Shree Paradkar: Census vastly undercounts Indigenous population in Toronto, study says

One of the harder groups for StatsCan to count despite their ongoing efforts, with this alternative study being instructive in terms of the possible gap:

For decades, Indigenous communities have said their numbers are far higher than reported by government agencies.

Not so, according to officialdom.

“Always our studies in the past have been critiqued or undermined as not having a scientifically sound approach,” says Sara Wolfe, founding partner of Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, which caters to Indigenous mothers and babies.

“Or there’s been concerns about bias or questioning of the relevance… of the study that’s been done.”

The tables were turned recently.

The census released in October pegged Toronto’s Indigenous population at 23,065, up from the 19,270 census estimate in 2011.

Not so, says a new study that confirms what Indigenous people have been saying all along.

The study by researchers from York University and St. Michael’s Hospital, in collaboration with Indigenous agencies, was published in the British Medical Journal Open.

It says the census — that gold standard in population counting — vastly underestimated the Indigenous population in Toronto. The study’s most conservative assumption places it between 45,000 and 73,000 people, or two to four times the 2011 census estimate.

This finding has major implications, particularly in funding for health care and community services.

Statistics Canada is receptive to the study. The agency’s chief priority is accuracy and precision, said Marc Hamel, director-general of the census program.

When there are reports of discrepancies, “we review all the processes we have internally. We also try to work with these groups to better understand the way the study was conducted,” he said. “We always have to be careful when we compare results from different studies because different methodologies are being used, different concepts.”

Lead scientist Janet Smylie, from St. Michael’s Hospital, and lead author of the study Michael Rotondi, a York University professor, employed a statistical method called respondent-driven sampling, which leveraged the inherently strong social networking of Indigenous populations.


Specifically, 20 people called “seeds” completed the survey and were given five uniquely coded coupons. They gave these to other Aboriginal people who then filled the survey, and those people gave out coupons to others in their social networks, and so on.It allowed Indigenous community members to recruit each other for the study which then reached a large sample of more than 900 adults.

“This helps better track Indigenous community members who might be homeless and otherwise unstably housed,” says Rotondi.

They partnered with Wolfe’s midwifery clinic, which led a multi-agency collaboration to plan the questions, recruit trained Indigenous interviewers and disseminate the survey that took more than an hour to complete.

The census, on the other hand, uses the concept of usual residence and is based on private dwellings.

“It doesn’t measure, for example, where people would be temporarily residing for whatever purpose, whether it be work, school or receive certain types of services,” says Hamel.

“The census is never perfect, like any study. We know we have unaccounted populations. We have measures to identify and account and to make adjustments to the population estimation programs that are used by the government to make decisions.”

The survey included a question of whether or not the respondents had completed the 2011 census.

“Even under a conservative model we were able to say only about 19 per cent (of individuals) had even completed the census,” Rotondi says.

“One of the big reasons is people don’t trust governments, long forms and mandatory surveys,” says Wolfe, who is Ojibwe from Brunswick House First Nation and was the community lead for the study.

“We might be afraid to tell someone on the phone that says they’re from the government that we’re Indigenous,” says Smylie, who is Métis. “We might purposely not want to participate. We might be opting out because we feel socially excluded or frustrated with the government. Or, it’s not on our priority list ’cause we’re too busy trying to get enough groceries on our shelf and we’re running around and didn’t even know the census was happening. Or (we’re) renting a room somewhere or couch surfing.”

These were some of the barriers the respondent-driven sampling broke down.

The impact of this study will be tremendous and long-term, the researchers say.

“It doesn’t mean that just because there are more Indigenous people everyone’s going to have to pay more taxes. It could mean if we’re counting properly (and allocating correctly) we’re paying less taxes,” said Smylie.

“This is irrefutable evidence,” said Wolfe. “There’s no way you can say the population is not this big any more.”

