VANCOUVER, BC – December 7, 2021 – The Asia Pacific is the current epicentre of global economic growth, innovation, and talent. While Canada considers deeper engagement with the region, it is critical that we gauge Canadian perspectives and awareness of Asia – especially among young adults – to ensure that Canada is keeping pace with changing global dynamics, now and into the future.
In this context, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s 2021 National Opinion Poll: Canada’s Generational Perspectives on Asia (2021 NOP) is a thematic survey that analyzes Canadian perspectives about the Asia Pacific while exploring the generational divide across critical issues. The poll identifies gaps in Canadians’ awareness about Asia and effective ways to fill those gaps to better inform future engagement by government, business, and other stakeholders.
According to our 2021 NOP, surveying 2,592 Canadian citizens and permanent residents across the country, most Canadians think that Asian technology, immigrants, culture, and economic growth will positively impact Canada in the next ten to twenty years. Seventy per cent think technology and innovation in Asia will have a positive impact, 62% think the same for immigration from Asia, 58% for the influence of Asian cultures and traditions on Canada, and 57% for economic growth in the Asia Pacific.
We also found that our younger generations, particularly Millennials, hold warmer feelings toward Asia than Canada’s older generations, while the majority of Canadians across all generations believe it is important for Canada’s future to build competency about Asian culture, society, languages, protocols, and religions – although younger generations are more likely to believe that this is true.
Interestingly, while 15% of all respondents self-identify as being of Asian descent, 29% of Generation Z (18-to-24) identify as being of Asian heritage. Canadians of Asian descent across the survey report a higher interest and awareness about Asian culture, languages, and current events and express warmer feelings toward Asia than Canadians who do not share Asian heritage.
APF Canada’s 2021 NOP also found that 70% of respondents across all age groups had too little or no exposure to Asia in high school, while 46% of respondents who said they are interested in learning more about Asia believe an increased emphasis on teaching about Asia in the Canadian education system would be an effective method of building Canadians’ awareness about Asia and Asians.
Our latest poll also touched on languages and found that 13% of Canadians have conversational fluency in at least one Asian language. The majority are Canadians of Asian descent, with younger Canadians more likely to speak an Asian language than older generations. And, while younger generations are more enthusiastic about learning an Asian language than older generations, 70% of all Canadians said they would be open to learning an Asian language.
“Canada’s younger generations are considerably more diverse than our older generations in terms of their ethnicity and lived experiences of multiculturalism,” said APF Canada President and CEO Jeff Nankivell. “As our latest poll shows us, these young Canadians have a heightened awareness and greater enthusiasm for engagement with Asia and Asian peoples and culture. This bodes well for Canada, as we seek to strengthen and build relationships across this growing and dynamic region.”
“Importantly, this year’s NOP also underscores the important work being done in building Asia competency here at home,” added Nankivell. “It helps identify gaps in Canadians’ awareness about Asia – and effective ways to fill those gaps to help prepare young Canadians for the changing socio-economic realities of Canada and the global economy.”
Highlights of the 2021 NOP: Canada’s Generational Perspectives on Asia include:
- 15% of all respondents self-identify as Canadian of Asian descent.
- 29% of Generation Z (18-to-24 years) identify as Canadians of Asian descent, compared to less than 6% of respondents aged 55 and above.
- Across the survey, Canadians of Asian descent report higher interest and awareness about Asian culture, languages, and current events and express warmer feelings toward Asia.
- Younger Canadians (under 34) are generally more interested in learning more about Asia, but more than 50% of all respondents say they are interested or currently engaged in learning more about Asian cuisine, history, or tourism.
- 70% of all respondents say they had too little or no exposure to Asia in their high-school education.
- Among respondents interested in learning about Asia, 46% said an increased emphasis on teaching about Asia in the Canadian education system would effectively build awareness about Asia and Asians.
- 13% of Canadians have conversational fluency in at least one Asian language.
- Among respondents who can speak an Asian language, 70% know Cantonese or Mandarin (Chinese), about 21% speak Hindi, and 15% speak Punjabi.
- When asked about languages Canadians would like to learn the most besides English or French, Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese (12%), and Japanese (6%) are the second and fourth top choices, behind Spanish (46%) and Italian (8%).
- 70% of Canadians think technology and innovation in Asia will positively impact Canada’s future, 62% think the same for immigration from Asia, 58% for the influence of Asian cultures and traditions on Canada, and 57% for economic growth in the Asian region.
- Almost half of Gen Z and Millennials believe it is “important” or “very important” to understand Asian society and culture for Canada’s future economic growth and social diversity, compared to about 35% of the two older generations.
- Notably, twice as many Canadians of Asian descent think understanding Asia is “important” or “very important” for Canada’s future economic growth and social diversity compared to the rest of the respondents.
The full poll results are available at www.asiapacific.ca
For media information, please contact:
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada