Canadian Culture

Religion

Canadian society promotes religious pluralism and freedom. Every citizen has the liberty to observe any religion in Canada, so long as its practises do not break the law. There is no official national religion, but Christianity has been the dominant faith since colonisation. For example, swearing on the Bible is a part of most legal proceedings and prayers open many official functions. Secular alternatives are also practised and people are expected to respect religious diversity in both government and society.

Canadians tend not to discuss religion in public or explicitly with those that they don’t know very well. They are free to choose whether they want to identify themselves as a religious person or not, to avoid potential confrontation and judgment. Conversations around religion are still welcome, but people may not like it when others try to promote their faith or speak defensively about it (including atheism). Preaching in social conversation can be seen as irritating and self-righteous.

The 2011 National Household Survey estimated that 67.3% of Canadians are Christian (38.7% being Catholic), 23.9% are unaffiliated with any religion and 8.1% belong to a religion other than Christianity (Islam being the largest non-Christian faith at 3.25%).

Although over 70% of Canada’s population are estimated to have a religious affiliation, much less are thought to attend religious services. In response to the General Social Survey of 2011, only 27% of Canadians said that they attend a religious service at least once a month. However, observance varies by ethnic and religious group. The immigrant population in Canada remains the most religiously observant with 43% reporting religious service attendance at least once a month. Generally, Francophones tend to be more religious than Anglophones. For example, percentage of religiously unaffiliated is three times higher in British Columbia (44%) than Quebec (12%).

There has also been a growth in minority faiths as immigration from Asia, Africa and the Middle East has increased. However, the number of Canada’s immigrants who are unaffiliated with a religion has also risen to 20%, which is likely due to an increase in migration from China, the world’s largest religiously unaffiliated population.

The number of Canadians who don’t ascribe to any particular religion has also risen a great deal in recent generations, which is somewhat due to a generational replacement of values and beliefs. Also, some Canadians have disaffiliated with their religion as they have aged; for example, the number of people born between 1947 and 1966 unaffiliated with any religion has almost doubled since 1981. 
Cultural Competence Program
Cultural Competence Program Logo

Join over 300 organisations already creating a better workplace

Find out more
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/233/ca.svg Flag