This is relevant because, “Indigenous people are not getting asked for input and consulted on the decisions being made… because there’s a presumption that we are not a significant or substantial portion of the population,” says Wolfe.

Why does it matter if the people accessing care are Indigenous as long as they have access to it? Two reasons: to counter ongoing racism and to redress intergenerational trauma produced by historic wrongs.

In a report titled First Peoples, Second Class Treatment, Smylie says she wrote that if you’re a First Nation person living in the province of Alberta having a heart attack, “you’re less likely to get a picture of your heart, called a coronary angiogram, and more likely to die just because you’re First Nation. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or a rural area or if you’re rich or poor.”

Residential schools, the last of which closed 20 years ago, left Indigenous people with a painful legacy. Abuses that are only just being seriously documented have left a community history of complex trauma.

“That might be something you’d need specialized services and responses,” said Smylie. “We also know that some Indigenous people benefit greatly from access to traditional healing and traditional counseling and a revitalization of Indigenous culture.”

Says Wolfe: “Everyone needs to make a concerted effort to work together to close these (health) gaps so we can have as good a chance as everyone else in society to reach our full potential.”

Source: Shree Paradkar: Census vastly undercounts Indigenous population in Toronto, study says

Why Asking About Citizenship Could Make the Census Less Accurate – The New York Times

Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A. on the US Census citizenship question along with a study that shows how distrust plays out in different states, reflecting the particular political climate:

It’s a question that used to be on the national census every decade:whether you were a citizen of the United States.

But the Justice Department’s request to return it to the 2020 census for all respondents has unsettled demographic experts as well as advocates of voting rights and immigrants, who say it could lead Hispanic people to avoid being counted. Are they overreacting to a simple question?

We can’t say at this point what the electoral consequences would be, but it’s likely to lead to undercounting. The Census Bureau itself estimates that the 2010 census failed to find 1.5 percent of the Hispanic population. Research conducted that year suggests that Hispanic trust in the census may have been undermined. And from the start of his candidacy up through his reported vulgar remarks last week about Haiti and African countries, President Trump has been fanning anti-immigrant sentiment nationwide.

The Justice Department says it wants to add the question to aid its defense of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (which prevents the dilution of minority populations so their power cannot be weakened).

Supporters of adding the question say it shouldn’t be a problem because the citizenship question has since 2000 been asked on a smaller, recurring census-sponsored survey, the American Community Survey, and because the anonymity protections are strong. But the trouble is that today, everything even remotely political has become a battle over what it means to be an American.

Responding to both the census and the A.C.S. is the law of the land — you must do it or you could be fined. The data collected determines how a lot of money is allocated, as well as the allocation of House seats (and therefore Electoral College votes).

The more people who fail to respond, the more concern there is that we are missing some groups of people more than others, and that the failure to return the form among these group members is not random.

The government dedicates tremendous resources to reminding people to return their census form and even sends people to the doors of households from which no form has been filed. Mostly, it gets results. But if the reason for not filling it out is distrust of government, additional efforts at compliance by government might fall flat.

For the 2010 census, the Spanish-language television network Telemundo sought to improve census participation by writing a story line into one of its most popular telenovelas, “Más Sabe el Diablo.” In it, the character Perla meets a Latino census worker at her father’s empanada stand and is encouraged to apply for a job with the census. The plot shows Perla being trained and learning about why the census asks the questions it does and how it safeguards confidentiality. The idea was that a popular character on a TV show could do more to assuage the fears of a community than the government could.

Matthew Trujillo, currently at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Elizabeth Paluck, a Princeton University psychologist and recent MacArthur Award winner, studied the network’s efforts. Mr. Trujillo and Ms. Paluckasked 121 Spanish-speaking Latino adults across three states to watch either a four-minute clip from “Más Sabe” that showed Perla talking about the importance of completing the census or one that included Perla talking only about family. One of the states was Arizona, which had just passed a law requiring police officers, in the course of an unrelated investigation, to investigate a “reasonable suspicion” that a person was in the country illegally.

