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Monday, September 29, 2003

Ethnic Diversity Survey

2002

Immigrants were more likely than people born in Canada to report a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group, according to new data from the Ethnic Diversity Survey. Also, the participation of immigrants to all types of groups and organizations increased with time spent in Canada.

The Ethnic Diversity Survey was developed to provide information on the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of people in Canada, and how these backgrounds relate to their lives today.

Immigrants, especially those who had recently arrived, were also more likely to indicate that their ethnic or cultural ancestry was important to them.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of immigrants who arrived in Canada from 1991 to 2001 rated at least one of their ancestral origins as important, compared with 65% of immigrants who came prior to 1991, 57% of the second generation in Canada (those born in Canada with at least one foreign-born parent) and 44% of those who were in Canada three generations or more (people born in Canada to two Canadian-born parents).

Immigrants, regardless of time of arrival in Canada, were also more likely to participate in ethnic or immigrant associations than were Canadian-born people. About 6% of immigrants were members of, or participated in, these organizations, compared with 1% of those who were two or more generations in Canada.

The survey also asked whether people had been discriminated against or treated unfairly in Canada in the past five years because of their ethnicity, culture, race, skin colour, language, accent or religion.

The vast majority of all Canadians aged 15 and over (93% or 20.4 million) said they had never, or rarely, experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their ethno-cultural characteristics. However, some people were more likely than others to report such treatment.

Although 80% of people who were part of a visible minority did not report discrimination or unfair treatment or said it had occurred only rarely, 20% did report having been discriminated against or treated unfairly sometimes or often in the five years prior to the survey because of their ethno-cultural characteristics. In contrast, 5% of people who were not part of a visible minority said they had been discriminated against or treated unfairly sometimes or often.


Note to readers

The Ethnic Diversity Survey was developed by Statistics Canada, in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, to provide information on the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of people in Canada and how these backgrounds relate to their lives today.

The survey covered topics such as ethnic or cultural ancestry and identity, family background, religion, language use, social networks, interaction with others and civic participation.

The survey was conducted from April to August 2002. About 42,500 people aged 15 and over were interviewed by telephone in the 10 provinces.


Ethnic make-up: One-half of the population report British, French or Canadian ancestries

The Ethnic Diversity Survey examined the ethno-cultural backgrounds of Canada's non-Aboriginal population aged 15 and over.

Of this population of about 22.4 million, nearly one-half (46%), or about 10.3 million, reported only British Isles, French and/or Canadian ethnic or cultural origins. The largest proportion - 21% of the total population aged 15 years and older - was comprised of those of only British ancestry. An additional 10% of the total population reported only French origins, including French Canadian; 8% reported Canadian origins; and 7% had a mix of British, French and/or Canadian origins.

The next largest proportion of Canada's population was comprised of the descendants of other Europeans. About 4.3 million people, or about one-fifth (19%) of those aged 15 and over, had only European ancestry (other than British and French origins).

People of non-European descent accounted for 13% of the population aged 15 and over, or 2.9 million. The most frequent origins were Chinese and East Indian. (Non-Europeans have origins in places such as Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and Oceania.)

In addition, 22% of the population aged 15 and over, or 4.9 million, reported other mixed ethnic heritages, or did not know their ethnic ancestry.

Portrait of the population by generation

Canada is a multicultural society whose ethnic makeup has been shaped over time by different waves of immigrants and their descendents, as well as by the Aboriginal peoples of the country.

The ethno-cultural make-up of the population varied considerably according to the number of generations an individual's ancestors had lived in Canada, reflecting the origins of various waves of immigrants who have settled in Canada over time. The Ethnic Diversity Survey makes a distinction between first generation, second generation and third-plus generation Canadians.

In 2002, almost one-quarter (23%) of Canada's population aged 15 and over, or 5.3 million people, were first generation, that is, they were born outside Canada. Not since 1931 has the proportion of people born outside the country been this high.

Nearly one-half (46%) of the first generation in Canada, or 2.4 million people, had only non-European ethnic ancestry in 2002, while about one-third (31%) had only European ancestry (other than British or French). Another 13% reported only British, French and/or Canadian origins and 10% reported other origins.

