From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Egyptians/Fouad Assaad
Egyptian immigrants come from a wide spectrum of cultures. Native Egyptians, Syrio-Lebanese, Armenians, Greeks, Italians, and Jews have been able to live together in peace because they have valued integration and unity since ancient times. This orientation has been reflected in the acculturation process of Egyptians in Canada in both the private and the public spheres. Immigrants have generally not retained an Egyptian way of life in their homes. Instead, concessions have been made to the Canadian reality, particularly with regard to language preferences, eating habits, and the observance of holidays.
The majority of middle-class Egyptians speak Arabic and at least some French or English, but the tendency to speak the latter languages increases after their arrival in Canada. According to the 1986 census, only 0.9 percent of Egyptians in Quebec knew neither French nor English, while 73.7 percent knew both languages, 28.2 percent French only, and 5.6 percent English only. A 1989 study in that province showed that the minority (31 percent) of respondents spoke only Arabic at home, whereas the majority (53 percent) spoke either English (30 percent) or French (18 percent) or both languages (5 percent).
After their arrival in Canada, Egyptian immigrants have tended to adopt Canadian food while retaining some of their own traditional dishes. The same study revealed that the majority of those questioned (65 percent) ate both Egyptian and Canadian food, while 23 percent ate only Egyptian and 8.5 percent only Canadian dishes. Egyptian cuisine draws on many cultures, including ancient Egyptian, Arabic, Turkish, and both Western and Eastern European. Among the common dishes are those based on legumes, such as foul (beans), tameia (falafel), adse (lentil soup), bisara (beans), and kousharey (lentils and macaroni with fried onions in a tomato sauce); on vegetables, including melokeia (green leaf soup), mesakaa (fried eggplant with meat sauce), stuffed vine leaves and stuffed cabbage rolls; and on grains, such as freek (roasted green wheat), koskosi (couscous), and fata (bread, soup, and meat). Most Egyptian desserts are made from wheat products and syrup. They include basbousa, kounafa, katayif, baklawa, and Lokmet El Kadi (or bread of the judges, which resembles a pancake soaked in syrup). Likewise, the majority of Egyptians in Canada celebrate both Western and Egyptian holidays. Of those surveyed in Quebec in 1989, 52 percent celebrated both, while 39 percent observed only Western holidays and 4.6 percent only Egyptian ones. In Egypt the major holidays are Cham-El-Nassim (spring celebration), which takes place on the Monday following Easter, and the anniversary of the 1952 revolution on 23 July. As well, Egyptian Copts observe Neirouz (New Year) on 11 September, Christmas on 7 January, and Easter.
The community in Canada receives news from the homeland through both the broadcast and print media. In 1995–96 there were three television programs in Quebec. The Voice of Egypt in Canada is a thirty-minute current affairs show produced in Montreal and aired five times a week. Broadcast in English and Arabic, it consists of news and interviews with members of the Egyptian-Canadian community and Egyptians abroad. Magazine de la télévisionne egyptienne, which was first aired in 1970, is also produced in Montreal. It is a half-hour variety show containing news, interviews, and entertainment items and is broadcast four times a week. Its principal language is Arabic, but 30 percent of the program is in English and French. The most recent addition is the Arabic World Film, also from Montreal, which broadcasts Arabic films in one-hour segments three times a week. Another program, Égypte: Terre des Pharaons, ceased in the late 1980s. Although there have been broadcasts from Ontario in the past, none currently originate from that province.
The first Egyptian magazine in Canada, Egypt and the Arab World (Montreal and Ottawa, 1974– ), a monthly publication written mainly in Arabic with some English and French, carries news about Egypt, the Middle East, Canada, and the Egyptian community in this country. Its subscribers are mainly Canadian, but it also has readers in the United States and Egypt. Almost all Egyptian socio-cultural organizations also issue a newsletter or magazine. These publications are generally of an informative nature and cover both local and international events.