Subjects in the experiment completed a survey before and after watching one of the clips. (Which one they watched was determined at random.) Upon leaving the lab, they were able to take a flier about the census and choose either a generic “Latino Pride” or census-specific “Be Counted” sticker.

The results of the test showed that people who saw the census story line were more likely to have positive attitudes toward the government generally — unless they lived in Arizona.Latino residents there, under threat from the newly passed law, were not moved by Perla’s story line.

The study also revealed that, on average, seeing Perla’s experience with the census made people, including those in Arizona, more aware of it. They were also more curious: 86 percent took a flier about the census as they left, compared with 69 percent of people who saw the other clip. Finally, the census clip prompted more people to take and wear the “Be Counted” sticker as they left — if they lived in Texas or New Jersey. In Arizona, people in both groups avoided the “Latino Pride” sticker.

The results suggest that if Latinos in the United States feel generally threatened by the Trump administration, it may be hard to persuade them to overcome their negative views of government and return the 2020 census.

California officials are so worried about Latino nonparticipation — and the potential loss of a seat in Congress and billions of federal dollars — that they are discussing aggressive multilingual advertising campaigns.

In the 2010 Telemundo study, it mattered a bit how much people liked Perla as a character. This is both good news and bad news for the Census Bureau as it faces 2020. With TV content booming, there is no shortage of popular characters who could be seen talking about the census.

On the other hand, today’s networks may be reluctant to participate the way Telemundo did in 2010. Given the current climate, even they may be unsure of the government’s intentions, particularly as it relates to those who are undocumented or whose national origin may not be in keeping with the president’s view of being American.

via Why Asking About Citizenship Could Make the Census Less Accurate – The New York Times

Trump’s revenge on California: The Census – POLITICO

The US Census and the fear regarding the possible  impact of the addition of a citizenship question on California and other states:

Fear is rising among Democrats over the prospect that President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration might ultimately cost California a seat in Congress during the upcoming round of reapportionment.

Top Democrats here are increasingly worried the administration’s restrictive policies — and the potential inclusion of a question about citizenship on the next U.S. census — could scare whole swaths of California’s large immigrant population away from participating in the decennial count, resulting in an undercount that could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade and, perhaps, the loss of one of its 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The fears are well-founded: According to the population formula used by Congress to distribute House seats every 10 years, California is currently on the bubble in 2020, on the verge of losing a seat for the first time in its history.

California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, on Wednesday proposed spending more than $40 million on the state’s own census-related outreach efforts to avoid that fate.

“There’s a lot of fear” about the census count, said Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc., the voter data firm used by both Republicans and Democrats in California. “The state is starting to get together resources, because it does have an actual direct impact … on state revenues if we have a severe undercount.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told POLITICO the Trump administration’s management of the census could have “devastating effects” on his state.

“The citizenship question is just the latest red flag — maybe one of the biggest — but just the latest red flag,” Padilla said.

Angst about the 2020 census took hold nationally long before the Justice Department urged the U.S. Census Bureau last month to ask people about their citizenship, a request first reported by ProPublica. The bureau has been hampered by management questions and funding shortages that voting-rights advocates fear could hinder efforts to reach immigrants and other hard-to-count groups.

Those populations are especially prevalent in California. And even before Trump’s latest broadside at immigrant communities — asking why the United States should admit people from “shithole countries” — Democrats and voting-rights advocates warned that Trump’s rhetoric on immigration could chill participation.

“It’s already a toxic environment coming forward from D.C.,” said Daniel Zingale, of the nonpartisan advocacy group The California Endowment. “When you add up all of these things — the abandonment of competent leadership, the proposed citizenship question, the hostile environment toward a state like ours and our diverse population, it is perceived here as a less than act of good faith coming from Washington, D.C.”

Zingale added, “I think Californians have never felt less represented in the national capital than we’re feeling right now.”

