Toronto’s Cambodians have an impressive cultural tradition, which is displayed through their dance and music performances at festivals through -out the year. Cambodians speak Khmer and French and share a culture closely affiliated with East Indians. The Toronto community has two soccer teams, a volleyball team, and a number of bands that perform at various functions.
Cambodians come from the The Kingdom of Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea), located in Southeast Asia between the countries of Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. One of Toronto’s newest cultural groups, they first arrived in Canada when approximately 20 Cambodian families came in 1975, comprised mainly of professionals. A second wave of immigration came in the 1980s bringing many blue-collar workers to Canada after the invasion of Kampuchea by the Vietnamese army.
Some 6,000 Cambodians live in Toronto, many in the areas of Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue, Jane Street and Woolner Avenue, Jane Street and Finch Avenue, Regent Park, London Green, Driftwood Avenue, and Gosford Boulevard.
Most Cambodian holidays are celebrated with a show of traditional dance and music and parties where popular music is enjoyed.
NEW YEAR’S DAY is celebrated from April 13–15 with processions and prayers. Homes are swept and ritual cleansing ceremonies clear away evil spirits. It is customary to sprinkle one’s friends with water to help wash away their sins. Cambodians celebrate the day with an evening of entertainment by a Cambodian live band at a local hall.
PCHUM BEN is an annual celebration similar to Thanks -giving.
BON PHKA AND KATHEN is an annual festival held to raise money for the Buddhist temple. A show of traditional dance and music and also a party with contemporary popular music accompany most Cambodian holidays.
CAMBODIAN NEWSLETTER, (Tel. 416-736-0138, Fax 416-736-9454, www.khmer-ontario.org, 1111 Finch Ave. W., Suite 308). Published four times a year by the Canadian Cambodian Association of Canada.
CAMBODIAN TV PROGRAM: The only television program in the Khmer language in Ontario.
AID FOR VICTIMS OF CAMBODIAN LANDMINES, (Tel. 416-778-6383, 614 Gerrard St. E). Educates the Cambodian public about the prevention and treatment of landmines injuries. President: Candaramony, Eang.
CANADIAN CAMBODIAN ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO, (Tel. 416-736-0138, Fax 416-736-9454, www.khmer-ontario.org, 1111 Finch Ave. W., Suite 308). This incorporated non-profit organization was formed by a group of Cambodian immigrants who came to Canada in 1975. It received charitable status in 1980. Its main purpose is to unite and assist all Canadian Cambodians, immigrants, and refugees and to encourage a cultural exchange between Canadians, Cambodians, and other ethnic groups. The Canadian Cambodian Association of Ontario also works to promote higher education among Cambodian-Canadian students and helps integrate Cambodian youths into Canadian society. President: Jack Chang.
THE UNITED CAMBODIAN YOUTH OF ONTARIO (same address as above). Principal objectives: to promote higher education among Cambodian-Canadian students; to provide opportunities for the development of organizational, educational and leadership skills; and to foster and strengthen friendship, mutual trust and unity among Cambodian youth. President: Mr. Sambath Chhom.