Heritage languages in Toronto

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In the Canadian context, a heritage language is someone's mother tongue that they still understand and that is not one of Canada's official languages.

This page describes the ethnolinguistic vitality[1] of several heritage languages spoken in Toronto,[2] focussing on demographic information, resources for language learners and speakers, and information about the status of each language. Demography is the study of the population, its characteristics and distribution in a given area. Status can be understood as the reputation or the importance of a linguistic group within a society, addressing the question, "What kind of role does a particular heritage language play in Canadians' lives in Toronto?" Institutional support for learners and users of the language allow these languages to maintain viability.

Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in Canada with over 43.3% of people reporting that they can speak one or more languages, other than English or French. At least 163 heritage languages are spoken in Toronto's numerous immigrant communities.[3] 28% of residents reported that they regularly speak a language other than English at home. The proportion of people in Toronto who have mother tongues other than English has been increasing in recent years.[4] The ethnolinguistic vitality of 9 of Toronto's vibrant heritage languages is described below.


Heritage Ukrainian


Bloor West Village, the historical Ukrainian epicentre.

The Ukrainian ethnic population of Toronto was first established at the start of the 20th century when immigrants moved into the area of what is now known as University Avenue, College Street, Queen Street and Yonge Street. A second Ukrainian region within Toronto was later established in The Annex after the Second World War. In the 1970s and 1980s, Bloor West Village on Bloor Street in between Jane Street and Runnymede Street saw a very strong presence of the Ukrainian ethnic group, either as first-generation, second-generation or third-generation immigrants and today remains the stronghold of Ukrainian ethnic presence. Today, there is a shift westward of Ukrainian-Canadians towards Etobicoke and Mississauga.[5] The Islington-City Centre West neighbourhood has the largest number of speakers who listed Ukrainian as their mother-tongue, totalling 1,560 people as of the 2011 census.[6] As of now, there are 100,000 people living in the Toronto area with some sort of Ukrainian ethnic background.[7]


Toronto is home to one of the largest ethnic Ukrainian populations in Canada alongside Winnipeg and Edmonton, that has a population of over 130,000 Ukrainian-Canadians as of 2011.[8] As of the 2011 census, there are 15,640 people in Toronto that speak Ukrainian as their mother tongue, an approximately 10% decrease from the 2006 census. Meanwhile, as of the 2011 census, there are 7,630 people in Toronto that speak mainly speak Ukrainian at home, also an approximately 10% decrease from the 2006 census.[9] In Toronto, along with the traditional Ukrainian language, the Canadian-Ukrainian dialect which has been in Canada for decades is commonly used and taught as a result of generational changes.

St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 400 Bathurst Street.

Institutional Support

Religious Centres

In 1915, when Ukrainians first arrived in Toronto, the first Ukrainian-Orthodox church was built and with the increase in Ukrainian population over the decades, several other places of interest opened.[10] Religion is a very important aspect of the Ukrainian culture that compliments language, as a result there are many Ukrainian-Orthodox Churches and Ukrainian-Catholic Churches. Churches such as the St. Volodymyr's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral by Kensington Market, offers a place of worship and a Sunday school, Ukrainian language school, and Music school for children.[11]


St. Vladimir Institute at 620 Spadina Avenue across from the University of Toronto is a prominent example of a cultural centre in the city. The library contains a wide collection of Ukrainian literature, art, history, film, and music, and the institute contains a residence for students as well as classes on cooking, adult language and art. The institute is designed to be a centre catering to both Ukrainians and other Canadians alike.[12] The Ukrainian Museum of Canada Ontario Branch at St. Vladimir Institute offers a wide collection of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian artifacts from the past and present.[13] Similarly, the Toronto Ukrainian Festival on Bloor West Village is the largest Ukrainian street festival in North America. It occurs every year in September for 3 days and showcases a wide variety of Ukrainian culture, language, music and art to over 300,000 visitors.[14]

Statue of Vladimir the Great at the St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has a strong presence in Toronto and represents the Ukrainian-Canadian community and acts on their behalf to the Government of Canada. The Congress has 40 member organizations that are separate entities who represent the Ukrainian-Canadian population through a wide range of interests.[7] The Ukrainian Canadian Social Services moves to provide social services to the Ukrainian-Canadian community and host classes that support the survival of the Ukrainian culture and language within the city.[15]

Preliminary and Secondary Institutional Support

Within the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the St. Josaphat Catholic Elementary school at Long Branch, the St. Demetrius Catholic School, and the Josyf Cardinal Slipyj Elementary school in Etobicoke have strong Ukrainian language, culture and Catholic religion programs for young students who have inherited Ukrainian as their heritage language.[16]

Post-Secondary Institutional Support

The Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at the University of Toronto is found at Alumni Hall, at St. Michael's College.

Universities across the Greater Toronto Area have Ukrainian student associations or clubs as well as language courses. The Ukrainian Student's Club at the University of Toronto aims to represent ethnic Ukrainian students at the university and help connect these students with the rest of the Ukrainain community within Toronto; this is done through educational sessions and community gatherings where the Ukrainian culture and language is promoted and incorporated.[17] At the University of Toronto St. George campus, Elementary and Intermediate Ukrainian are offered as first and second year courses, and the school is the only post-secondary institute within the city to provide some sort of course on the Ukrainian language.[18] The Ukrainian Student's Club at Ryerson University aims to educate students at the university and get them involved and learning about the Ukrainian heritage. This is done by building a sense of community and including a diverse group of students within the club.[19] At York University, the Ukrainian Student's Club is "an association of students motivated by their cultural background to promote tolerance and understanding among various other ethnic groups through the prism of their own culture."[20] Each Ukrainian student association aims to promote the Ukrainian heritage and language by educating students from all different cultures by planning events and activities that suit all interests.


The Heritage Language Variation and Change Project in Toronto examines the inter-generational change of heritage language speakers of 8 languages in, one of which is Ukrainian. This project in progress has created a multi-language corpus and aims to ultimately evaluate cross-linguistic variables that may be different from English. To fully understand linguistic variation, this project compares the different speech, vocabulary, and grammar of specific heritage languages from first, second, and third generation speakers, to see the influence that the English language and other languages in contact with on these languages, as well as other ways that these languages evolve in their new home.[21]

Islington-City Centre West is now the most populated neighbourhood of Ukrainian speakers residing in Toronto.

As indicated in a study from 1980, first-generation Ukrainian-Canadians have retained their knowledge of the Ukrainian language very well. However, with later generations, the percentage of fluency and general knowledge of Ukrainian has decreased. In 1980, out of the second-generation speakers in Toronto, as well as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Montreal, one fifth of them were fluent in Ukrainian and less than one tenth were "completely clueless" about the language. This showed, however, that second-generation Ukrainians had retained fluency of the language better than their other foreign counterparts. In the third-generation, it was found that two thirds had retained some knowledge of the Ukrainian language which was double the percentage than that of third-generation speakers of ten other dominant heritage languages in Toronto and other Canadian cities.[22]

It has also been found in a 2011 University of Toronto study, that the influence of the English language in Toronto affects how Ukrainian is spoken through Voice Onset Time, the period between the stop burst and the onset of vocal fold vibration in word-initial "p", "t" and "k" sounds. In the English language, the voice onset time is shown be very long, while in Ukrainian it is much shorter. This study demonstrates how as the generations go by, voice onset time gradually got slower to the point where, by the fifth generation, the voice onset time was at a length comparable to the English language. The same trend was seen in the similar Slavic language of Russian.[23]

