in Ontario, with 81% living in Toronto. Over 90% of the people of Iranian heritage live in three provinces; 58% in Ontario, 10% in Quebec and 24% in British Columbia.