Every August since 1978, members of Toronto’s Pakistani community have marched in a parade from Nathan Phillips Square to Queen’s Park to celebrate Pakistan’s Day of Independence. This colourful ceremony, followed by speeches and a cultural program of patriotic songs and folk dances, symbolizes the close co-operation of the community’s major organizations and media in celebrating Pakistani culture in the city.
Although the history of the Pakistanis dates back 5,000 years to the Mohan-Jo-Daro civilization, Pakistan is a relatively new nation that achieved its independence in 1947. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is located on the Arabian Sea between Afghanistan and India. Following Pakistan’s independence, there was a large exodus of Pakistanis, and in the late 1950s and early ’60s, the first people began to immigrate to Canada indirectly from the United States, Britain, Germany, and France.
In the 1960s, the Muslim community established Islamic centres in a rented building on Dundas Street West and at St. Mary’s Church on Bathurst Street. A building on Rhodes Avenue was purchased and became the Islamic Community Centre. Today, the focal point of religious life for Toronto’s Pakistani community is the Jami Mosque on Boustead Avenue, established in the early 1970s. The Mosque is open 24 hours a day and has a major research library. It operates a weekly radio program and hosts lectures and programs featuring Muslim scholars from around the world.
In the early 1970s, a second wave of immigrants arrived from Pakistan. These new settlers eventually sponsored their families to come to Canada. Today, Toronto’s Pakistani community numbers close to 50,000 people.
The Pakistan Canada Association, established in 1968, was the community’s first organization in the city. In 1982, the National Federation of Pakistani Canadians, with headquarters in Ottawa, was formed as an umbrella organization to help promote the group’s separate identity from the South Asian and East Indian communities in Canada. The federation sponsors seminars and publications on issues related to the Pakistani community in Canada and organizes a women’s conference and youth conference on Labour Day weekend.
Shops carrying imported clothing and carpets from Pakistan can be found throughout Toronto. The community’s rich cultural traditions are manifested through the music of the tabla and sitar, and art exhibits by internationally acclaimed Pakistani artists. In 1988, the community entered Metro’s International Caravan for the first time with the Lahore Pavilion, which featured the exciting sword dances of the Pathan tribesmen, carpet weaving demonstrations, and a bazaar of brassware, fabrics, saris, jewelry, and artifacts.
PAKISTAN NATIONAL DAY is celebrated on March 23 in commemoration of the Pakistan Resolution passed in 1940 in Lahore. Pakistan was declared a republic in 1956.
INDEPENDENCE DAY, on August 14, is a celebration of Pakistan’s coming into existence as an independent Muslim state as a result of the efforts of the founder of the nation, Quaide Azem Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The day is celebrated with a parade and a cultural program.
CRESCENT INTERNATIONAL, (Tel. 905-474-9292, 300 Steelcase Rd. W., Unit 8, Markham). A bi-weekly published in English. Editor: Mr. Z. Bangash.
DHARTI SONHI PAKISTAN (URDU), CITY-TV, CHANNEL 57, (Tel. 416-531-9991, c/o CHIN Radio/TV International, 622 College St). Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
EASTERN NEWS, (Tel. 905-826-NEWS or (905) 858-7525, 5790 Riverside Pl., Mississauga). An alternative weekly Urdu language newspaper since 1979. Editor: Masood Khan.
PAKEEZA INTERNATIONAL URDU MAGAZINE, (Tel. 905-337-3030). First weekly newsmagazine. Contact: Sabih Mansoor.
SOUTH ASIAN VOICE (WEEKLY NEWSPAPER), (Tel. 905-337-3030). Editor: Sabih Mansoor.
VOICE OF PAKISTAN, c/o CHIN 100.7 FM Radio, (Tel. 416-531-9991, 622 College St). Sunday, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
VISIONS OF PAKISTAN, VISION-TV, (Tel. 416-368-3194, 80 Bond St). Saturday, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Producer: Bashir Khan.
DIL DIL PAKISTAN, VISION-TV, (Tel. 416-368-3194, 80 Bond St). Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Producer: Dil Muhammad.
MEELAN (MUSIC OF PAKISTAN) RADIO PROGRAM. Every Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on CJMR AM 1320. Broadcasting for last 25 years.
CANADIAN LEAGUE OF PAKISTANIS, (Tel. 416-609-2267, 145 Purcell Sq). Contact: Asif Khan.
ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA, CANADA, (Tel. 905-403-8406, Fax (905) 403-8409, 2200 South Sheridan Way, Mississauga).
PAKISTAN CANADA CULTURAL ASSOCIATION, (Tel. 416-532-7556, Fax 416-532-6717, 54 Bartlett Ave). Formed in 1972, this Association provides cultural and social services and helps new immigrants settle in the city. President: Asaf Shujah.
PAKISTANI WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION, (128 Brahms Ave., Willowdale). President: Nighat Sukhera.
The Pakistani flag prominently displayed on Independence Day at Toronto City Hall.