In addition, a 1987 study interviewing and observing Ukrainian speaking mothers and their children provides an outlook on maintaining Ukrainian in the future. Some mothers viewed Ukrainian to be the "emotive" language that would be used mostly at home and sometimes in the community when needed, while the "instructive" language would be English and would be used by the child at school full-time. These mothers expressed English to be the more important language as it does give the child future prospects, is the naturally spoken language in Toronto, and the language of education that the child must become accustomed to. This transition is especially noticed through the child's move from preschool to kindergarten where the "Ukrainian-only" home becomes less of a norm. The existence of English products and television also affects the child and their language development as they then become aware that English is a different language from Ukrainian.[24]

Heritage Cantonese


Cantonese is a popular language for those residing in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces in China, Southeast Asia and it is especially popular in Hong Kong.[10] The Cantonese language, also known as Yue (a form of Chinese),[10] can also be found in North American and other countries. There are around 65 million people around the world that speaks Cantonese either as their native language or as their heritage language.[10]

In 1992, Canada received a huge immigration tide from China and the majority were from Hong Kong,[25] hence the majority of the immigrants were Cantonese speakers. The reason for this immigration tide is the progressively unstable economic and political status in Hong Kong as a result of the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997.[25] Before the actual transfer of sovereignty happened in 1997, Hong Kong was known as "a British crown colony";[26] especially post-World War II, the British government provided a safe and nurturing environment for Hong Kong to thrive into a colony with successful and stable economic system.[26] Thus in August 1982, when a poll was conducted among the citizens of Hong Kong, 95% of the participants preferred to remain under British colonization [26] and 67% reported that the reunion of Hong Kong and China is "unacceptable".[26] Therefore, it is not surprise to see as the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong becoming more consolidated as 1997 approaches, some residents of Hong Kong would seek immigration as a solution.

In 2011, 97,660 people had immigrated to Canada and landed in Toronto from Hong Kong.[27] From 2001 to 2011 in Toronto, the immigration population from Hong Kong had decreased 12% .[27] The number of Cantonese speakers from mainland China that had immigrated to Toronto, Canada was not fully accounted for.


Chinese (including both Cantonese and Mandarin) has become the most spoken (as a mother tongue) heritage language in Toronto in the 2011 census report.[28] In Toronto, there is around 1.8 million citizens that speak an immigrant language that is the language most often used at home.[29] In that group of citizens, 8.8% (156,425 in total) of the people speak Cantonese.[30]

The huge wave of Hong Kong immigrants from 1992 were in the age range of 25 to 44 years old, and now in 2016, the first generation immigrants are now 49 to 68 years old.[25] Furthermore, two thirds of the Hong Kong immigrants from the 1992 immigration tide were married before they arrived in Canada.[25] After arriving in Canada, the Cantonese Chinese immigrants resided in Toronto Chinatown and also in Agincourt and Willowdale in Ontario.[31] The Cantonese Chinese immigrants also chose to reside in other northern areas in Toronto as well as Markham and Richmond Hill in Ontario.[31]

As of 2011, there are around 398,000 Cantonese immigrant speakers in Canada.[28] In Toronto, there are 38,255 males and 45,700 females (83,955 total) that state that Cantonese is their mother tongue.[28] There are 30,350 males and 36,865 females (67,210 total) that state that Cantonese is the language that is spoken most often at home. There are 8,570 males and 9,470 females (18,040 total) that state that Cantonese is the "other language" because there is also another language that is spoken at home more often or equally.[28] From the data that was collected by Statistics Canada, it is evident that a lot more people have grown up speaking Cantonese from early childhood, hence they stated that it is their mother tongue, whereas those that state that it was spoken most often at home and the "other language" at home might or might not have had Cantonese as their first language.

In the workplace, the 2006 Census for the non-official languages that are used in the workplace, over 73,232 people in total use Cantonese as the only language or one of the languages used in the workplace.[32] Almost 22,481 people stated that they only use Cantonese at their workplace, 21,912 stated that they mostly use Cantonese at their workplace and 28,839 stated that it was a language that was also used at their workplace.[32]

Institutional Support

The institutional support from the Canadian government plays an indispensable role in the development and vitality of the Cantonese language and culture.


CCCGT (Chinese Culture Centre of Greater Toronto)

CCCGT is a Chinese Culture Centre that aims at promoting Chinese culture and offering various community services for Cantonese speakers in Toronto.[33] Specifically, they hold various events for Cantonese speakers, such as strive dance challenge, Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) annual fundraising concert, as well as Shaolin Kung-Fu and Table Tennis Open House.[33] Moreover, they also hold various classes for both Cantonese and Mandarin speakers.[33] These classes range from culture and arts classes such as Chinese traditional Ink Painting class, to language classes such as Cantonese for English speakers Beginners, and so on.[33]

Cantonese opera actress and actor.

Starlight Chinese Opera Performing Arts Centre

Starlight Chinese Opera Performing Arts Centre, originally named Starlight Cantonese Opera (SCO), was established in 2000, and it was a cultural group organized by a group of Cantonese opera amateurs that were originated from Hong Kong.[34] They aimed to preserve, maintain, and introduce this cultural art in Toronto area, especially to the younger generations of heritage Cantonese speakers to help them develop a better understanding in their own culture.[34] They have organized annual performances in Toronto area such as the Flato Markham Theatre and the Leah Posluns Theatre.[34]


Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library at The University of Toronto is the largest research collection outside of Hong Kong and consists of 50,000 volumes and an expanding collection of audio and visual materials on Hong Kong and Canada-Hong Kong studies.[35] Featured collection includes Hong Kong Basic Law Portal, Art Collection, Hong Kong handover collection, and many more.[35] The library also provides a wide range of information and research services, including reference consultation, tours, presentations and so on.[35] The library also serves as an important bridge that links together University of Toronto and other external communities that involve Hong Kong immigrants.[35]


Various language programs are widespread within Toronto, and they have helped students (especially those who come from Chinese immigrant families) to raise the awareness of learning Chinese language and culture. Specifically, Cantonese courses are provided in various schools and are available in different levels of proficiency.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board offers Cantonese language courses in both open level and academic/university level to help students proceed in their acquisition of Cantonese according to their own language proficiency.[36]

The University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

The University of Toronto Continuing Study offers 12 different courses for Cantonese language.[37] Specifically, there are four different levels of Cantonese language courses for people who have no prior Cantonese knowledge.[37] These courses aims to teach learners vocabulary, tones, and grammatical structures in Cantonese to enable them to communicate in daily conversational context.[37] Moreover, there are three levels of translation courses that teach learners how to translate from Cantonese to English in the fields of law, literature, commerce and many more.[37]


Toronto supports the existence and development of churches that provide Cantonese-speaking services.[38] For example, Toronto Chinese Alliance Church provide services in Mandarin, Cantonese and English to satisfy the needs of people speaking different languages.[38]

Social Services

Canadian government also supports other social services for the Cantonese-speaking population.[39] Specifically, Cantonese-speaking service providers address settlement issues such as housing and English as Second Language (ESL) training, promote life-cycle associations such as youth camps and old people’s centres, and offer health, occupational and settlement services.[39]


In 1985, almost a decade before the immigration tide from Hong Kong in 1992 arrived,[25] research was conducted in the University of Toronto on Chinese students about their self-confidence in relation to English proficiency. The research population of this study was the Chinese undergraduate students in the years of 1981-1982 and 1982-1983, where 64% of those students were from Hong Kong, where the primary language is Cantonese.[40] It was revealed that Chinese students appeared to be more self-confident when they expressed themselves in English rather than Cantonese[40] because English was seen as a key/tool to self-actualization and success in Canadian society, whereas their heritage language (Cantonese) was seen as less important. In addition, despite the fact that these students occupy relatively significant status in society with their high level of education, they show little motivation in naming their children with Chinese names and teaching them Cantonese.[40]