According to a study last month by Virginia-based Election Data Services, California could come “very close” to losing a congressional seat following the 2020 census regardless of immigrant participation in the count, a result of the state’s flattening population growth.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas could all gain seats, according to the study, while eight or nine states, including New York, Illinois and West Virginia, could each lose one.

Yet uncertainty about demographic changes and the Trump administration’s handling of the census continues to cloud those projections. Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, cautioned in a prepared statement that “the change in administration and the lack of a Census Director could have a profound impact on how well the 2020 Census is conducted, and therefore the counts that are available for apportionment.”

The prospect of losing a congressional seat is a familiar predicament in Rust Belt states. But it’s unheard of in California, which has added 42 House seats since 1920 due to nearly nonstop population growth. In such a solidly blue state, the loss of a seat would have a disproportionate impact on the Democratic Party.

“If millions of non-citizens refuse to participate in the US Census, the Democrats will take [a] massive political beating,” Tony Quinn, a political analyst and former Republican legislative aide, wrote in the Fox & Hounds political blog last week. “That’s because electoral districts must be drawn based on population. The non-citizen population resides in heavily Democratic areas; if they are not counted, those areas will not have sufficient population to support Democratic congressional and legislative districts, especially in the big cities.”

Garry South, a longtime Democratic strategist, accused the White House of “trying to turn [the census] into essentially a gerrymandering process.”

The Trump administration has not yet moved to add a citizenship question to the census. And many Republicans, who have long called for its inclusion, downplayed concerns about a significant undercount in California or any other state.

Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney and member of the Republican National Committee, said that “by the time we have to get closer to actually performing [the census] … this is the type of thing where there’s a legion of bureaucrats who are tasked with doing this” and “it gets done somehow.”

In a state where Democrats control every statewide office and overwhelming majorities in the Legislature, Dhillon said Democrats can only blame themselves if California loses a House seat. More people would come to California or stay here, she said, if taxes and other regulatory burdens were not so high.

Taking aim at one liberal firebrand, Dhillon said, “My only request is if we end up losing a seat, if it could be taken from Maxine Waters’ congressional district.”

The results of the 2020 census on California’s congressional representation (which could also mean the loss of a vote in the Electoral College) will not be felt until after the next presidential election — an eternity in politics. But California politicians are acutely aware of the significance of the count, having been stung by the census before.

Following the 1990 census, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that a higher undercount in California than in other states — with difficulty counting non-white people, young people and renters, among others — “likely cost California one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and at least $2 billion in federal funds during the 1990s.”

Ten years later, the state undertook a more aggressive outreach effort of its own. In an effort similar to what California Democrats are contemplating today, the state employed local organizations to promote the census in their communities and financed a multilingual, multimedia advertising campaign.


USA: Adding Citizenship Question Risks ‘Bad Count’ For 2020 Census, Experts Warn

The best analysis and description I have seen regarding the concerns (non-issue in Canadian Census):

Many census experts say adding a citizenship question could throw a wrench into an already-complicated project.

“It certainly raises the level of risk of getting a bad count or a count that doesn’t that fairly represent everyone,” says John Thompson, a former Census Bureau director who left the agency last year.

Asking about citizenship is not new to the census. Census takers first asked about it in 1820 to tally up the number of “foreigners not naturalized.” While the topic has been included in questionnaires for smaller Census Bureau surveys, the last time all U.S. households were asked about it was in 1950, when the questionnaire included “If foreign born, is the person naturalized?

Over the years, Republican lawmakers in Congress have introduced proposals calling for citizenship questions to reappear on census questionnaires, including former Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

Some experts fear, however, that reintroducing a citizenship question to all census participants in 2020 could discourage people from participating at a time of growing distrust in sharing personal information with the government.

In a recent memo written by Census Bureau staffers, researchers said that survey takers conducting field tests last year noticed a “new phenomenon” of increased fear among immigrant participants, many of whom referenced concerns about the “Muslim ban” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Respondents reported being told by community leaders not to open the door without a warrant signed by a judge,” the researchers wrote in the memo, adding that they saw “respondents falsifying names, dates of birth, and other information on household rosters.”

