The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar
Statistics Canada latest release shows we hail from 250 different ethnic origins. We talk a good game about multiculturalism, but the numbers show that now we need to learn to be truly representational.
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The colourful town square just got noisier.
Toronto is a minority majority city at last, fully 51.5 per cent of us identify as visible minorities, and almost half, or 48.8 per cent do so in the GTA.
“At last,” not because this fulfills a dire take-over-the-country prophecy by “foreigners” but because in a capitalist society, this was inevitable.
One in five people across the country are born outside it, the latest 2016 census from Statistics Canada shows .This isn’t new. In the early 1900s, a similar proportion of people were immigrants to the country. The difference this time is in the vast heterogeneity of their origins.
People come from 250 different ethnic origins across the country, the data shows. Asia is the biggest source of immigration, while newcomers from Africa, placed ahead of Europe for the first time.
The census is rarely just about numbers, about counting all the people and making sure they’re statistically correct. The data shows us who we are — not just what the colour of our skin is, or the faiths that we follow, but what values we truly cherish.
The data tells us stories.
There was heartening evidence of resilience; the news that Indigenous populations are seeing an unprecedented boom in the modern history of this land. This is due to higher fertility rates but also the willingness of more people to identify as one of the diverse Indigenous groups; either First Nation, Metis or Inuit.
It used to be that big cities — Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were the hubs for new immigrants, but that trend is changing, too, the data shows. The wave of recent immigrants to the Prairies more than doubled over the last 15 years.
Immigrants are going where the jobs are, and visible minorities could comprise fully one-third of Canadians by 2036.
We talk a good game about multiculturalism, but how representational are we?
The 2016 snapshot makes for a colourful portrait, and also offers an opportunity to consider: how are we going to get along?
Who gets to speak and how will voices at the margins of the town square move towards the centre? How will we make it work for everyone and not just to prop up a few?
The data offers a clear pointer to our first priority.
Non-Indigenous populations, or around 95 per cent of us, complicit in settler colonialism, owe much to those whose lands we enrich ourselves from.
While 1.7 million people identified as Indigenous in 2016, that number is projected to cross 2.5 million in the next 20 years.
Indigenous children account for more than half of kids under 4 who are in foster care. Twenty per cent of Indigenous people live in a dwelling in need of “major repairs,” compared with 6 per cent of the non-Indigenous population.
Their median personal income is just $25,526, compared with $34,604 for non-Indigenous people, while nearly one-quarter live below Statistics Canada's poverty threshold.
Fixing these gaps will take billions of dollars. If we’re serious about reconciliation, we have to accept those investments are a moral responsibility.
They have sacrificed enough.