Chinese broccoli, also known as kai-lan

As the year of 1992 arrived, a huge immigration tide from Hong Kong reached Toronto.[25] For the immigrants who arrived in 1992, 83.9% of the population had the education level of or higher than high school.[25] However, more than 50% of the immigrants did not receive a formal education in Canada.[25] Furthermore, four out of five people in the population were in the labour force.[25] With the majority in the labour force, it was expected that most of the Cantonese families would be in the middle or lower class in terms of economic status, but in contrast, the median household incomes were range from $25,000 to $50,000. A greater percentage of the group earns more than $50,000 a year, which was considered to be high income.[25] However, many of the new-comers were in crisis, to a large extent, the respondents were unable to realize the career goals they had held before coming to Canada.[25] In addition, two third of the population report that their current occupation differs from their pre-immigration profession and it is mainly due to language insufficiency and racial discrimination, which are the two main barriers to employment.[25]

By the year 2016, the Cantonese/Chinese Canadian plays a significant role in terms of socio-economic status.[41] With the large population of immigrants, the demand for special types of vegetables increases,[41] for example, greens such as bok choy, Chinese broccoli and eggplant.[41] With the increase in demand of Chinese vegetables, a grand consumer market emerges and farmers sees this as an opportunity for cultivating greater, fresher local abundance of Chinese vegetables. As a consequence, this strengthens the local economic in Greater Toronto Area.[41]

Heritage Mandarin


According to the 2011 Census, in Toronto, 45% of residents had a first language other than English or French. Among these people, 5% of them spoke Mandarin as their mother tongue. People who speak Chinese regularly at home, including Cantonese and Mandarin, make up 7% of Toronto's population. Among those who speak a Chinese language, 37% speak Cantonese, while 28% speak Mandarin. Since 2006, Mandarin as a home language has increased 32% while Cantonese as a home language has decreased 11%. This data shows that Mandarin is the fastest growing home language in Toronto. There are still more Cantonese speakers than Mandarin speakers in Toronto. However, the number of Mandarin speakers will soon surpass the number of Cantonese speakers. In the Greater Toronto Area, York Region had the most people that speak Mandarin as their home language.[42]

Chinatown in Toronto

Furthermore, 33% of immigrants in Toronto were newcomers, meaning that they arrived in Toronto between 2001 and 2011. Mainland China is one of the most common countries of children of immigrants in Toronto. 7% of all immigrants’ place of birth was China, which also makes Chinese one of the three largest visible minority groups in Toronto. The trend for people that are from Mainland China to concentrate in Toronto is likely to continue in the future as new immigrants tend to settle in the city's metropolitan area.[43]

Institutional support

UTFUN Organization

There are many institutions in Toronto where Mandarin as a heritage language can be developed. Such institutions include Mandarin language schools and the Chinese Student Associations at universities and colleges across the city. There are some schools that have Mandarin courses, mainly located in the area of Chinatown that provide heritage speakers and the general population of all age groups an environment to learn Mandarin. The Toronto Chinese Academy (TCA) is a language school located in Chinatown that offers different levels of Mandarin classes.[44] There are many Chinese children who are unable to speak Chinese because they were born in Canada, therefore a language school can help them obtain skills in learning Mandarin. In particular, EAS100Y1 is a course at The University of Toronto, which teaches modern standard Chinese. It is for students that do not have a background in Mandarin.[45]

Clubs in institutions of higher education, such as Chinese student associations, are also a place where people can speak Mandarin with each other. There is the UTCSSA (University of Toronto Chinese Student Association), UTCUA (University of Toronto Chinese Undergraduate Association), UTFUN Organization and other clubs that are free for students at the University of Toronto to join. Each club holds over 5 events every year and all strongly encourage members to speak Mandarin.

RBC Event


Due to the rapidly increasing number of Mandarin speakers in Toronto,[46] the ability to speak Mandarin is in high demand in the job market in Toronto. Examples of such jobs include interpreters, bank representatives, investment advisers, retail sales associates, etc.[47] Oftentimes, these positions require bilingual or even multilingual skills - the ability to speak English, Mandarin/Cantonese, and French. One can notice that there is often a "Mandarin Chinese" language option on the display screens of bank ATM machines and other customer service devices in Toronto. As of 2009, Interac signed a deal with China Unionpay, the dominant Chinese bank card network whose members have issued nearly 2 billion cards, that will make it easier for the card holders of those cards to take money out of bank machines in Canada with their Chinese debit cards. All of these services will be displayed in Mandarin.[48]

Many banking services and retail industries aimed at the Mandarin speaking communities frequently add a Mandarin touch to their advertisement campaigns. The use of Mandarin in Toronto is easily spotted. There is often a Mandarin translation under advertisements of various products and services, such as cosmetics, auto industries, insurance companies, etc. A lot of companies also offer a Mandarin version of their official webpage, a new shift from the English/French language option.

Heritage Spanish

History of Spanish in Toronto

The majority of Canada's Spanish speakers are relatively recent immigrants who come from El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Nicaragua. The Canadian Immigration Act of 1952 helped many Spanish speaking people (mainly from South America) enter Canada. The Canadian Immigration Act was intended to remove complications from the immigration process. In practice, the act ended up streamlining immigration for many people.[4] This also means that the majority of "heritage" Spanish speakers in Toronto have lived in the city for only a few generations. The influx of Spanish immigrants in the 1950s mainly came to Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Today, these cities still have the highest concentration of Spanish speaking people in Canada. In Toronto, there is a particularly high number of immigrants from El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, and Mexico.[2] The Spanish speaking community in Toronto is growing and thriving.

Kensington Market became a go-to place for the Hispanic community, as it has been for many other communities throughout Toronto’s history, and by the 1980s, a dense population of Latin American descent was established along Bathurst Street, between College and Bloor Street, and today, this community expanded northwards in the Jane and Finch area. The Spanish speaking influence in this area is mainly expressed in Spanish restaurants and bars. Some of these establishments incorporate fusion style cuisine which incorporates Latin American influence as well as Canadian/North American flavours.

HIspanic restaurants in Kensington Market

Demographics of Spanish in Toronto

The majority of Spanish speakers in Canada are located in the city centres of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver[49] In 2011, 70,760 people, or 2.2% of people in Toronto () consider Spanish their mother tongue which makes Spanish the 5th most spoken non-official language in Toronto behind Chinese, Punjabi, Italian, and Tagalog.[49] Even though the Spanish-speaking community in Toronto is a good size, it is small in comparison to other ethnic communities within the city. For example, the size of Spanish-speaking neighbourhoods is smaller than Greektown, Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Little Portugal.

The Halton Region of the Greater Toronto Area has the highest proportion of people who speak Spanish regularly at home.[49] According to the 2011 census, 4,650 people in Halton speak Spanish at home. The density of Spanish speakers decreases significantly towards the centre of the city.

Institutional Support for Spanish in Toronto

With the arrival of the newcomers, there came a need to establish resources and institutions to help them adjust to their new lives. There are many cultural and Spanish language-oriented organizations in Toronto such as the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, the Hispanic Development Council, the Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre, and the North York Community House.

Latin American native speakers have settled in Toronto since the early 60’s and since then, have had to overcome many challenges to adapt to Toronto and its lifestyle.[50] This is why organizations such as Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, the Hispanic Development Council, Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre and the North York Community House have all been established in order to help the Spanish newcomers to overcome the hurdles of life in the city of Toronto. They provide the Latin American people with advice as well as with finding jobs and education.

According to the TCDSB (Toronto Catholic District School Board), there is a special program called the "Heritage Languages" program which was put in place in 1977 by the Ministry of Education of Canada for international students. Because of this program, the Spanish-speaking population is able to gain an education about as well as practice their heritage language.

