TheStar.com | GTA | `For Indians, Brampton is Canada’

In the summer of 2006, Babita Sharma and her 2-year-old son left their home in Punjab, India, to start a new life in Canada. But their destination was not Toronto. Instead, Sharma landed in Brampton, where she joined her husband.

“He didn’t even think of Toronto when he came here to look for a job,” said Sharma. “Brampton has everything we need – the community, the stores, and it’s affordable for us.”

It’s a move and a choice that many Indians immigrating to the GTA are making, according to the new census data released yesterday. In 2006, India surpassed China as the number one source of immigrants settling in Toronto.

About 77,800 immigrants came from India, and 17.4 per cent settled in the Toronto metropolitan area. The number of foreign-born residents in Brampton grew by 59 per cent between 2001 and 2006, according to the latest census data.

“For Indians, Brampton is Canada,” said Ahmed Iqbal, the executive director of Brampton Multicultural Community Centre, which serves 11,000 immigrants a year, the majority from India. “They have heard about it and they know that it is a place where people `look like us,'” he said.

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