Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Iranians in Canada

Iranian-Canadian is used interchangeably with Persian-Canadian, partly due to the fact that, in the Western world, Iran was known as "Persia". On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates to use the term Iran, the endonym of the country used since the Sasanian Empire, in formal correspondence. Since then the use of the word "Iran" has become more common in the Western countries. This also changed the usage of the terms for Iranian nationality, and the common adjective for citizens of Iran changed from "Persian" to "Iranian". In 1959, the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could officially be used interchangeably. However the issue is still debated today.

There is a tendency among Iranian-Canadians to categorize themselves as "Persian" rather than "Iranian", mainly to dissociate themselves from the Islamic regime of Iran which is in charge since 1979 Revolution and the negativity associated with it, and also to distinguish themselves as being of Persian ethnicity, which comprise about 65% of Iran's population. While the majority of Iranian-Canadians come from Persian backgrounds, there is a significant number of non-Persian Iranians such as Azeris and Kurds within the Iranian-Canadian community, leading some scholars to believe that the label "Iranian" is more inclusive, since the label "Persian" excludes non-Persian minorities. The Collins English Dictionary uses a variety of similar and overlapping definitions for the terms "Persian" and "Iranian".

Formal diplomatic relations between the Government of Canada and Iran were established in 1955, with the opening of an Iranian mission in Ottawa in 1956 and the first Canadian Head of Mission dispatched to Tehran in 1959. During the following years, the two countries developed a significant commercial relationship, with almost 1,000 Canadian workers and contractors in Iran at the end of the 1970s.

The Canadian Embassy in Tehran remained open during the Islamic Revolution, but closed in 1980 following the safe departure of six members of the US Embassy who had been sheltering with Canadian diplomats.

At the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Canada sent a large team of military observers under a United Nations mandate to help supervise the ceasefire. At the same time, the Canadian Embassy re-opened, with an Ambassador named in 1990. Throughout the 1990s, commercial relations between the two countries expanded rapidly, until Iran became one of Canadaís most important trading partners in the Middle East region.

A reciprocal diplomatic presence was maintained until September 2012, when Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa for various reasons, including Iranís non-compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear program and Iranís regional policies. Since then, Italy has been Canadaís Protective Power in Iran. In 2012, Canada listed Iran as a state supporter of terrorism under the State Immunity Act and also listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - Qods Force as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code.

In July 2015, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Germany, led by the European Union, concluded an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015). Canada welcomed the January 2016 confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had fulfilled all necessary commitments under the JCPOA. Canada also announced its willingness to resume discussions with Iran, including on the possibility of restoring diplomatic contacts. No specific timeframe has been identified for a potential re-establishment of a Canadian embassy in Tehran.

Canada has been one of the strongest critics of Iranís poor human rights record. Since 2003, Canada has been the lead sponsor of the annual United Nations Resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran. The most recent iteration of the resolution was successfully adopted in 2015 with support from a cross-regional group of countries, underscoring the fact that the international community remains deeply concerned about human rights violations in Iran.

Toronto Iranians, Welcome!
The Iranian Canadian Congress
Is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-religious organization established in 2007 to represent the interests of Iranian-Canadians and encourage their participation in Canadian society.

Support the Iranian Canadian Congress - Intro Video

Nowruz in Toronto

Iranian Plaza

The Toronto Iranian Plaza

Persian Restaurant in Richmond Hill

Return to our History Page



This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.