A ‘chilling effect’?

Democratic lawmakers say they’re worried that a citizenship question would dampen census participation among not only non-citizen immigrants but also U.S. citizens from mixed-status families, who may worry about putting immigrant relatives without legal status at risk if they answer the government’s questions.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, has received a letter from a group of Democratic senators calling the Justice Department’s request “deeply troubling.” The signers include Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and two members of the Senate committee with oversight of the Census Bureau — Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

“This chilling effect could lead to broad inaccuracies across the board, from how congressional districts are drawn to how government funds are distributed,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Commerce Department declined to comment on the letter.

Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from releasing any data identifying an individual. But federal agencies and researchers can request census data on specific population groups.

“As we learn more and more about the ability to combine data from diverse sources, assuring protection of identities is known to be a very difficult task,” says Robert Groves, who served as the Census Bureau’s director under President Barack Obama until 2012.

These privacy concerns could raise costs for the Census Bureau, which sends census takers to visit households that do not initially respond to questionnaires. The Government Accountability Office has described this follow-up work the bureau’s “largest and most costly field operation.” For the 2010 census, it cost more than $2 billion in today’s dollars to visit around 50 million addresses, according to a recent GAO report.

A case for better data?

Many civil rights advocates are questioning the Justice Department’s reasoning for requesting a citizenship question.

Since the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, the federal government has enforced the law’s Section 2 protections against racial discrimination in voting using estimates of the number of voting-age citizens in the U.S. Those estimates have been based on data from either a small sample group of census participants who completed the so-called “long-form” questionnaire or, as in recent years, from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is sent every year to about one in 38 households.

“As I know from my prior experience as the chief government enforcer of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department has never needed to add this new question to the decennial census to enforce the Voting Rights Act before,” Vanita Gupta, who served in the Justice Department under President Obama and is now the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, writes in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Michael Li, a voting rights attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, adds: “None of the civil rights groups that routinely bring Section 2 claims around the country have been hankering for this change.”

Still, in its letter to the Census Bureau, the Justice Department argues that citizenship data collected through the census, which is conducted with every household in the U.S., would be more comprehensive than the data from the American Community Survey’s smaller sample of participants.

“I think the Justice Department is right in saying that they need accurate small-area statistics for certain voting rights cases, especially on citizenship,” says Thompson, a former Census Bureau director.

But he adds that he finds it “strange” that the Justice Department’s request did not acknowledge the potential risks from adding a citizenship question.

“It could very well introduce a large undercount of the non-citizen population, but I don’t think anyone knows that,” Thompson says. “But if I were making decisions, before I would put it on the census, I would want to know that.”

Asked if there’s any opportunity to know that at this point through research, he replied: “I don’t think so.”

There are more than two years until the next Census Day, which is scheduled for April 1, 2020. But the bureau faces a strict timeline until then to prepare for the count. It must submit all of the 2020 census questions to Congress by the end of March, the same month it is set to collect responses in Rhode Island’s Providence County in the last scheduled field test of how the 2020 census will be conducted.

If the Census Bureau does not include a citizenship question in its upcoming report to Congress, federal law does give Secretary Ross some wiggle room. Before the upcoming headcount begins, he can submit a separate report to add the question if he “finds new circumstances exist which necessitate” the change.

Source: Adding Citizenship Question Risks ‘Bad Count’ For 2020 Census, Experts Warn

The Trump administration pushes for a change that could derail the census – The Washington Post

Hard for a Canadian to understand what the fuss is about as citizenship has been a regular question on the Canadian Census for some time (although I do appreciate concerns about it being a last minute addition without testing):

PERHAPS NO institution is more important to the functioning of American democracy than the census, the once-a-decade count of the U.S. population that determines congressional representation — and where billions in federal dollars will be spent. Yet both the GOP-led Congress and the Trump administration have hobbled the 2020 Census effort, which is entering its crucial final stages. Lawmakers have underfunded the Census Bureau, the White House has mismanaged the agency, and now the Justice Department is pushing for a change that could skew the count in Republicans’ favor.

