A look at Canadians of Arab origin and the Arab world.
Text: André Mercier
BACK THERE . . . HERE . . . ELSEWHERE
The first Arab immigrants arrived in Canada in the late 19th century.
Starting in 1960,immigration increased and became more regular.
Today,275,000 Canadians of Arab origin,or one percent of the population,
inhabit every region of Canada.
A TERRITORY GREATER THAN CANADA
Cartography: Philippe Audette,
The Arab world extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.
It is composed of two major regions:the Maghreb (Setting Sun)and
the Machrek (Rising Sun).
Its vast territory is woven from 21 countries inhabited by
275 million people,or nine times the population of Canada.
Despite the omnipresence of the desert,in this part of the world the landscape
changes continuously,from oasis to forest to seaside to mountains.
Most inhabitants live in fertile regions.
A CRUCIBLE OF CIVILIZATIONS
Photo: Aïda Kaouk
Arab territory has been travelled and inhabited since time immemorial.
Illustrious civilizations have developed there:
The three major monotheistic religions were born there:
- Carthaginian . . .
Throughout the centuries, a multitude of peoples, languages and cultures
have rubbed shoulders there,influenced each other, intermingled.
A SINGULAR AND PLURAL WORLD
Cartography: Philippe Audette,
Starting in the seventh century, Islamic expansion laid the foundations
of identity in the Arab world.
For nearly a thousand years,the Arabic-Moslem civilization expanded and flourished.
It enriched itself from the cultures it absorbed.
It propelled the arts and sciences to levels never previously attained.
It exerted a marked influence on Europe.
Today,the Arabic language and Moslem religion remain cohesive factors
in the Arab world.
But plurality still continues. Many Arabs are Jews or Christians.
Several languages, handed down from ancient or recent history, co-exist with Arabic:
A WORLD UNDER STRESS
Throughout the past centuries,the Arab world has been subjected to colonial domination.
Foreign powers continually carved up the map of the region to suit their
This has led to grave political crises, some of which continue to fuel conflicts.
Most Arab countries are now independent. But the conflicts that flare
up or persist and are tied as much to internal factors as they are
to external ones remain a threat to civil populations.
Human, social and economic development is therefore compromised in a
number of countries.
As a result, many Arabs look elsewhere for a welcoming land that will
further their own development and that of their children.
A PAST WITH A FUTURE
Photo: Ali Kichou
Reflecting the world from which they came, Canadians of Arab origin
carry with them many landscapes, many cultures, many countries.
This intermingling, acquired through interest or necessity, is a form
of wealth that Canadians of Arab origin can share with all of their
This multiple heritage, a legitimate desire for a better life, an
openness to the world - all are rich assets for development within a
Canada that has become increasingly cosmopolitan.