Religion and Belief Among Immigrants to Canada
6 July 2023
Canada prides itself on being a country that welcomes immigrants. When asked what makes their country distinctive, many Canadians point to the diversity that comes from people from all over the world making “the true north, strong and free” their new home. Moreover, as birth rates in the North Atlantic world decline, immigrants are making up an increasing share of Canada’s population. In 2021, nearly one in four Canadians (23 percent) were born in another country—the highest proportion of the population since Confederation and greater than any other G7 country—and Canada plans to welcome 500,000 immigrants annually by 2025.When these individuals and families come to Canada, they bring with them their cultures, languages, traditions, and practices, all of which play a part in making Canada the country that we know today. One of the important but often underappreciated ways that immigrants contribute to the diversity of Canadian society is through their religious and spiritual lives: their beliefs, worship and spiritual practices, and participation in communities of faith. In this brief, we use survey data to look at faith and spirituality among immigrants to Canada, focusing on two main questions:Do the religious beliefs and practices of immigrants differ from those born in Canada, and if so, how?How do immigrants view the role of religion in Canadian public life, and how do their views compare to the views of those born in Canada?It is important to note that the focus of this brief is not immigrants’ religious affiliation, that is, whether the person identifies as a Christian, a Muslim, or some other faith. We are interested instead in the extent to which people’s faith commitment shapes their everyday lives, both personally and publicly. Faith and religiosity are, of course, hard to measure. In this brief, the lens through which we observe Canadians’ faith lives is the Spectrum of Spirituality, a composite index developed by Cardus and the Angus Reid Institute to observe religion and spirituality along a continuum of commitment (see sidebar).