The second generation comprised 3.9 million individuals who were Canadian-born but had at least one parent born outside Canada. They accounted for 17% of the total population aged 15 and over in 2002. Unlike the first generation, the second generation included a small proportion of those with only non-European ancestry (10%).

About 36% of the second generation, or 1.4 million people, reported only European ethnic origins (other than British or French), while 14%, or 558,000, reported other European origins in combination with British, French and/or Canadian ancestry. About one-third (32%) of the second generation reported British, French and/or Canadian ancestries only: 24% had only British origins and 8% had French, Canadian, or a combination of these origins. Another 8% of the second generation reported other ancestries, or did not know their ancestry.

At 13.0 million, the third-plus generation is the largest group, representing 58% of people in Canada aged 15 and older. These people were born in Canada to two Canadian-born parents (and possibly Canadian-born grandparents as well). The majority of the third-plus generation reported only British, French and/or Canadian origins (8.3 million or 63%). Specifically, 25% reported only British origins, 16% reported only French origins, 13% reported Canadian origins, and 9% reported a mix of these origins.

An additional 15%, or 2 million, of the third-plus generation reported British, French and/or Canadian ancestry in combination with other European origins, while 10% reported only other European origins. The remaining 12% reported other origins or did not know their ancestry.

First generation had strongest sense of belonging to ethnic group

One-half (50%) of the population aged 15 and over had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group(s), according to the Ethnic Diversity Survey.

Sense of belonging to one's ethnic group was strongest among the first generation, particularly those who were relative newcomers to Canada.

About 62% of immigrants who arrived from 1991 to 2001 reported a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group, compared with 55% of those who came to Canada prior to 1991.

A slightly lower proportion of the second (47%) and third-plus generations (48%) reported a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group.

This finding may not be surprising, given that recently arrived immigrants likely maintain closer ties to their countries of origin during the initial settlement period in Canada. As well, according to results from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants, recent immigrants often settle in the same areas as their families and friends, who are likely of the same ethnic or cultural background. This may help them to maintain a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group.

Sense of belonging also varied from one ethnic group to another. For example, 78% of those with Filipino ancestry reported a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group, as did 65% of East Indians and 65% of Portuguese. In contrast just 36% of Dutch, 33% of Germans and 33% of Ukrainians reported a strong sense of belonging. This likely reflects the longer history these groups have in Canada.

Among most ethnic groups, the first generation had a stronger sense of belonging than did later generations. For example, among those of Chinese ancestry, 60% of those who arrived in Canada from 1991 to 2001 reported a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group, compared with 58% of those who came before 1991, and 52% of those who were two or more generations in Canada.

Of those reporting German ancestry, 39% of the first generation reported a strong sense of belonging, compared with 33% of those in Canada for two or more generations. Among Italians, 62% of the first generation, compared with 54% of those in Canada for two or more generations, had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic group.

"Canadian" identity increases with generations in Canada

In addition to asking about ethnic ancestry, the Ethnic Diversity Survey also asked people to report their own ethnic or cultural identity. This may be the same as, or different from, the ancestry of their parents and grandparents.

While many different ancestries were reported when people were asked about their ethnic heritage, 11.6 million people, or 55% of the population aged 15 and older, said that Canadian was either their only ethnic identity, or was reported along with other identities in 2002.

In addition to the reporting of Canadian ethnic identity, provincial or regional identities, such as Acadian, Newfoundlander or Québécois, were also reported in the survey. For example, 37% of Quebec's population aged 15 years and older reported Québécois, either as their only ethnic identity or alongside other identities. Acadian was reported by 6% of the population aged 15 and older in the Atlantic provinces. Newfoundlander was reported by 38% of the population in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The reporting of Canadian and provincial or regional ethnic identities increased with the number of generations a person's family had lived here. In 2002, 40% of the first generation said that their ethnic identity included Canadian or a provincial or regional identity, compared with 78% of those in the second generation and 80% of those in the third-plus generation.