Investigative reporting organization ProPublica disclosed last week that a Justice Department official formally asked the Census Bureau to add a question to the 2020 Census. Adding any question at this stage would be dicey, given that the bureau often runs extensive field tests before fiddling with its forms, ensuring that last-minute changes do not throw off its counting efforts. Worse, the Justice Department requested that the bureau inquire about people’s citizenship status. This threatens to sabotage the 2020 count.

Asking about citizenship status would drive down response rates. Since its inception, the census has not only counted voters; it has taken a precise snapshot of everyone in the country. This helps government agencies to direct scarce dollars, and businesses to guide investment decisions. It is also crucial for doling out congressional representation. As the Supreme Court recently underscored, the Constitution requires that congressional seats be apportioned to states according to their total populations, not only their voting populations. Asking about citizenship status would deter undocumented people — or even legal immigrants who fear how far the Trump administration’s crackdown on foreigners will extend — from returning census forms. Many states — particularly blue states — could end up shortchanged.

The bureau’s charge to count everyone does not change when fewer people fill out their census forms. In that circumstance, the federal government would have to send out census takers to knock on doors and talk to neighbors. Costs would rise substantially, even for a potentially less accurate count. Congress’s shortsighted underfunding of the bureau has, perversely, already resulted in cost overruns, as investments in new techniques and technology were not made. Adding another challenge for the bureau to overcome could require lawmakers to pony up even more last-minute cash to save the count.

The Justice Department argues that it would be helpful in voting-rights cases to have reliable and accurate information on the voting-eligible population that extends far down into states and localities, collected simultaneously with other census statistics. Yet the department has relied on other, separately gathered census information about the voting-eligible population over the past decade. More exact data collected along with the rest of the decennial census would no doubt be helpful to Justice Department lawyers, but that interest is not as substantial as the threat that asking about citizenship status poses to the integrity of the count.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross should refuse to add a citizenship status question to the 2020 Census. If he does not, Congress should reject the change.

via The Trump administration pushes for a change that could derail the census – The Washington Post

USA: 2020 Census May Ask White People To Get Specific About Their Ethnicity | 90.1 FM WABE

Canada has collected ethnic origin/ancestry data for over 30 years:

“White” has been a constant of the U.S. census.

Other racial categories for the national headcount have come and gone over the centuries. But “white” has stuck ever since U.S. Marshals went door-to-door by horseback for the first census in 1790, tallying up the numbers of “free white males” and “free white females,” plus “all other free persons” and “slaves.”

Census takers determined who counted as “white” or any other race. That changed in 1960, when U.S. residents were first allowed to self-report their race. Since then, just answering “white” has been enough to respond to the race question.

But the upcoming census in 2020 may ask those who identify as white to explore their family tree to share their ethnic background as well. Anyone who checks off the “white” box could also mark boxes for groups such as “German,” “Irish” and “Polish” or write in another option.

That change depends partly on whether the White House approves proposals to modify how the federal government collects race and ethnicity data. They originated when President Obama was still in office, and now it’s up to the Trump administration to approve or reject them. If approved, the Census Bureau may move forward with this new way of asking people of all races about their identities on the 2020 questionnaire.

Friday is the deadline for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which sets standards for this kind of data for all federal agencies, to announce its decisions on the proposals. Any policy changes would come at a time of heightened awareness of white nationalist calls against multiculturalism and growing partisan divides over issues about race in the U.S.

Research by the Census Bureau suggests the proposals could produce a more accurate count in 2020. In a report released in February, the bureau’s researchers write that the suggested changes are responding to a public “call for more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities.”

