Turkish Canadians

Turkish people ISBN (identifier) Canada

Turkish Canadians
Türk asıllı Kanadalılar
Turkish Canadians 2005.jpg
Turkish Canadians at the Victoria Day Parade in 2005
Total population
65,000 (by ancestry, 2016 Census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly Sunni Islam, significant minority of Shi'a Islam (Alevi), Christianity as well as Judaism

Turkish Canadians (Turkish: Türk asıllı Kanadalılar; literally "Turkish-originating Canadians"), also called Canadian Turks (Turkish: Kanadalı Türkler) are Canadian citizens of Turkish descent, or Turkey-born people who reside in Canada.[2][3] According to the Canadian government's 2016 Census, there were 63,955 Canadians who claimed full or partial Turkish descent or ancestry.[1]


Turks first began to immigrate to Canada in small numbers from the Ottoman Empire. However, significant migration initially began in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Turkish government encouraged student education abroad.[4] There have also been Turks fleeing from unrest and oppression in Bulgaria and Cyprus who arrived in Canada as both political and economic refugees.[4]

Ottoman migration

In 1901, Canada had between 300–400 Muslim residents, equally divided between Turks and Syrian Arabs.[5] By 1911, the size of the Muslim community had increased to about 1,500, of whom 1,000 were of Turkish origin and the remainder were Arabs.[5] During the pre-World War I period, Turks were to be found in mining and logging camps across Canada.[6] However, due to bad relations between the Ottoman Empire and Allied Powers of WWI, further migration was made difficult for the Turks and the Canadian government discouraged "Asian" immigration.[6] Thus, by the onset of World War I, Canada witnessed the return of many Turkish immigrants who were then classified as "enemy aliens".[5] Another reason for the return-migration of Ottoman Turks was because for the majority of Turks, the founding of the new republic of Turkey in 1923 was a greater incentive to stay at home.[6]

Mainland Turkish migration

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government of Turkey encouraged and financially supported Turkish students to study in Canada.[4] Thus, the early 1960s consisted primarily of students and professionals, especially doctors and engineers.[7] Significant Turkish immigration began during the 1960s and 1970s; most Turks went to Canada for educational and economic opportunities.[7] According to the 1972 Canada census there were 9,342 Turkish-born persons living in Canada.

Bulgarian Turks' migration

In 1989, Turks in Bulgaria were fleeing from the unrest and oppression of the Bulgarian government; many have arrived in Canada as political and economic refugees.[6]

Turkish Cypriot migration

During the 1950s, Turkish Cypriots started to leave Cyprus for political reasons when the Greek Cypriots held a referendum in which 95.7% of Greek Cypriots supported enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece. By 1963, inter-ethnic fighting broke out in Cyprus, with Turkish Cypriots bearing the heavier cost in terms of casualties and some 25,000 Turkish Cypriots became internally displaced accounting to about a fifth of their population.[8] Tension continued to grow by the late 1960s and approximately 60,000 Turkish Cypriots left their homes and moved into enclaves.[9] This resulted in an exodus of more Turkish Cypriots from the island, many migrating to Canada. In 1983, Turkish Cypriots unilaterally proclaimed the establishment of their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has since remained internationally unrecognized except by Turkey. Since the division of the island, the Turkish Cypriot economy has remained stagnant and undeveloped because of the economic embargoes which have been imposed on the north.[10] Turkish Cypriots are still forced to emigrate, as a result of unemployment, and economic, social and moral degradation. Furthermore, due to the 'Turkification' policies administered in the north, Turkish Cypriots responses to such policies of nationalization have been to leave the island and moved to Britain, Australia, and Canada.[11]


According to the Canada 2006 Census, there were 43,700 Turks living in Canada; the majority were concentrated in Toronto (14,970), Montreal (10,345), Vancouver (3,380), Ottawa (2,455), Hamilton (1,590), Calgary (1,305), and Edmonton (1,250).[12] However, the actual number of Turkish Canadians is believed to be considerably higher,[3] as ethnic Turks have also immigrated to Canada via Bulgaria, Cyprus, and the Republic of Macedonia.[3] Statistics on Bulgarian Turks, Turkish Cypriots, and Macedonian Turks present particular problems because it is unclear how many have immigrated to Canada; they are recorded by their citizenship (i.e. "Bulgarian", "Cypriot", and "Macedonian") rather than their ethnicity.

