“Diversity: Our Strength” : South and East Asian immigrants’ ethnic identity in the Greater Toronto Area

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Title: “Diversity: Our Strength” : South and East Asian immigrants’ ethnic identity in the Greater Toronto Area
Author: Lurye, Polina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Maailman kulttuurien laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of World Cultures
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för världens kulturer
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2016
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201603071254
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Area and Cultural Studies
Alue- ja kulttuurintutkimus
Region- och kulturstudier
Abstract: This Master’s thesis examines the history of Canadian immigration policies from the beginning of the 20th century until 2014, giving specific attention to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This Area is currently the most popular destination for immigrants in the country and population of immigrant descent is expected to become the majority in this region. The increase in its’ population is connected with the growing number of immigrants from South and East Asia and the thesis research focuses on this group of immigrants. Social identity theory acts as the major theoretical foundation of the study. Canada is considered a country with one of the best immigrant integration policies in the world. Those policies mean that the country has chosen integration as the official immigrant acculturation strategy, thus, immigrants can retain their ethnic identity without being pressured to become more Canadian. They should be able to retain their language, culture, values and beliefs if they want. The results provided on the basis of the collected data show that the majority of immigrants retain their ethnic identity, which means that immigrant integration policies are successfully adopted in the GTA. Most questionnaire respondents also have either positive or neutral views towards immigrant integration policies, which supports Canada’s claim to deliver integration services to immigrants and preserve ethnic diversity of the country’s immigrant population. Using the material collected through the questionnaire answered by immigrants residing in the GTA and through 6 interviews with the employees working in multicultural centres in the GTA, this thesis studies the major factors that influence immigrant ethnic identity, its’ retention or loss. Altogether, the information from 45 questionnaire responses is analyzed. The interviewees work in the centres that have a significant number of clients of South or East Asian descent. The main factors influencing immigrant ethnic identity, according to the questionnaire, are language, culture, ethnicity, family ties, nationality, and education. The information provided by the interviewees supports this data. The interviewees also expain the role of gender and age in the integration process and the reasons why women and children of immigrant descent tend to integrate quicker into the society in the GTA. For children the main reasons are related to their intellectual abilities and a high degree of involvement in the social life through activities at educational institutions. Integration of women is connected with their empowerment and a higher level of gender equality than in South and East Asian countries. Other factors, including religion and race, according to the collected data, do not have a significant impact on immigrant ethnic identity or their integration despite the claims made by anti-immigration groups in the GTA. This research highlights the fact that a number of areas related to the implementation of multiculturalism policies are open for further research in order to enhance the success of immigrant integration both in Canada and abroad.
Subject: Canadian immigration
ethnic identity
immigrant integration

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