‘It could change the discussion’

Asking white people about their ethnic background is not a new concept for the census. Recent census forms, including the questionnaire used in 2010, have asked all recipients about their ethnicity specifically in terms of “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” A question about a person’s ancestry or ethnic origin was first included in the 1980 Census and remained on some forms as recently as 2000. Past forms have asked for a person’s place of birth, the countries where the person’s mother and father were born and languages spoken other than English.

via 2020 Census May Ask White People To Get Specific About Their Ethnicity | 90.1 FM WABE

The Daily — Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census

The Daily’s summary of the Census findings regarding Indigenous peoples (assume StatsCan will eventually shift to that term):

Today, Statistics Canada is releasing its first results on First Nations people, Métis and Inuit from the 2016 Census of Population. Information about past and future releases from the census can be found through the 2016 Census Program release schedule.

Aboriginal peoples have lived in what is now Canada long before the arrival of the first European settlers. Indeed, the history of Canada would be incomplete without the stories of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit. The same is true of its future.

Past censuses have emphasized two key characteristics of the Aboriginal population: that Aboriginal peoples are both young in age and growing in number. The 2016 Census reaffirmed these trends. New data also reveal both the changing nature and the diversity of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations.

In 2016, there were 1,673,785 Aboriginal people in Canada, accounting for 4.9% of the total population. This was up from 3.8% in 2006 and 2.8% in 1996.

Since 2006, the Aboriginal population has grown by 42.5%—more than four times the growth rate of the non-Aboriginal population over the same period. According to population projections, the number of Aboriginal people will continue to grow quickly. In the next two decades, the Aboriginal population is likely to exceed 2.5 million persons.

Two main factors have contributed to the growing Aboriginal population: the first is natural growth, which includes increased life expectancy and relatively high fertility rates; the second factor relates to changes in self-reported identification. Put simply, more people are newly identifying as Aboriginal on the census—a continuation of a trend over time.

The First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations continue to be significantly younger than the non-Aboriginal population, with proportionally more children and youth and fewer seniors. However, they too are aging—in 2016, those 65 years of age and older accounted for a larger share of the Aboriginal population than in the past.

The data provide a portrait of the rich diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations. More than 70 Aboriginal languages were reported in the 2016 Census. Growth was observed in the Aboriginal population in urban areas, as well as First Nations people living on reserve and Inuit in Inuit Nunangat. Aboriginal children were more likely to live in a variety of family settings, such as multi-generational homes, where both parents and grandparents are present.

Rapid population growth among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit

The Aboriginal peoples of Canada—First Nations people, Métis and Inuit—include a diverse range of histories, cultures and languages.

The First Nations population—including both those who are registered or treaty Indians under the Indian Act and those who are not—grew by 39.3% from 2006 to reach 977,230 people in 2016.

The Métis population (587,545) had the largest increase of any of the groups over the 10-year span, rising 51.2% from 2006 to 2016.

The Inuit population (65,025) grew by 29.1% from 2006 to 2016.

The Aboriginal population is young but also aging

The Aboriginal population is young. The average age of the Aboriginal population was 32.1 years in 2016—almost a decade younger than the non-Aboriginal population (40.9 years).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Share (in percentage) of the population aged 0 to 14 years and 65 years and over by Aboriginal identity, Canada, 2016
Share (in percentage) of the population aged 0 to 14 years and 65 years and over by Aboriginal identity, Canada, 2016

Chart 1: Share (in percentage) of the population aged 0 to 14 years and 65 years and over by Aboriginal identity, Canada, 2016

As shown in the 2016 Census release on age and sex, seniors outnumbered children for the first time in Canada. This was not the case among Aboriginal peoples.

Around one-third of First Nations people (29.2%) were 14 years of age or younger in 2016—over four times the proportion of those 65 years of age and older (6.4%). For Métis, 22.3% of the population was 14 years of age or younger, compared with 8.7% who were 65 years of age and older. Among Inuit, one-third (33.0%) were 14 years of age or younger, while 4.7% were 65 years of age and older.

