A majority of Canadians think that Asian technology, immigrants, culture, and economic growth will positively impact Canada in the next 10 to 20 years, according to a new study by the Asia Pacific Foundation.
The 2021 National Opinion Poll: Canada’s Generational Perspectives on Asia (2021 NOP), which surveyed 2,592 Canadian citizens and permanent residents across the country, found that Canadians across all generations believe it is important for the nation’s future to build competency about Asian culture, society, languages, protocols and religions.
Data from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) show five of the top 10 immigrant source countries for Canada are in Asia with India, China and Philippines topping the list. Pakistan and South Korea follow.
This year, Canada is expecting 100,568 immigrants from India, 35,538 from China, 32,688 from the Philippines, 12,684 from Pakistan and 7,173 from South Korea, according to a report on immigration.ca. It is part of Canada’s ambitious Immigration Levels Plan which aims to welcome 401,000 immigrants in 2021, another 411,000 in 2022, and an additional 421,000 in 2023.
The APF Canada’s 2021 NOP also found that 70 per cent of respondents across all age groups had too little or no exposure to Asia in high school. However, 46 per cent of respondents who said they are interested in learning more about Asia believe an increased emphasis on teaching students about Asia would be an effective method of building Canadians’ awareness about Asians.
The poll also touched on languages and found that 13 per cent of Canadians have conversational fluency in at least one Asian language. The majority are Canadians of Asian descent, with younger Canadians more likely to speak an Asian language than older generations.
“Canada’s younger generations are considerably more diverse than our older generations in terms of their ethnicity and lived experiences of multiculturalism,” said APF Canada President and CEO Jeff Nankivell, who helms the Vancouver-based think-tank focused on Canada’s relations with Asia.
“As our latest poll shows us, these young Canadians have a heightened awareness and greater enthusiasm for engagement with Asia and Asian peoples and culture. This bodes well for Canada, as we seek to strengthen and build relationships across this growing and dynamic region.”
“Importantly, this year’s NOP also underscores the important work being done in building Asia competency here at home,” added Nankivell.
“It helps identify gaps in Canadians’ awareness about Asia — and effective ways to fill those gaps to help prepare young Canadians for the changing socio-economic realities of Canada and the global economy.”
- 15 per cent of all respondents self-identify as Canadian of Asian descent.
- 29 per cent of Generation Z (18 to 24 years) identify as Canadians of Asian descent, compared to less than 6 per cent of respondents aged 55 and above.
- Across the survey, Canadians of Asian descent report higher interest and awareness about Asian culture, languages, and current events and express warmer feelings toward Asia.
- Younger Canadians (under 34) are generally more interested in learning more about Asia, but more than 50 per cent of all respondents say they are interested or currently engaged in learning more about Asian cuisine, history, or tourism.
- 70 per cent of all respondents say they had too little or no exposure to Asia in their high school education.
- Among respondents interested in learning about Asia, 46 per cent said an increased emphasis on teaching about Asia in the Canadian education system would effectively build awareness about Asia and Asians.
- 13 per cent of Canadians have conversational fluency in at least one Asian language.
- Among respondents who can speak an Asian language, 70 per cent know Cantonese or Mandarin (Chinese), about 21 per cent speak Hindi, and 15 per cent speak Punjabi.
- When asked about languages, Canadians would like to learn the most besides English or French, Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese (12 per cent), and Japanese (6 per cent) are the second and fourth top choices, behind Spanish (46 per cent) and Italian (8 per cent).
- 70 per cent of Canadians think technology and innovation in Asia will positively impact Canada’s future, 62 per cent think the same for immigration from Asia, 58 per cent for the influence of Asian cultures and traditions on Canada, and 57 per cent for economic growth in the Asian region.
- Almost half of Gen Z and Millennials believe it is “important” or “very important” to understand Asian society and culture for Canada’s future economic growth and social diversity, compared to about 35 per cent of the two older generations.
- Notably, twice as many Canadians of Asian descent think understanding Asia is “important” or “very important” for Canada’s future economic growth and social diversity compared to the rest of the respondents.
A multiple-award winning journalist, Fabian Dawson is an internationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and media expert. His work over the last four decades spans the globe and he also serves as a consultant/strategic advisor to a variety of international companies. As deputy editor-in-chief of The Province, part of the Postmedia chain, Dawson led initiatives within a special publications group to provide directed content for a variety of organisations. He was named the 2019 recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at Jack Webster Awards. Dawson has been invited by the governments of India, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the United States to act as a media observer/advisor on a variety of Asian-Canada issues. Dawson, now operates FD Media, which specializes in harnessing editorial assets to revenue generating opportunities.