There are several social institutions that help with the preservation of the Spanish language. Such institutions that are provided for the general public of Toronto, include the churches of St. James and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Besides churches, the city of Toronto offers social institutions such as community centres, and non-profit organizations. The main objective of such facilities is to help newcomers with their necessities, such as housing, translators, educational workshops, youth programs, work resources, and volunteer opportunities. York Community Centre, and CSSP Non-Profit Organization offer such services.

There are Spanish publications in Toronto such as El Centro and La Portada that link Spanish speakers in Toronto to their native countries. The news that is included in these articles are events in Canada and Latin American countries. There are also TV and radio stations that are offered in Spanish such as; TLN, Univision and 24 radio stations which broadcast Spanish music, events, and sports announcements. Here is a list of some of the Spanish Language Organizations in Toronto:

El Centro

El Centro is a Spanish newspaper based in Toronto that reports on Canadian affairs as well as the affairs of Latin American countries.

La Portada

La Portada is another Toronto-based Spanish newspaper. It focuses on reporting Canadian news to its readers. The name "La Portada" is after a natural stone arch monument off the coast of Chile.


Univision is a large American Spanish media company that broadcasts sports, dramas, news, and reality series. The programming is targeted to Spanish-speaking people in North America.

St. James Cathedral

The St. James Church is part of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. According to their website, the Church aims to provide a range of opportunities for people to deepen their understanding of Christian faith & life. The church offers video lectures and audio in Spanish and English as well as a variety of faith-based programs for youths.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the name of a Catholic church in downtown Toronto. Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic title for the Virgin Mary which is typically associated with a depiction of her the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The church located in downtown Toronto holds religious services in Spanish and is associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe School which teaches Spanish immersion to elementary school children.

Toronto Catholic District School Board

The Toronto Catholic District School Board offers programs and services for school programs and continuing education in a variety of areas. The school board subsidizes heritage language based activities and classes including some for Spanish.

Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples

The Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples is a non-profit, charitable organization that aims to help new immigrants from Spanish speaking countries. The organization includes support for Spanish speakers through youth programs, volunteering opportunities, and AIDS prevention programs.

Hispanic Development Council

The Hispanic Development Council is a non-profit organization that promotes the interest of Spanish speaking youth in Canada. The council accomplishes this by hosting events Spanish social, cultural, and sporting events.


This organization, also known as Telelatino, is a Canadian-based specialty TV channel that broadcasts news, sports, and other programming in Italian and Spanish.

Voces Latinas

CHHA (Voces Latinas) is a Spanish radio station based in Toronto. It broadcasts a variety of content with the aim of providing a forum for Latin American community in Toronto to express itself. The station broadcasts content that revolves around political decisions, immigration, new laws, and social issues.

York Community Centre

The York Community Centre is a facility in Toronto that offers resources for children and adults to learn and practice Spanish through community activities and language classes. The community centre also offers camps and athletic activities for younger children.

Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre

This organization is a community based non-profit multi ethnic agency. The centre provides a variety services to people in Albanian, Bengali, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish and Urdu. All of the services are culturally sensitive, free, and completely confidential.

North York Community House

The North York Community House is a community organization that provides programs for new immigrants to Canada, youths, and refugees. The goal of this organization is to streamline the transition to living in Canada and encourage community involvement and healthy living through the use of heritage languages, including Spanish.

Status of Spanish in Toronto

Kensington Market, one of Toronto's most diverse neighbourhoods, contains Spanish Influence

It is estimated that Spanish-speaking/Hispanic people migrated to Toronto during the 1960-70's.[51] When Spanish-speakers first came to Toronto, they mainly located themselves in the west part of Toronto. This has changed over the years. The increase in Hispanic immigrants has resulted in Spanish being in the top ten languages spoken in Toronto today.[2] Now, many Hispanic immigrants have established themselves along Bathurst Street, between College and Bloor Street.

A lot of the Spanish speaking community in the Toronto area has come in order to get a better education. In the 1990s, many Spanish speakers came to Toronto to attend university and increase their professional accreditation and language skills. Since then, a large portion have stayed in Canada, and have achieved Canadian citizenship. This has led to a significant portion of Spanish-speaking people active in city affairs, conferences and initiatives.[52]

Latin-American high school students are known to face bullying and discrimination which has an adverse effect on their education. This is why, despite having all these adaptations for the Latin American immigrants, there has been a shocking 40% dropout rate in Toronto.[52] According to a report conducted about the social lives of Latino high school students in Toronto many factors could account for this occurrence which are linked to the socio-economic status of Latin American families in Toronto.[51]

Furthermore, recent studies have proved that encouraging the use of Spanish as a first language in the school environment enables Spanish-native speakers as well as those from other generations to maintain their heritage language and excel in English. The use of Spanish, however, was not the main language spoken by the students. They were more prone to use English because it was a more effective way to communicate with their peers. Mutual understanding is facilitated by English language. However, learning a heritage language in parallel helps the student learn better in other areas of their life.[53]

Heritage Italian


Toronto was one of three main destinations for Italian migrants starting in the late 19th century, over the next one hundred years, many refugees would escape poverty and fascism to settle in Toronto. Part of what spurred the initial exodus was a series of failed reforms in the newly unified country which led to millions of people becoming homeless. Many of the Italian migrants were skilled when it came to construction projects whether it required building railways or working as stonemasons to construct new homes and facilities for a rapidly growing Toronto.[54] These settlers relied on an xenophobic system known as padrone which was a contractual labor system - it was more common in the United States but was frequently also applied in Canada. This was a system where foreigners would be recruited from all over the world to work, essentially for free. The word "padrone" comes from Italian, it simply means boss or manager.[55] The people who arranged for these migrants to come often took charge with paying for their workers to come to Canada and supplied them with equipment but otherwise the padrone system was rather unkind to the people working under it.

Italian spoken outside of Canada is different from the Italian spoken in Canada. When written Italian started to target the areas of various dialects, many emigrants were leaving Italy and found their home in places like Canada. During the time when they were leaving, regional Italians were being born. This meant that the Italians immigrating to Canada spoke a dialect of Italian. Studies of the language of Italian Canadians deal with two aspects of language contact: 1) lexical borrowings from English and 2) linguistic interference.[56] One definition of Italo-Canadian is:

Italiese, or Italo-Canadian, must not be regarded as a language separate from Italian; rather, it may be considered as a new dialect of Italian, or, better still, a continuum of idiolects, all of which share a large common core and mutually intelligibility, but which reveal the influence of English in an uneven manner, especially but not exclusively, in the lexicon (Clivio 1985:73)[56]


Canada's immigration policies have changed drastically over the course of the time period.[57] As a result, Toronto has become one of the most multicultural cities in the world.[58] In particular, Canada has welcomed many Italian immigrants throughout the years. Furthermore, Toronto is currently home to a majority of the Italian community in Canada. As of 2006, Ontario’s total population was 12,028,895, with the highest Italian population in Ontario (867,980).[59] Alberta had the second highest Italian population (82,015) and Nunavut having the least (125)[59]. In Ontario, 34 percent of the Italians took up residency in Toronto.[60] In addition, 17.6 percent of Italians settled in Montreal.[60] Italian became the fourth most common mother tongues in Toronto with 76,200 people speaking it daily.[61]

According to the 2011 census, there were approximately 35,025 people in Toronto that had Italian listed as their home language which was an estimated decrease of 21 percent since 2006.[62] In Toronto, Italian was one of the top 4 main non-English languages spoken at home along with Spanish, Tamil and Tagalog.[62] The 2011 census also states that out of the total amount of 35, 025 individuals that speak Italian regularly at home, they make up around 15,120 males and 19, 910 females.[63] This goes to show that more females speak Italian regularly at home than males.

