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Manitoba

A Growing Community - The East Indian Influence in Winnipeg

The East Indian community has spread far and wide, reaching out from their original location to cover much of the world. There are now significant East Indian communities in almost every corner of the world, including sizable populations throughout North America. Canada is home to one of the largest East Indian communities in the region, with Winnipeg Manitoba home to one of the most significant populations of East Indians.

Canada has a long history of welcoming people of East Indian heritage. While Europeans still make up the bulk of the Canadian population, the influence of non-European minorities has been growing. Individuals of East Indian heritage now make up the largest non-European group in Canada, and the influence of their culture continues to grow.

As expected, the majority of East Indians living in Winnipeg Manitoba are foreign-born individuals. Throughout Canada the figure is about two-thirds, with similar figures found in the Winnipeg East Indian community. That does not mean, however, that the East Indians living in Winnipeg do not consider themselves Canadian. Indeed, while the East Indian community in Winnipeg treasures their heritage, they also strongly identify with their new homeland and consider themselves fully and proudly Canadian.

The influence of the East Indian community in the Winnipeg area is even more impressive considering the fact that Winnipeg is home to only a small percentage of the total East Indians living in Canada. Throughout the years, people of East Indian heritage have tended to congregate mostly in the most populous provinces - namely Ontario and British Columbia. A study conducted in 2001 found that a scant 2% of East Indians living in Canada made their home in Winnipeg. While those figures have certainly changed in the intervening years, it is safe to say that Winnipeg residents of East Indian heritage still represent a relatively small percentage of the Canadian East Indian community.

The vibrancy of the East Indian community within Winnipeg is all the more remarkable given its relatively recent history. Nearly half of East Indians living in the area arrived before the 1990s, while roughly another quarter of the community came to Canada between 1981 and 1990. Less than 10% of East Indians came to Canada in the 1960s, while only about 1% trace their Canadian citizenship to before 1961.

As the above numbers show, the East Indian community continues to grow within Winnipeg and the rest of Canada. While the East Indian community in Winnipeg was nearly nonexistent just a few decades ago, today it is a thriving part of the Canadian culture, contributing to everything from local cuisine to charitable endeavors.

East Indians living in Winnipeg Manitoba have also had a strong influence on the religious flavor of the province in particular and Canada in general. Individuals of East Indian heritage have assimilated well into Canadian life, using their skills, training and education to work and contribute to the economic success of their new homeland. At the same time, East Indians living in Canada have brought their cultures with them, building temples and religious sites and introducing their fellow Canadians to their religious history. Winnipeg is home to a number of Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist temples, as well as many Christian churches with strong East Indian congregations.

Many of the charitable contributions made by East Indians living and working in Winnipeg is centered in these religious communities. The temples and churches throughout the Winnipeg area are home to food and clothing drives, missionary work and other charitable endeavors, further proof that the East Indian influence on Canadian society is a positive one. As the population of East Indians continues to grow, that positive influence is expected to become even more important.