News / Ottawa

Census shows Canada is more diverse than ever before

More than 1.2 million people came to Canada in last five years.

CMHR A young demonstrator holds up a sign championing diversity during a march outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

FILE / Metro Order this photo

CMHR A young demonstrator holds up a sign championing diversity during a march outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Canada’s mosaic is becoming more colourful with immigration near the highest levels in our history, Indigenous populations rapidly growing and more Canadians than ever before identifying as a visible minority.

Statistics Canada released its portrait of Canadian society Wednesday as part of the 2016 census. It shows 22.3 per cent of Canadians identified themselves as part of a visible minority. In 1981, when the agency first began collecting the information, only 4.7 per cent of Canadians identified themselves as part of a visible minority.

Statistics Canada estimates that with current trends continuing by 2036, visible minorities will represent as much as 35.9 per cent of the population.

The Indigenous population in Canada also jumped rising 42 per cent over the last decade to nearly 1.7 million people in Canada

Hélène Maheux an analyst with Statistics Canada said 21.9 per cent of people identified as immigrants in the census the highest it has been since 1921.

“In 1921, just before that there was a huge boom of immigration in the west where we encouraged a large number of immigrants to settle in that part of the country.”

She said after that boom, Canada largely closed the door for decades before gradually allowing re-opening them and admitting more people.

“We know that over the last 30 years, the number of immigrants Canada has admitted is very high,” she said.

Over the last five years 1.2 million new immigrants have arrived in Canada with the Philippines, India, China, Iran and Pakistan the largest source countries.

The largest ethnicity that people report to census takers remains simply Canadian with more than 11 million people reporting that way, which typically means their families have been in Canada going back three generations or more. After Canadian, English, Scottish, French Irish and German ancestry was the most commonly reported, followed by Chinese, which is the largest visible minority group in Canada

Maheux said that many people report multiple ancestries and visible minority communities are not all immigrants.

“We need to remember that three in ten visible minorities are born in Canada.”

Statistics Canada counts 250 ethnic origins in the country, having add ten new group since the last census. The agency adds a new ethnic group to the census if the population of that group is higher than 800

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