Languages in Toronto spoken at home [63]
Detailed other language spoken regularly at home - Total population

excluding institution residents data (2011 Census)

Toronto, C

Ontario(Census subdivision)

Total Male Female
English 274, 495 133, 110 141, 390
French 24, 715 11, 135 13, 580
Italian 35, 025 15, 120 19, 910

Institutional Support

University of Toronto campus

The Italian culture in Canada is preserved and maintained with much support from institutions. For instance, there are many institutional groups made available for the Italian community. Local libraries with the Toronto Public Library provide programs that involve the learning of Italian language, music, and culture. There has also been a growth in the curriculum that now maintains the stability of Italian studies in Canada.[64] This allow more students to enroll in courses teaching Italian. One such example is shown at the University of Toronto, where there is a department for Italian that enhances the educational opportunities for those students interested in learning Italian.

The neighborhood of Little Italy in Downtown Toronto specifically showcases and preserves the Italian culture within the city and is historically the Italian stronghold of Toronto. The Italian community is able to find pride in their culture through their involvement with and inside of Little Italy which supports ethnic Italians as they live here. The author of the journal, "Creating Italians in Canada" Gabaccia, mentions the Columbus Centre in Toronto that seeks to support immigrants from Italy. Furthermore, it mentions the Canadian Center for Italian Culture and Education, which is a "campus" of cultural and recreational facilities, daycare centers, and cultural programs, where programs and classes have been organized in order to meet the needs of Italian Canadians.[65]

Little Italy in Toronto.

The Italian language is considered to be quite pleasant sounding to many non-native speakers thus there are many people in Toronto who will seek out Italian language media, products or facilities regardless of whether they speak the language or not. One such institution where people go to learn how to speak Italian is the Istituto Italiano Di Cultura (also known as the Italian Culture Institute) which is actually part of a larger franchise with some 50 locations spread around the world. Torontonians, regardless of whether they speak Italian or not, can visit the location on 496 Heron Street.[66] Unfortunately, despite the linguistic diversity of Toronto, most schools only use either French or English as the languages of instruction throughout elementary and secondary school. However, some Catholic Schools in the Greater Toronto Area have a program where Italian or other Heritage languages can be taught after school. If enough people request that their children be taught the language during ordinary classes, the school-day will be lengthened to accommodate the program which is called the International Languages Program.[67] It is very important to note that this program only exists for children in Elementary school, prospecting secondary or college students will need to rely on a foreign exchange program if they wish to regain their lost heritage.


Map of Little-Italy

Italian Canadians represent one of the largest 'ethnic' communities in Toronto. Italians hold the highest concentration at 429,690 in Toronto.[68] Both Italian and Chinese are claimed as an ethnic origin by the largest numbers of Torontonians. Although Italian-Canadians show different patterns of language shift, Italian-Canadians report a strong sense of ethnic belonging and sustain frequent contact with relatives in their respective countries of origin.[69]

The needs of Italian immigrants in Toronto changed in response to their cultural and political climate. Their struggle with identity as new Canadians led them to join political currents that provided them with control and confidence. Although Fascism was popular in Toronto, it was defeated in Toronto just as it was overseas. As a by-product, Italian immigrants joined the push for the acceptance of cultural pluralism that would lead to the establishment of official Multiculturalism in 1971 and would eventually allow them to find acceptance and respect as ‘Italian-Canadians’.[70]

For many Italians in Toronto, Italian is not a native language nor an effective one as English is primarily used. However, dialects have remained strong due to the fact that there are large areas in Toronto with a high concentration of Italian and where intermarriages, and local Italian-language media reinforce the heritage language.[71] An example of an Italian-speaking district can be seen in Downtown Toronto, known as Palmerston-Little Italy. Certain dialects in every culture including Italian, do not hold the power of being the official language but according to Vizmuller-Zocco, the dialect that is used in Toronto which is named Italo-Canadian gives dignity to the dialect that was previously unknown. Italo-Canadian has a variety of dialects and in Siegel's terms, does not hold a single form, reflecting the diversity shown in Toronto.[71] Over a long period of time there has been constant shifts in the ideas of status and dialect. For instance, the growing use of Italian varieties such as "popular Italian," also called "neo-standard," was once seen as socially inferior but now is used by many Italian-Canadians.[72]

The Ethnic Diversity Survey asked Canadians how strong their sense of belonging was to their ethnic or cultural group(s). Half of the populations aged 15 years and older indicated that they had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group. Sense of belonging to one's ethnic group varied, not surprisingly, by specific ethnic ancestries. For example, 56% of Italians reported a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group.[2]

Italian-Canadian Youth

Young Italians living in Toronto have to get past the stereotypes that are places on them by other ethnicities as well as by their own fellow Italians in their community. For the youth, being Italian-Canadian means moving beyond the stereotyped "Gino/Gina", meaning a "young, accented English-dialect speaking, label wearing, loud, nouveau riche, Woodbridge Italian-Canadian."[72] Being called such a stereotype does not hold a positive image for some Italian-Canadians. In one study among Italian youth, it was found that during a linguistic game, a participant who claims to speak only Italian or English copies expressions and idioms from his or her friend's dialect showing that urge to maintain the friendship tie.[72]

Heritage Korean

Front view photograph of the New City Hall. The sign with a variety of colors represent the highly multicultural city of Toronto.

History and Current Demographics

The Korean language is most commonly used in the Korean peninsula, which for centuries, was culturally influenced by China. During the early 20th century to mid 20th century, the country faced Japanese colonization. After World War II, Korea was divided into Communist North and Capitalist South, which led to the Korean War. The post war period saw remarkable growth in South Korea. These changes heavily influenced the Korean language.[73]

Canada is known widely for its diversity and multiculturalism. Among the population of 2,790,000 half of the population (1,237,720) are immigrants born outside of Canada. More than 140 different languages and dialects are spoken in Toronto and over 30% of the population speak a language other than the official languages-English and French.[74] Within the broad mosaic of ethnicity and cultural backgrounds that make up Toronto, Koreans have been a subject of interest.

The first Korean immigrant to set foot in Canada was Tae-yon Whang. In 1948, the mission-sponsored intern settled in the Metropolitan area of Toronto. The first non-student Korean to immigrate to Canada, Ch'ung-lim Chon, also settled in Toronto with his family of four in 1962. Following that, 4000 visas were issued by Canadian immigration officials to Korean citizens. These 4000 Koreans in turn formed the core beginnings of the Korean community in Ontario. Since then, there has been a steady increase in Korean immigration to Canada.[75]

Toronto Korea Town

Throughout the 1970s, there was a noticeable increase in Korean immigration, in which a majority of the immigrants settled in Toronto. In a survey done in 1986, it was determined that 10,380 people in Toronto alone claimed Korean as being their first language.[75]

Markham Street

Before having any contact from the West, Korea's main religion was Buddhism. It was after World War II that Christianity began to blossom. Furthermore, the aftermath of the Korean War (1950 - 1953) caused the United States to become involved in Korean politics and economics, which also allowed the number of Christians to increase rapidly.[76] During this time period, Canadian Missionaries came to Korea to aid the Koreans, who were suffering from poverty as a result of the war. According to the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2004, 52% of Koreans were Christians, whereas only 46% were Buddhists.

