The first Hamazkayin chapter in North America was founded in August 1963, in Montreal, Quebec, consolidating the choir, the dance ensemble, and the theater troupe that had existed in the community since 1955. The Hamazkayin Toronto chapter came into being in 1969.
During the same period, the Eastern USA Armenian communities of Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Detroit had similarly founded local Hamazkayin chapters. In June 1975, the Canadian and American chapters jointly initiated the formation of the Executive Body of Hamazkayin Cultural Association in Eastern North America, aiming to assemble the local entities under Hamazkayin’s banner and to foster cooperation among them. This Executive Body supervised the integration of the cultural associations of Chicago and Philadelphia, and the formation of Hamazkayin chapters in Hamilton and Cambridge, Ontario (1976).
In December 1976, an extraordinary General Assembly was convened in Toronto, where it was resolved that the growing number of Hamazkayin chapters in both countries entailed the administrative disjunction of the two regions. Thus the first regional representative assemblies were convened in Boston for the Eastern USA region, and in Hamilton, Ontario, for the Canadian region. At both assemblies, delegates held elections for their respective Regional Executive Committees.
In 1978, the Regional Executive Committee of Canada created a book- promotion project, aiming at the distribution of Armenian books, recordings, and films in all Canadian cities with vibrant Armenian communities. Over the years, the project burgeoned into the most structured Armenian book–promotion initiative in Canada and consistently satisfies the literary and Armenian textbook needs of Armenian bibliophiles, as well as of the Armenian schools across the nation.
In 1981, the Hamazkayin local chapter was formed in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over the next two decades, the activities of Hamazkayin chapters in Hamilton, Cambridge, and Vancouver were relatively limited. In 2002, the provisions of a new by-law adopted by the 4th Hamazkayin World Congress permitted the restructuring of these chapters into Hamazkayin Units. Today, Hamazkayin Canada has a membership of 400 in the following Canadian cities:
- Sanahin (Montreal and Laval, Quebec)
- Klatsor (Toronto, Ontario)
- Datev (Cambridge, Ontario)
- Varak (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Haghpad (Quebec City, Quebec)
- Amaras (Hamilton, Ontario)
- Armash (Saint Catharines, Ontario)
The main task of the Regional Committee in Canada is to invigorate the chapters, as well as to foster relationships between them and those of other regions in North America. The Committee oversees the exchange of cultural programs and activities. Additionally, from 1997-2007, the Regional Committee annually organized 15-hour courses in Armenian studies, where guest lecturers from Canada and abroad taught topics encompassing Armenian literature, history, music, etc. These courses regularly attract 20–30 individuals. Since 2007, the courses have been placed under the jurisdiction of the local Hamazkayin chapters in Montreal and Toronto.
The chapters conduct various activities. The Sanahin Chapter in Montreal is home to the Ani Dance Ensemble, Bedros Atamian Theatre Troupe, the Knar Choir, as well as the literary, plastic arts, library, and book-promotion committees. It also owns a unique collection of Armenian royal costumes. The chapter maintains the largest Armenian library in Canada, with 12,000 volumes. From 1969-1991, the chapter produced the local Hamazkayin radio hour.
The Klatsor Chapter in Toronto administers the Dance Institute, the Erepouni Dance Ensemble, Georges Sarkissian Theatre Troupe, Youth Choir and the Arshile Gorky art studio. Since 2007, every September the chapter organizes the highly successful Pomegranate Film Festival. The chapter also has library and book- promotion committee, which organizes literary events and lectures. In 2005, the construction of the Hamazkayin Theatre Hall was part of the expansion of the Armenian Centre complex and the construction of a youth centre in Toronto . The construction was made possible due to the generous donation of Hamazkayin advocates Simon and Maral Haserjians.
The Hamazkayin Amaras Hamilton unit has produced the local Armenian Radio Hour for decades. The Varak unit of Vancouver organizes Armenian film screenings and hosts Armenian theatre performances from California, while the Datev unit of Cambridge invites the members of the community to monthly lectures. For major cultural events, Hamazkayin chapters collaborate with other Armenian cultural organizations in the Canadian communities.
Lastly, through its chapters and units, Hamazkayin attempts to present the Armenian people and its culture to the people of Canada. Hamazkayin aims to have direct input in various inter-cultural and multicultural events and collaborate with specialized local art groups and, through them, present an opportunity for Armenian artists to gain exposure to a larger public.