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TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Canada is now home to more immigrants than at any time in the past 75 years and they have more in common with home-grown Canucks than one might think, according to a new report.
A national survey of 2,299 Canadians found that they placed the highest value on freedom, democracy and equality, regardless of where they were born.
This comes as no surprise to Jason Klinck, coordinator for the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary, Alberta, a non-profit organization that provides settlement services to new Canadians.
"Canadians share many of the same values with immigrants because our connection with them is stronger," he said in an interview.
"We have a whole generation of people who were born in Canada to parents who were born elsewhere."
A 2006 Statistics Canada report indicates that approximately one in five Canadians were born outside the country, bringing the number of foreign-born Canadians to a 75-year high.
Figures released the same year show that most immigrants, 13 percent, come from China, followed by India with 12 percent and the Philippines with seven percent.
"Immigrations is becoming more and more a part of the Canadian identity -- it's not on the fringes anymore," Klinck said.
The national poll commissioned by credit card company MasterCard comes days before Canadians celebrate their national identity on July 1st.
"We really wanted to find out how people who weren't born here feel about being Canadian, and we found there's a lot of pride in being associated with this country," said Julie Wilson, director of public affairs, MasterCard Canada in Toronto.
"We assume that people want to come to Canada for political reasons, but immigrants usually said they're here because their families are here too. Family truly makes the home," Wilson added.
Economic reasons are also a big pull, said Klinck.
Those born outside of Canada were more likely to cite diversity as a key Canadian value, the survey found.
The poll also found that immigrants share many of the same culinary tastes as their home-grown peers, with Canadian beef being the favorite, followed by maple syrup, poutine, which is a potato dish topped with sauce and cheese, and hamburgers.
Reporting by Lara Hertel; editing by Patricia Reaney