The first Korean diplomatic mission to Canada was formed in 1963. During this time period, the Canadian government was accepting laborers who were skilled immigrants, while the Korean government was encouraging emigration. As a result, many Koreans were able to immigrate to Canada. The rising Korean population became clearly noticeable in the 1970s. The unstable government, the Korean student movement, and other events caused the second wave of immigration.[77] By the end of 1989, the Korean population in Ontario, as estimated by the Korean Consulate, was approximated to be around 35,000. According to a census done by the Federation of Korean-Canadian Associations, 25,000 of the 35,000 were living in Toronto.[78]

As of the year 1994, there was approximately 50,000 - 60,000 Koreans living in the country of Canada. The majority of this group of Koreans have settled in some of the major cities across Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. There are no accurate statistics pertaining to the population of Korean immigrants in Toronto due mainly to the fact that the Immigration Department of the Federal Government has not kept any statistics on Korean immigrants. It should also be factored into account that the Immigration Department of the Federal Government incorporated the statistics for Koreans into the larger group of Asians in their record accounts.[75][78]

Institutional Support

There is a wide range of organizations and cultural communities located in Toronto that support the education of Korean language. Below are a few institutions listed that are located in Toronto:

Korean-Christian Churches

There are a total of 80 Korean-Christian churches, 1 Korean-Catholic church, and 2 Buddhist temples in Toronto that offer bilingual instruction. These churches offer Korean language classes, in which one hour between church activities is devoted to teaching the Korean language and culture.[78]

Korean Y.M.C.A.

As well, there is the Korean Y.M.C.A., an organization that is aimed at educating Korean youth, adults, and elders through various Korean Heritage Schools located in the major cities of Canada. These schools exist to teach second-generation Koreans the Korean language. The Korean Y.M.C.A. also provides service for elders, and English classes. In 1991, there were 35 Korean Heritage Language schools located in Ontario, offering 85 different classes, and had an enrollment of more than 1,100 students. 16 of the 35 schools are located in Toronto. These Heritage Language Programs consisted of 1-4 classes each with 20-70 students. 2 and a half hours was dedicated each week to this program.[75][78]

Korean School Association

The Korean School Association is made up of the organization of teachers who teach Korean Heritage Language Schools. Throughout the year, they host various events such as the "Korean Speech Competition" and the "Korean Writing Competition".[75]

The Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library of the University of Toronto

The University of Toronto

In 1979, the first collection of Korean books at the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, within the University of Toronto, was donated by the Korean Research Foundation in Seoul of Korea. The collection was then grown simultaneously with the Korean programs in the University.[79]

The Foundation for the Support of Korean Studies at the University of Toronto is a Korean department that is dedicated to teaching traditional Korean culture and education. Later in the 1980s, this foundation invested $100,00 to purchase a large quantity of Korean research-related materials for the East Asian library. They also provided various fundraising for the Korean Department. On top of the Korean language and culture classes offered at the University of Toronto, some high schools offer a Korean Heritage Language class that is counted towards a credit.[75][79]

The Korean Community Centre for Multiculturalism (KCCM) is a not-for-profit organization that was made in 1979 to develop education programs for Korean youths. These programs include various courses in the Korean language.[75]

Korean Culture Centre for Education

The Korean Culture Centre for Education (KCCE) is an organization aimed to expose children to both the Korean and Canadian culture. The KCCE allows second-generation Koreans to learn about their own heritage, people and nation while emphasizing the importance of multiculturalism in Canada. This is done through the teaching of traditional Korean children's games (which is targeted for young children) and ancient and modern Korean society for older students.[75]

Status and Second-Generation Language Maintenance

The dominant language of communication that is spoken throughout Toronto is English. The use of the Korean language is thus usually restricted to communication between parents and children.

In a study conducted by Young Gon Kim, a sample of Korean immigrants were studied in which 35% of the sample (N=100) were university graduates, and 62% were secondary school graduates. The majority of Korean immigrants in Canada have a high level of education and background. However, due to their lack of conversational English skills, they are unable to re-licence their educational achievements from Korea within Canada. The Canadian licensing do not officially recognize Korean degrees. As such, Korean immigrants must retake those university courses. However, doing so is costly and adds pressure onto their financial situations. Many Koreans are thus employed in cheap labour work (i.e. convenient store owners, fast food places, gas stations, motels, etc.). In the Metro Toronto area, 1000 stores are run by Korean immigrants. It is estimated that 85% of grocery and variety stores in Toronto are owned and/or run by Koreans. Korean parents are forced to work long hours doing cheap labour in order to support their children. Hence, many second-generation children are left alone at home and have less time conversing with their parents in their heritage language. This, in turn, lowers the motivation for second-generation children to learn Korean in their own comfortable home environment. This is reflected in the decline in knowledge of the Korean language, and practice of Korean culture and traditions by second-generation children.[78][80]

The main language spoken by second generation Koreans is English, and they regard English as their primary language.[78]

Another factor that deters second-generation Koreans to learn Korean is due to the level of difficulty. The Korean and English language are fundamentally different in grammatical structure. One such difference occurs in sentence structure where one consists of subject-object-verb, while the other comprises, subject-verb-object. It is understandable that second-generation Koreans would find it difficult to learn Korean if their mother tongue (English) is classified under a whole separate language family.[78]

P.A.T. Central on Bloor Street

Korean ESL high school students in Toronto faced difficulties due to their imperfect English. A high school student, who lived in New Zealand since Grade 8 for four years and then moved to Toronto, faced descrimination from her white peers, which made her lose confidence in speaking English. Furthermore, the negative memories caused her to distance herself from her white classmates and become friends with only Koreans and other international students. She would even notice one of her teachers smiling when talking to white students but ended up frowning whenever having to talk with Asian students.[81]

In the case of another Canada-born male Korean student, his life was only slightly different from the former's. Though born in Canada, he spent his childhood in Korea. As a result, his English was also imperfect. Like the student mentioned above, he found it difficult to interact with Canadians, and hung out with mostly Koreans for his social life.[81]

It is becoming increasingly common for children to respond in English to their parents who use Korean to speak to them. This is reflected in a study by Young Gon Kim in which 45% of parents use Korean to speak to kids, and only 20% of children use Korean to speak to parents.[78]

Heritage Japanese

Brief History

Japanese fishing boat being confiscated by Canadian officer

The Japanese immigration wave occurred under the influence of abundant resources in the Canadian fishing industry. Since fishing was the primary economic practices in Japan, 4,738 Japanese[82] have settled in Canada for the fishing industry by the year of 1901. These settlers worked to grant their family extra living incomes,[82] and after several years these settlers slowly starting companies focusing on fishing, lumbering and goods trading. By the year 1941, there were 23,149 Japanese[82] in Canada, of whom a large portion were second and third generation. With the outbreak of WWII, the relationship between Japanese speakers (including Canadian-born heritage speakers) and the Western society was broken. Following 1943, about 1,650[82] settled in Ontario following the "dispersal policy" for Japanese population. Although Toronto is "city with the most concentration of Japanese immigrants", the settlers tend to have a low residential concentration compared to the days before the WWII. However, immigration increased rapidly as government policy changed.[83] This implies that the usage of language is changing. As shown in Table 1, Statistic Canada has shown that by the year 2001, 97% of Canadian with Japanese origin can communicate in at least one official language of Canada, and within the 97% 89% Japanese could communicate in English while only 8% were bilingual[84] which means only 8% of the whole Canadian-Japanese population could speak their heritage language or another language. Also shown in Table 1, 55% of the Japanese population in Canada says that their mother tongue was no longer Japanese but English while 43% still reported that their mother tongue was Japanese[84] All of these data imply that the usage of Japanese as a heritage language is decreasing rapidly within Canada. This could eventually become a serious issue of the Japanese Community in Toronto. It is crucial to maintain the vitality of a language in order to maintain the community itself.

Table 1. Official Language and Mother tongue Usage of Japanese-Canadian in Canada 2001[84]
Converse Ability in Official Languages Mother Tongue
English 89% English 55%
Bilingual (Japanese) 8% Japanese 43%
French 0.5% Others 2%


Sakura blossom in Toronto Edwards Garden. Sakura are often seen as the symbol of Japan.

