Pakistani Community

The beginnings of Pakistani immigration to Quebec could be traced to the mid-nineteen fifties, when a number of people from Karachi, Pakistan came to settle in the province, some of them had previously migrated to Great Britain, some other moved to Montreal from Toronto.

There were few of them, and on the occasion of national and religious holidays, they would invite other compatriots to their homes for dinner. Around 1958, the first association of Pakistanis in Montreal was born.

It consisted of both the landed immigrants and the students, and it was named the “Pakistani Association of Montreal”. It had Salahuddin Hyder as its President and Ishfaq Ahmed as Secretary (Mr. Salahuddin Hyder was the first immigrant from Pakistan to Canada and had arrived in Montreal in 1953, he had a degree in Engineering from the Muslim University of Aligarh, in India. Ishfaq Ahmed arrived in Montreal in September 1954 under the Columbo Plan Fellowship Programme to pursue graduate studies in Nuclear Physics at the University of Montreal. He had a degree in Physics from the University of Panjab).

The first official celebration of Pakistan Independence Day, August 14 was held at the University of Montreal in 1958. Refreshments and food were provided by the handful of Pakistani families living in Montreal. There was a fashion show introducing Pakistani culture and some students volunteered to be the models.

A commentary in both French and English was provided by a Pakistani Shamim Mirza, a student at the University. More than one hundred persons attended the event and that first successful celebration introduced Pakistan to Canadians and Quebeckers.   In the early 1960ies, there was an influx of medical graduates from Pakistan to Quebec. They arrived for training as specialists in various medical disciplines. Some of them came with their wives. Another similar group came about the same time to get training as accountants to obtain C.A. (Chartered Accountant) designation.

Then, the Islamic Centre of Montreal becomes more and more influential, and interest in the Pakistani Association of Montreal starts waning.

By the late sixties, the Pakistani Association had died, and as more and more Muslims arrived in Montreal from Middle East, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries, Islamic Centre of Quebec became a hub of their activities (almost all Pakistanis are Moslem, as Arabs introduced Islam to the area in the 8th century, thus most of them attend mosques). By that time, the Pakistani community has grown to several thousand people.

Many were professionals who had planned on staying only a couple of years, but became permanent residents and Canadian citizens.

In the eighties, a bi-monthly magazine Payamber was started. This publication was mailed to over 2500 people in those times.

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