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Le bouddhisme au Canada

The first Buddhist immigrants, who came to Canada in the late 19th century, were from China and Japan. They worked on the mines and railroads of the Canadian Pacific Railway. During the late 1800s, Japanese Buddhists in British Columbia gathered at homes to hold assemblies. They belonged to the Jodo Shinshu tradition. The first documented assembly was in 1904. According to the records, 14 Buddhists met to request a minister from the mother temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan, the Honpa Honganji temple in Kyoto. In the following year, the first resident Buddhist minister arrived on Canadian soil. In December 1905, the first Buddhist temple was established in Vancouver. Many other temples were built in several Canadian provinces. During World War II, many Japanese Canadians were imprisoned and this almost meant the end to Japanese Buddhism in Canada. The abolishing of the War Measures Act in 1949 set Japanese Canadians free and re-established Japanese Buddhism in the country.

With the liberalization of Canada’s immigration policy in the 1960s, many Buddhists immigrated to Canada from different Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka, Japan, South-east Asia, and Tibet, representing various Buddhist traditions, such as Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Tantric and Vajrayana Buddhism. There are also Canadian converts to Buddhism, as many Canadians have been attracted to Buddhism by its teachings and by the popularity of the Dalai Lama. According to the census of 2011, there are 366,830 Buddhists in Canada. We find the largest number of Buddhists in the province of Ontario (163,750), followed by British Columbia (90,620) and Quebec (52,390).

Generally, Buddhists in Canada follow Buddhist doctrine, as revealed in the teachings of the Buddha, but there are also differences pertaining to the different branches of Buddhism, Theravada, Mahayana or Tantric Buddhism as well as to different sects within these branches. At the time of the census of 2011, there were 489 Buddhist organizations, temples, centers, associations, retreats and charities in Canada. Many Buddhist temples function as community cultural centers. There are many uncounted groups, who do not want to be part of any institutionalized hierarchy. Decentralization and disliking for institutionalized structures are two characteristics of Canadian Buddhism. Another important feature is that like elsewhere in Asia, embracing Buddhism in Canada does not mean the exclusion of other belief systems. Many Buddhists in Canada adhere at the same time also to Christianity, or Hinduism or Shintoism, or Taoism, etc. as well.

Some important temples in British Columbia are the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada in Vancouver, the Vancouver Buddhist Center, the Fu Hui Buddhist temple Society and the Thrangu Monastery in Richmond, in Ontario – the Wat Lao Veluwanaram of Ontario, the Khmer Buddhist Temple of Ontario, Buddhist Prajna Temple, Karna Sonam Dargye Ling Temple, the Cham Shan Temple and the Toronto Nichiren Buddhist Church and in Quebec – Yuen Kwok Buddhist Temple, Manjushri Buddhist Center, Paramita Centre of Buddhist Meditation, and the Montreal Buddhist Church.

Buddhist scholar-monks from Asia often visit Buddhist temples and societies in Canada. They offer meditation sessions and hold seminars on various topics of the Buddhist doctrine. Some of these seminars and workshops take place online, others are held in person at various temples, centers and retreats. Many Buddhist scholar-monks from Asia seek contacts with Canadian universities, as they like visiting classes and exchanging with students and professors of Buddhism at an academic level. These visiting scholars and monks, together with resident monks and priests of the temples, who usually also come from Asia, play an important role in maintaining the links with Buddhism in Asia. Buddhist traditions in Canada are rich and diverse and they attract many new followers from all over Canada.

- Barber, A.w. and Celine Cooper. “Buddhism in Canada.” In The Canadian encyclopedia. 2011. Retrieved on November 20th, 2021.
- Beyer, Peter and Rubina Ramji, eds. Growing Up Canadian : Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists. Montreal and London : McGill Queen’s University Press, 2013.
- Coward, Harold, John Rinneles and Raymond Williams, eds. The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada and the United States. Albany, N.Y : State University of New York Press, 2000.
- Dimitrova, Diana, ed. The Other in South Asian Religion, Literature and Film : Perspectives on Otherism and Otherness. London and New York : Routledge, 2014, paperback edition 2017.
- Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, “Canadian Demographics at a Glance.Second Edition.” Retrieved on November 1st, 2021.
- Matthews, Bruce. Buddhism in Canada. 2006
- Peressini, Mauro, eds. Choosing Buddhism : The Life Stories of Eight Canadians. Ottawa:Ottawa University Press, 2016.

D 2 décembre 2021    ADiana Dimitrova

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