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Background: Thais in Canada

The first Thai people to arrive in Canada were a handful of students who came to study in the early 50s and returned home after their education was completed. Significant groups of Thais can therefore be found around Canadian universities that have continually received students from Thailand. Civil servants and students on Thai Government scholarship must return to repay their scholarship with service in the Government or with funding agencies. Few other Thais came to settle here between the 50s and 60s, gradually increasing over the decades. Recently in the 1990s, due to the financial crisis that struck the Thai economy, several professionals and middle class Thai searched for opportunities abroad, a few hundreds arriving to Canada each year since 2003.

Thai people living, working, studying, or visiting abroad tend to re-create important elements of their culture in their respective localities. Thai immigrants regularly express their desire to go back to Thailand. However, second generation Thai-Canadians usually adopt Canadian ways, maintaining their connection to Thailand only through their parents' strong relationship and memories of their native land.

Statistic Canada's 1991 census, there were 5,820 immigrants born in Thailand; 2,900 whose first language spoken at home was Thai; and 2,770 who claimed that they were of Thai ethnic origin. A reasonable estimate of the number of Thai in Canada is probably around 4,000. There may be about 1,000 Thais in Ontario, not counting the migrant laborers under special contract and students.

The media, tourism, Canadian overseas volunteer services and CIDA's aid programs all play an important role in keeping the relationship and mutual awareness between Thailand and Canada close. Even with a "non-visible" minority presence in Canada, the presence of Canadian-Thais is felt strongly through its projected cultural image through its Thai Buddhist temples (5 in total over Canada), Thai restaurants (around 30-50 in Toronto, please refer to our Thai Restaurant Directory, food festivals, traditional Thai dance and other cultural activities organized by Thai associations (4 major provincial associations and several university accredited student organizations).


Multicultural Canada (A Canadian Heritage project)
"Toronto's Many Faces" by Tony Ruprecht
Interviews with Thais in Toronto, reflections and web-surfing by Netnapit Tasakorn.

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