Nowadays, a large number of Japanese Canadian are marrying outside their own ethnic group in the GTA.[85] The resulting interracial marriages create a new group and a new generation of Japanese with less physical appearance similarity and cultural identification, especially regarding communication with earlier generations.[85] In fact, more and more, new generations of Japanese Canadian youths are rooting their experience in the environment they grew up in. The number of people reporting Japanese as their mother tongue in Toronto is only 6,230,[86] and, of these, only 2,955 practice Japanese at home.[86] By comparing this data to the total population of Japanese in Toronto (20,000),[84] the status of Japanese language are not in favor of growth or development in Toronto (refer to Table 2.). This may cause the status of Japanese and its vitality to fade. On the other hand, Japanese communities in Canada and Toronto are trying to maintain and enhance the status of Japanese by opening language school and organizing culture festival, a good example is the Japanese language school in Toronto and the Japanese Summer Festival in Toronto.

Table 2. Status of Heritage Japanese in Toronto
Population % of total population in Toronto
Japanese in Toronto 20,000
Japanese Mother tongue in Toronto 6,230 31.5%
Japanese been practiced at home in Toronto 2,955 14.8%


Classic Japanese Cuisine, very popular in the area of Toronto

Since Japanese immigration started in the early 1900s, speakers of Japanese are widespread.[83] However, in recent years, Japanese is not as well known and popular as other heritage languages such as Cantonese and Mandarin in Toronto. Recent data shows that Mandarin speakers in Toronto are almost 10 times more than Japanese speakers in Toronto.[87] The density of Japanese speakers is also very low in the Greater Toronto Area. Japanese has about the same amount of mother tongue speakers as Armenian, which is around 6,200,[87] but the population of Armenians in Toronto is much lower than Japanese. This implies that many second and third generations of Japanese choose to use English rather than their heritage language (refer to Table 1&2). This low density and decreasing usage of Japanese will slowly push the language into a danger zone, and should be a warning sign to its vitality.

The Japanese culture can be well observed in the GTA. Many Japanese run small and delicious Japanese restaurants, they use the same custom to receive the visitors, use the same indoor decorations to show their special culture, and they all generally speak some Japanese. However, since their population is widely distributed, it can be hard for the Japanese community center to try and gather people into small cultural and language sessions.

Institutional Support

St. Andrew Japanese Anglican Church located in Downtown Toronto

There are many community centres and language schools for Japanese located in Toronto such as The Japan Society Canada, Japanese UReach.Toronto, Nisshu Gakuin Japanese.Language School, Toronto Japanese School and many supplementary Japanese school. Macro factors such as demography, culture and societies contribute to the maintenance of the Japanese Heritage language. But for the second and third generations where these macro factors are not in favour, in order to maintain their heritage language, the micro factors play a critical role. Those factors include interactions among people, family members and attending institutions that provide support. These micro factors are especially helpful in maintaining and developing young students' knowledge of their heritage language and cultural background. Many Japanese institution such as the Toronto Japanese school offers heritage language classes. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Center offers cultural activities to better integrate new generations of Japanese-Canadian.


Attendance in Japanese Language School helps maintain second-generation’s heritage language and literacy.[88] On top of that, weekend school and other language schools provide further help with the development of Japanese beyond home practice. Although It is notable to parents that the influence by the school has greatly promoted the linguistic development of their children,[88] the parental role is still one of the most important factors affecting second-generation learners. A study conducted by Miwa Tonami reported that if parents view the development of heritage language as helpful and positive, it is more likely the child will keep learning and developing their heritage language skills.[88] Also, the consistent usage of Japanese at home will help the second-generation to better lay their foundation for further study of the language. A recent statistic analysis done by Statistic Canada shows that Japanese is not even ranked in the top 15 for Home language usage in Toronto,[89] and only 15% of the Japanese population in Toronto use Japanese to communicate at home.[84] Despite its population density, this implies that second or third generations tend to use English instead of Japanese to communicate with their family members.

Japanese Canadian Cultural Center

Compare to second generation, third generation Japanese speakers decreases dramatically.[85] Most third-generation Japanese speak English at all times, but they still face major challenges when it comes to ethnicity. One of the major issues faced by the third-generation Japanese heritage speakers is the conflict between their ethnic identity and the language they speak.[85] Since cultural background and linguistic knowledge can be viewed both as separate and interconnected, this brings difficulties to the third generation of identifying themselves in a multi-cultural setting. A study conducted by Okuno Aoi shows that whether third-generation identify themselves as Japanese, Canadian or Japanese-Canadian is highly dependent on personal characteristic, which implies third generation individuals will encounter different obstacles when identifying themselves.[85] Japanese communities are not targeting third-generation for learning their heritage language and cultural background, instead they focused more on the second-generations who still have direct connection with the language, as their parents can speak Japanese. This should be a message to the Japanese Community center and school in Toronto, where many Japanese-Canadian should be and can be learning more about their heritage language and cultural background.

Examples of Japanese Institutional support in Toronto
  • The Japan Foundation (Kokusai Koryu Kikin)

Originally founded in 1972 as a non-profit organization and then changed to an independent administrative institution established from the "Independent Administrative Institution Japan Foundation Law". It offers various programs with focus on Japanese Arts and Cultural exchange, Japanese Language Education and Japanese studies and Intellectual Exchange.[90]

  • Nisshu Gakuin Japanese Language School

A Saturday Japanese class foundation located in Toronto which focuses on training in Japanese listening, writing and reading with the equivalent level of curriculum taught in elementary schools in Japan. All classes are also taught in Japanese to encourage language-speaking.[91]

Organization established in 1949 that supports Japan - Canadian society by offering Japanese language and culture class to both children and adults. The school runs from September to June from 9:30 AM to 11:50 AM every Saturday morning.[92]

The Toronto Public Library is a government institution with many branches across Toronto. It offers information and media in English, but also in many other languages including Japanese. There are four branches of the Toronto Public Library with a labelled Japanese books and media section: Don Mills, Agincourt, Toronto Reference Library, and North York Central Library.

University of Toronto St. George Campus also offers a variety of East Asian language and culture courses to its

undergraduates. Japanese is one of the available language course provided by the faculty of Arts & Science in the department of East Asian Studies. The courses are categorized in level of fluent Japanese skills and are also provided in full year period and per semester (half of a school year) period. Courses also includes: Modern standard Japanese, Japanese I for students with prior backgrounds, summer Japanese in Japan, etc.[93]

There are also supplementary Japanese school and night language school courses for secondary school students.These language schools welcome Japanese Canadians but also others within the GTA. These institutions offer Japanese language and culture classes as an approach for maintaining Japanese Heritage Language.

