The Republic of Indonesia, located in Southeast Asia, is a large, populous and ethnically diverse country comprising more than 17,000 islands, including the major islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. Political instability beginning in the 1960s prompted many Indonesians to immigrate to Canada, which is now home to some 15,000 people of Indonesian heritage.
Indonesian Canadians Today
The majority of Indonesians in Canada are of Chinese origin, but because of language differences they are not closely connected to the Chinese Canadian community. Although most Indonesians came directly to Canada from Indonesia, others have come via the Netherlands, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. A large percentage of Indonesian Canadians have settled in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, mostly in urban centres, and especially in Toronto and Vancouver. As well, Indonesian students regularly come to Canada for a portion of their education. The Indonesian community has developed cultural organizations and women’s groups, while churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, are also important in community life. Indonesian dance and music, including gamelan ensembles, is a thriving part of Indonesian Canadians’ cultural life; the Indonesian culture is also known for its distinctive cooking and for its batik fabrics.
Many Indonesian Canadians are highly educated and work in scientific, economic, managerial or clerical fields. As well, some maintain economic and business connections with Indonesia.
Canada and Indonesia have enjoyed a formal diplomatic relationship since 1953, and maintain strong and friendly bilateral relations. The two countries work together in organizations such as the political and economic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and have partnered in various initiatives to protect human rights, address poverty, and promote economic development and sustainable growth. As well, Indonesia provides a growing market for Canadian products, services and investment. When Indonesia was struck by a devastating tsunami in 2004, Canada was among the many nations that provided substantial aid.