Toronto Raptors NBA championship a big win for Canadian immigration

Stephen Smith
Published: June 14, 2019

A Canadian team made up mainly of foreign players and cheered on by thousands of immigrants is now the best in professional basketball. 

Last night saw the Toronto Raptors take their first National Basketball Association (NBA) title by defeating the six-time champion Golden State Warriors in six games.

The Raptors' championship run garnered almost as much coverage for the diversity of its fans as the team's prowess on the court. In recent weeks, Raptor superfan Nav Bhatia, who immigrated from India in the 1980s, has been talked about almost as much as star players Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry.

Bhatia, a Sikh who owns a number of used car dealerships in Toronto, has held season tickets since the Raptors first year in Toronto in 1995. Since then, he has given countless, mainly immigrant kids a chance to see their heroes play.

"I use the game of basketball to bring the world together," he said in one interview.

“An immigrant has risen to be an ambassador of the Raptors," said a fellow Sikh of Bhatia.  "It shows that Toronto is all about diversity, a city where it doesn’t matter where you come from.”

Toronto is a major draw for newcomers to Canada, largely because of its long-established ethnic communities and its reputation as Canada's most multicultural city.

Immigrants now make up 46 per cent of Toronto's population and 51.5 per cent of the city's residents identify themselves as "visible minority."

Many see that diversity reflected in the Raptors.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri is from Nigeria and players Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka are from Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, respectively. Most of the team is African-American and the only white player, Marc Gasol, is from Spain. Jeremy Lin, whose roots are Taiwanese, is now the first Asian-American to win an NBA Championship ring.

“Basketball is more like what the nation is like,” a Toronto resident whose parents moved to the city from Vietnam told the New York Times recently.

David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell, Cohn Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal, called the celebration of immigration that has taken place alongside the Raptors championship run a proud moment for the country.

"It's been great to see so much attention on Toronto's immigrant population and its love of basketball," he said. "Hockey may still be Canada's game, but it's got some serious competition now!"

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

© 2019 CICNews All Rights Reserved

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Related articles
How to be considered for jobs in Canada while still in the Express Entry pool
A person having an online interview with a recruiter
What should I do if I want to extend my expiring work permit but do not have my new LMIA or CAQ yet? 
male entrepreneurs using cell phone while walking in lobby at office building
How IRCC checks if your offer of employment is genuine
Two people sitting at a table and shaking hands with each other.
How can I improve the chances that the processing of my application is not delayed?
Happy female traveler waiting for the flight in the airport
Top Stories
Canada’s immigration minister proposes new legislation for Canadian citizenship by descent
IRCC now accepting community applications for two new pilot programs
How to be considered for jobs in Canada while still in the Express Entry pool
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe
More in Express Entry
How to be considered for jobs in Canada while still in the Express Entry pool
A person having an online interview with a recruiter
Can I count student work experience towards the Express Entry work requirement?
Two people sitting at a table looking at a tablet working on a project.
The state of the Express Entry pool: April 2024
A collage of a group of people preforming various actions in a single photo
Will my job offer get me Comprehensive Ranking System points as an Express Entry candidate?
Multiracial group of colleagues working on business reports during the meeting
Link copied to clipboard