Heritage Tagalog

Template:Cleanup rewrite The Tagalog community in Toronto comprises 62% of the Filipino population in Canada. In 2007, 140 000 Filipinos lived in Toronto, accounting for 3% of Toronto’s overall population.[78] According to the study conducted in 2001, 57% of the Filipino community were female.[94]


In 2001, 98% of Canadians of Filipino origin were born in the Philippines. Most immigrants of Filipino origin arrived in the past twenty years. In 2001, 53% of Filipino immigrants arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2000, and another 24% arrived between 1981 and 1990. However, only 4% arrived in the 1960s, and less than 1% came to Canada before 1961.[94]



Filipino Canadians are more likely than Canada's population, on average, to be either children or employed young adults and less likely to be retirees or seniors.[94]

Educational attainment

Canadian adults of Filipino origin are more likely than the rest of the population to have a university degree. In 2001, 31% of Canadians of Filipino origin aged 15 and over had either a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree. Canadians of Filipino origin with post-secondary qualifications are more likely to hold degrees in highly technical fields. In 2001, people of Filipino origin accounted for 2% of university graduates in Canada. In 2001, 33% of women of Filipino origin had a university degree, compared to 27% of their male counterparts.[94]


Most Canadians of Filipino origin are employed. In 2001, 72% of labour force participants of Filipino origin were employed. In the Filipino population, more men than women work outside the home. Canadians of Filipino origin constitute a high proportion of all those employed in both health occupations and in manufacturing. However, their representation was disproportionately low among the areas of management, education, politics, and the social sciences.[94]

Family status

In 2001, 51% of adults in the Filipino community were married. Canadians of Filipino origin are just as likely as the rest of the population to have single-parent status. In 2001, 6% of adults of Filipino origin aged 15 and over were single parents; most of which were women. In the Filipino community, women represented 88% of all single parents in 2001.[94]

Basilica del Santo Niño, which is considered the Mother and Head of All Churches in the Philippines.

Religious affiliation

Most Canadians of Filipino origin are Christians. In 2001, 81% claimed they were Catholic, while 15% belonged to either a mainline Protestant denomination or another Christian grouping. However, a relatively small proportion of the Filipino community, 3%, reported they had no religious affiliation.[94]

Institutional Support

Toronto Public Library

Previous censuses show that Filipinos in Toronto speak Tagalog more often than any other Philippine language, giving primacy to the Tagalog language on Toronto Public Library’s shelves.[95] Though Filipinos are the fourth largest visible minority group in Toronto (2008), the Toronto Public Library’s Tagalog items numbered fewer than 7000, or less than 1 percent of the Toronto Public Library’s entire multilingual collection in 2006.[95] In 2009, the Toronto Public Library had eight branches with Tagalog collections across Toronto. The larger Tagalog collections are found in neighbourhoods where there are more Tagalog speakers. The large collections at the Barbara Frum and Malvern branches are located near the intersection of several areas where many Filipinos live.[95] Based on physical examination of shelves and anecdotal evidence provided by staff at the Toronto Public Library branches with Tagalog collections, Tagalog paperbacks and melodramatic movies are borrowed more often than award-winning novels and films. Tagalog shows dominate Philippine television today, but Hollywood movies are much more popular than locally produced ones. With regard to Philippine music, Filipino singers are just as likely to perform Tagalog songs as English ones, and the titles of the songs they sing in concerts, on TV, and on their CDs reflect this reality.[96] There is a significant demand for Tagalog materials, though Filipinos who most often speak Tagalog at home are not as many as the English-speaking ones. However, Tagalog is not the language spoken or read by most Filipinos. This is especially the case for 63% of Filipinos in Toronto who speak English at home. The Philippines has 8 major languages and almost 500 dialects, but the language of its mass media are limited to English and Tagalog.[96]

Traditional Philippine music and dance.

Filipino Centre Toronto

The Philippines Consulate founded the Filipino Centre. This centre is the meeting place for many Filipinos. A library containing multiple Tagalog collections was recently established. The centre’s free medical clinic aids newcomers to Toronto, while its homework club for students caters to Filipino youth. A Tagalog class is open to Filipino children and Canadians who have interest in learning the language. Guest speakers from Basilica del Santo Niño often visit. The Filipino Singing Idol Contest showcases traditional Filipino music from the Spanish Era, while dance classes are available. The centre offers exercise programs for seniors.[97]

Kababayan Multicultural Centre

The Kababayan Multicultural Centre is a non-profit agency providing settlement services for Filipino newcomers to Toronto. The settlement program is funded by the three levels of the Canadian government: Federal, Province of Ontario and City of Toronto. Its mission is to support newcomer immigrants by providing settlement services, assisting the job application process, and addressing social barriers. Services are offered in English and Tagalog.[98]


Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, is one of the fastest-growing languages in Canada. In the period 2006-2011, Canadians who consider Tagalog their first language at home increased by 64%.[10] Most Canadians of Filipino origin can converse in one of Canada's official languages. In 2001, 99% said they could converse in one or both official languages, while 1% reported they could speak neither English nor French. Most, 93%, could carry on a conversation in English only, while 6% could converse in both English and French and below 1% spoke French only. In 2001, 59% of the Filipino community said that their mother tongue was a non-official language, while 41% said that their mother tongue was English and 1% said that it was French. 60% of the Filipino community considered Tagalog their mother tongue.[99]

Greater Toronto Area

According to the 2011 census, over 70 000 people in Toronto list Tagalog as their mother tongue. Tagalog is in the top 20 mother tongues listed in Toronto's 140 neighbourhoods[100] In 22 of those neighbourhoods, over 1000 people list it as their mother tongue. Tagalog mother tongue speakers are largely concentrated in neighbourhoods such as Scarborough and North York.[101]

Relations with Canada

According to the Ethnic Diversity Survey of the 2006 Canadian census, most Canadians of Filipino origin feel a strong attachment to Canada. In 2002, 78% of those who reported Filipino origin claimed they had a strong attachment to Canada. At the same time, 89% claimed they had a strong attachment to their ethnic or cultural group. Canadians of Filipino origin are active in Canadian society. In 2002, 73% of eligible voters reported doing so in the 2000 federal election.[94] Also, 41% reported that they participated in an organization such as a sports team or community association. However, one-third of Canadians of Filipino origin reported unfair treatment towards their race, language or accent. Majority (64%) of those who experienced discrimination reported a lack of employment equity due to their race or skin colour, and 69% claimed discrimination occurred in the workplace or job application.[94]

Heritage Russian

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According to the 2011 Census, the number of Toronto residents who consider Russian their mother tongue is approximately 36,950 (16,620 male, 20,325 female) which is 1.4% of the total population of Toronto (excluding those residing within institutions). The number of residents who speak Russian most often at home is approx. 26, 935 (a little more than 1% of Toronto residents) with 12,420 being male and 14,515 being female. 8,315 Toronto Residents consider Russian to be their secondary or other language spoken regularly at home (less than 1% of Toronto residents.) with 3,825 being male and 4,490 being female.

2011 Census (Toronto Russian speakers status)

Sex Mother tongue Spoken at home Secondary language
Male 16,620 12,420 3,825
Female 20,325 14,515 4,490


After 1918, a majority of a million Russians wishing to leave due to the revolution in their homeland thought to move to Canada. During the great depression and the second world war the immigration of Russians (as well as most immigrants.) was very little if any. It was only between 1948 and 1953 that Russians were able to immigrate to Canada, afterwards however immigration from Russia had since decreased.

The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church of Toronto

Institutional Support

The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church of Toronto

Though Russian Immigrants do send their children to regular English-based schools, some of the Russian community wishes to uphold their mother tongue for future generations and have decided to send their children or grandchildren to schools made by church groups and extracurricular activities after school to help teach Russian. One of the biggest such institutions in Toronto is the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church of Toronto. The holy trinity Russian orthodox church of Toronto (considered a landmark) was known for giving meals to many Russian workers returning from work as well as holding school lessons for children on weekends.


Many members of The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church of Toronto are also members of another notable institution: The Russian Canadian Cultural Aid Society (RCCAS), A Toronto institution that helps organize events for the Russian immigrant community, help new Russian immigrants settle in Toronto and cultivate the Russian culture and language within the city.


Many universities do teach Russian as a language but a well known institution for Russian studies is the Munk school of global affairs where there is a center for European, Russian and Eurasian studies, it sponsors students in an undergraduate degree in European studies and a master's degree in Russian. CERES annually organizes regionally focused seminars and also sponsors an undergraduate degree program in European Studies and a master's degree program in Russian.


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