Sikhs are among the fastest growing groups in Canada.
Tensions between India and Canada escalated after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a campaigner for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan and a designated terrorist in India. New Delhi has rejected all the allegations of the Trudeau government, calling them "absurd" and "motivated". From downsizing the mission in India to expelling diplomats in tit-for-tat moves and pausing visa applications, both the countries have taken steps against each other. Against this backdrop, it is important to understand the connection Sikhs have with Canada.
Sikh population in Canada
According to the 2021 census, the population of Canada is 3.70 crore. Of this, 16 lakh or about four per cent are of Indian origin. Sikhs in Canada number approximately 7,70,000.
But in the last 20 years, the population of Sikhs in Canada has doubled. Most of them have migrated from Punjab for higher studies and jobs.
How Sikhs Influence Canadian society
Sikhs are among the fastest growing groups in Canada. After Christians, Muslims and Hindus, Sikhs are the fourth largest religious group in the country. Their population is concentrated in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Also, Punjabi is the third most popular language in Canada after English and French.
They have made huge contributions in the construction sector, transport and banking. Many Sikhs own successful businesses like hotel and restaurant chains and gas stations.
Apart from this, 4.15 lakh Sikhs have Permanent Residence and 1.19 lakh are living in Canada without it. Till 1980, only 35,000 Sikhs were living in Canada with a PR.
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister for the first time in 2015, he picked four ministers from the Sikh community - the highest representation of the community at federal level.
How have Sikhs come to hold a prominent position in Canada?
Experts say their networking through gurdwaras is a major reason for the community's massive success in Canada. They also collect grants in the form of a Sikh fund and a large part of this money is spent in funding election campaigns.
Out of the 388 MPs in Canada, 18 are Sikhs. Of these, eight seats are completely controlled by Sikhs and they play a significant role in 15 others. This is the reason why no political party wants to displease the community.