The Chinese Community in Canada and the United States

In Canada, most Chinese people live in Ontario and British Columbia. In 2001, nearly half of Canadians who reported being of Chinese origin lived in these provinces.

Across the country, Chinese immigrants developed self-reliant communities known as Chinatowns. They also founded many temples, social clubs and charitable organisations. These communities were vital in assisting newcomers to their respective cities.


The 1850s California Gold Rush drew men from southern China to work in mining, coastal fisheries and railroad construction. They were denied the right to bring their families because of American immigration laws, and they faced extreme racism and discrimination. Local Chinese formed the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to advocate for their rights and provide relief services.

Many Chinese immigrants have strong attachments to their homeland and practice a culture of remittance – sending money home to support family. They also have a reputation of being hardworking and thrifty, traits that help them thrive in the new world.

After the 1965 Immigration Act revoked the Chinese Exclusion Act and established quotas, most immigrants from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong began to settle in America creating distinct community identities. Today, Chinese Americans continue to build self-reliant communities that function as mini cities within their host communities. They form a wide range of professional, cultural and social organizations.


Chinese culture emphasizes loyalty to family and devotion to traditions. The philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are well integrated into daily life. Chinese people are also noted for their scientific advancements and competitiveness in business and sports.

Unlike the US, China is a very large country and its customs differ by region. There are 56 ethnic groups in China, with the majority being Han.

Throughout the country, Chinese immigrants established self-sufficient communities that became known to non-Chinese as “Chinatowns.” They have also created many institutions to promote and preserve Chinese culture. CCC members’ artists, chorus and dance groups have participated in cultural events at the Festival of Nations in Schenectady, the Albany Museum of Art & History and First Night in Saratoga as well as at SUNY, RPI, Siena College, Shaker High School and nursing homes. Groups of CCC members volunteer at the regional food bank, Literacy Volunteers of America, WMHT TV auctions and as guests in grade school social study classes.


Despite severe state suppression, religious revival is taking hold among Chinese, both on the mainland and in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia. It is difficult to measure, however. A key issue is that Western definitions of religion and measures like attendance at services do not easily fit the variety of beliefs, practices and values that make up traditional Chinese religion (zongjiao).

Members of the ruling Communist Party are officially banned from engaging in a broad range of spiritual customs, including visiting temples, consulting fortunetellers or practicing ancestor worship. Even so, they engage in these practices occasionally, and many report that their lives are influenced by them. In addition, the Chinese government promotes atheism and tightly regulates religious groups. This includes requiring registered temples to be under state control and monitoring their activities. The government also cracks down on “heterodox cults” that are perceived as threats to society. These include quasi-Christian groups such as the Church of Almighty God and Falun Gong, which incorporates elements from Taoism and Buddhism.


The Chinese community in the United States has a variety of educational opportunities available to them. There are programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as executive education options.

The majority of the Chinese population practices either Taoism or Confucianism, with smaller numbers of Buddhists and Christians. Education is very important to the Chinese, and they tend to spend a great deal of time on school work and other academic pursuits.

In England and Wales, the Chinese ethnic group has the highest entry rate into higher education of all the major ethnic groups. From key stage 2 reading, writing and maths to GCSEs (grades 5 and above), pupils from the Chinese community are consistently the best achieving group.

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