The reporting of Canadian and provincial or regional ethnic identities was most common among those who reported British, French and/or Canadian ancestry, most of whom were two or more generations in Canada. According to the survey, 79% of those who reported British, French and/or Canadian ethnic ancestries reported a Canadian, provincial or regional ethnic identity. In contrast, 65% of those reporting other European ancestry only and 35% of those reporting only non-European ancestry reported Canadian, provincial or regional ethnic identities.

Participation in organizations increases with time in Canada

The Ethnic Diversity Survey asked questions about participation in groups or organizations in the 12 months prior to the survey as one measure of the integration of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds in the broader Canadian society. The survey asked about membership and participation in ethnic or immigrant associations as well as in other groups or organizations such as sports teams, hobby clubs and community organizations.

The first generation, regardless of time of arrival in Canada, was more likely than other generations to have participated in ethnic or immigrant associations in the year prior to the survey. About 6% of immigrants were members of or participated in these organizations. In comparison, just 2% of the second generation and 1% of the third-plus generation participated in ethnic or immigrant associations.

However, when all types of groups or organizations are considered, recent arrivals who had immigrated to Canada in the past 10 years were less likely to participate in groups or organizations in Canada, than were immigrants who had lived here for more than 10 years and people who were born here. This may be because new immigrants to Canada need time to adjust to their new country, establish networks and settle into new jobs and their community.

In the year prior to the survey, 34% of those who had immigrated to Canada from 1991 to 2001 were members of, or had participated in, all groups or organizations. In contrast, 41% of those who had immigrated to Canada before 1991, 49% of the second generation and 48% of the third-plus generation, were members or participants.

Visible minorities and discrimination or unfair treatment

The survey asked respondents whether they felt they had experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly by others in Canada in the five years prior to the survey because of their ethnicity, culture, race, skin colour, language, accent or religion. If respondents said they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment, they were then asked how often they felt they had experienced this: often, sometimes or rarely.

The vast majority of Canadians (93%) aged 15 and over said that they had never, or rarely, experienced discrimination in the past five years because of their ethno-cultural characteristics. However, 7%, or an estimated 1.6 million Canadians aged 15 and over, said they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the past five years sometimes or often because of these characteristics.

Perceived discrimination or unfair treatment varied by visible minority status, according to the survey. Visible minorities are defined, according to the Employment Equity Act, as "persons other than the Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race and non-white in colour." In 2002, Canada's 3 million people who were part of a visible minority represented 13% of the non-Aboriginal population aged 15 and over. The majority (84%) of people in visible minorities were first generation Canadians.

One-in-five (20%) people aged 15 and over who were part of a visible minority, or an estimated 587,000 people, said they felt that they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment sometimes or often in the five years prior to the survey because of their ethnicity, culture, race, skin colour, language, accent or religion.

For people in visible minorities, there was little variation in the levels of discrimination or unfair treatment by length of time, or generation, in Canada. About 20% of people in visible minorities who immigrated to Canada from 1991 to 2001 reported perceived discrimination or unfair treatment sometimes or often, compared with 21% of people in visible minorities who came prior to 1991 and 18% who were two or more generations in Canada.

In contrast, 5% of the population aged 15 and over who did not identify as part of a visible minority, or an estimated 982,000 people, reported that discrimination or unfair treatment had occurred sometimes or often. A higher proportion (9%) of those who were not part of a visible minority and had immigrated to Canada between 1991 and 2001 reported discrimination or unfair treatment.

Of the groups included in the visible minority population, Blacks were more likely to report feeling that they had been discriminated against or treated unfairly by others because of their ethno-cultural characteristics.

Nearly one-third (32%) of Blacks, or an estimated 135,000, said that they had had these experiences sometimes or often in the past five years, compared with 21% of South Asians and 18% of Chinese.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4508.

The publication Ethnic Diversity Survey: Portrait of a multicultural society (89-593-XIE, free) is now available on Statistics Canada's website. From the Our products and services page, under Browse our Internet publications, choose Free, then Population and demography.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications Division.

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