Turkish settlement

Rank Provinces/territories Population (2001 census)[13] Population (2006 census)[12] Percentage increase/decrease
1  Ontario 14,580 23,425 > 62%
2  Quebec 5,680 11,390 > 49.8%
3  British Columbia 2,395 4,250 > 56.35%
4  Alberta 1,515 2,970 > 51%
5  Nova Scotia 190 425 > 44.7%
6  Saskatchewan 105 400 > 26.25%
7  Manitoba 275 345 > 79%
8  New Brunswick 125 275 > 45%
9  Newfoundland and Labrador 35 135 > 25.9%
10  Northwest Territories 10 65 > 15%
11  Yukon 0 10 ≠ 0%
12  Nunavut 0 (10 Multiple responses) 0 ≠ 0%
13  Prince Edward Island 0 0 ≠ 0%
Total  Canada 24,910 43,700 > 57%
(Source: 2001 & 2006 Canadian Census')



The vast majority of Turkish Canadians are Sunni Muslims, whilst the remaining people generally do not have any religious affiliation. Prior to 1980, Turkish Canadian immigrants were from both urban and secular backgrounds.[14] Religion remained an affair of the private conscience.[14] In May 1983, the Canadian Turkish Islamic Heritage Association (Kanada Türk Islam Kültür Derneği) was established, followed by the Canadian Turkish Islamic Trust (Kanada Türk Islam Vakfi) in April 1987.[14]



Turkish Canadians are generally fluent in Turkish, but may speak an Anglicized dialect, slang, or version, informally called "Turkilizce". This unofficial, informal dialect is common among younger Canadian Turks, and is characterized by the addition of English loanwords to otherwise completely Turkish conversations (for example, the Turkish translation of "to schedule" would be "tarih belirlemek", but a Turkilizce speaker would say "schedule etmek").[16][17][18][19]


Social media

Turkish newspapers

Turkish Television Channels

Turkish Radio Channels



Since 2005, Nile Academy, a private, secular school[32] run by Turkish administration linked to a nonprofit organization called Canadian Turkish Friendship Community,[33] has grown exponentially over the years. Within eleven years, they managed to open their 3rd[34] school within Ontario. They have also opened a dormitory located near Jane Street and Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto. Throughout the years, Nile Academy has competed in Turkish Language Olympiads and many wrestling tournaments in Ontario.[35]

In the mid 2010s, Nile Academy closed its main dormitory, and merged its three campuses into a single one, located in the Humber Summit neighbourhood of Toronto.[36]

Nile Academy is also linked with the Islamic cleric, author, and scholar, Fethullah Gülen as well as the Gülen Movement.[37] They have had many notable alumni[38] since they opened in 2005.


Since the 1960s, many community organizations have appeared representing various groups of Turkish immigrants. The various associations across Canada are currently represented by the "Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations", an umbrella organization founded in the mid-1980s.[39] The federation serves as a referral and communications centre for news of Turkey, local events, business and governmental inquiries, and intergroup relations. More recently, a similar Turkish Cypriot umbrella group, the "Federation of Turkish Cypriot Associations of Canada", was established; the "Canadian Association for Solidarity of Turks from Bulgaria" also forms part of the federation.[39]

The Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations is an umbrella organization representing 17 member associations from Victoria to Quebec, which include approximately 50,000 Canadians of Turkish origin. The federation was established in 1985 and is a non-profit organization with no political affiliations. It supports and encourages activities that deal with important cultural, economic, educational, historical, social and religious issues that relate to the Turkish community in Canada.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "Ethnic Origin, both sexes, age (total), Canada, 2019 Census – 25% Sample data". Canada 2016 Census. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  2. ^ Karpat 2004, 632
  3. ^ a b c Powell 2005, 297
  4. ^ a b c Aksan 1999, 1277.
  5. ^ a b c Abu-Laban 1983, 76.
  6. ^ a b c d Aksan 1999, 1276.
  7. ^ a b Powell 2005, 298
  8. ^ Cassia 2007, 19.
  9. ^ Tocci 2004, 53.
  10. ^ Tocci 2004, 61.
  11. ^ Papadakis, Peristianis & Welz 2006, 94.
  12. ^ a b Statistics Canada. "2006 Census". Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  13. ^ Statistics Canada. "Selected Ethnic Origins, for Canada, Provinces and Territories - 20% Sample Data". Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Aksan 1999, 1279
  15. ^ The Ottawa Turkish Festival
  16. ^ "Müzmin Saksı: Türkilizce sözlük". Müzmin Saksı. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  17. ^ Şafak, Yeni (6 December 2004). "'Türkilizce' konuşacağız". Yeni Şafak (in Turkish). Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Türkilizce". www.bizimanadolu.com. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
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  39. ^ a b Aksan 1999, 1278
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