While the Aboriginal population is younger than the rest of the population in Canada, it is also aging. In 2006, 4.8% of the Aboriginal population was 65 years of age and older; by 2016, this proportion had risen to 7.3%. According to population projections, the proportion of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations 65 years of age and older could more than double by 2036.

First Nations population growing both on and off reserve

First Nations people possess a rich cultural heritage of diverse languages, histories and homelands. There are more than 600 unique First Nations/Indian Bands in Canada. The First Nations population includes those who are members of a First Nation/Indian Band and those who are not, as well as those with and without registered or treaty Indian status under the Indian Act.

The number of First Nations people with registered or treaty Indian status rose by 30.8% from 2006 to 2016. There were 744,855 First Nations people with registered or treaty Indian status in 2016, accounting for just over three-quarters (76.2%) of the First Nations population. The other 23.8%, which did not have registered or treaty Indian status, has grown by 75.1% since 2006 to 232,375 people in 2016.

Among the 744,855 First Nations people with registered or treaty Indian status, 44.2% lived on reserve in 2016, while the rest of the population lived off reserve. There was growth for both on reserve (+12.8%) and off reserve (+49.1%) First Nations populations from 2006 to 2016.

Over half of First Nations people live in the western provinces

The First Nations population was concentrated in the western provinces, with more than half of First Nations people living in British Columbia (17.7%), Alberta (14.0%), Manitoba (13.4%) and Saskatchewan (11.7%). By comparison, 30.3% of the non-Aboriginal population lived in the western provinces.

Almost one-quarter (24.2%) of the First Nations population lived in Ontario, the largest share among the provinces, while 9.5% lived in Quebec.

A further 7.5% of the First Nations population lived in the Atlantic provinces and 2.1% lived in the territories.

While First Nations people accounted for 2.8% of the total population of Canada, they accounted for one-tenth of the population in Saskatchewan (10.7%) and Manitoba (10.5%), and almost one-third of the population in the Northwest Territories (32.1%).

First Nations people accounted for a smaller share of the population in Quebec (1.2%), Ontario (1.8%) and the Atlantic provinces (3.2%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: First Nations population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016
First Nations population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016

Chart 2: First Nations population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016

First Nations population doubles in Atlantic Canada

While the First Nations population in the Atlantic provinces is relatively small (73,655 or 7.5% of the total First Nations population), it more than doubled (+101.6%) from 2006 to 2016. A significant part of this increase most likely stemmed from changes in self-reported identification, that is, people newly identifying as First Nations on the census.

Over this 10-year period, the First Nations population grew by 48.7% in Ontario and 37.5% in Quebec.

While the First Nations population grew at the slowest pace in Western Canada (+32.2%), the region saw the largest total increase in the First Nations population (+134,550) in Canada.

Ontario has the largest Métis population

Métis hold a unique cultural and historic place among the Aboriginal peoples in Canada, with distinct traditions, culture and language (Michif). Today, the Métis population is present in every province, territory and city in Canada.

There were 587,545 Métis in Canada in 2016, accounting for 1.7% of the total population.

Most (80.3%) of the Métis population lived in Ontario and the western provinces. For the first time, Ontario had the largest Métis population in Canada at 120,585, up 64.3% from 2006 and accounting for one-fifth (20.5%) of the total Métis population.

The Métis population grew by 32.9% in the western provinces from 2006 to 2016, to 351,020 people.

Alberta had the largest Métis population in the western provinces, accounting for 19.5% of the total Métis population. About the same number of Métis lived in Manitoba and British Columbia (15.2%), while Saskatchewan was home to 9.9% of the Métis population.

There were 69,360 Métis living in Quebec in 2016, accounting for 11.8% of the total Métis population. Meanwhile, 7.2% of the Métis population lived in the Atlantic provinces and 0.8% lived in the territories.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Métis population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016
Métis population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016

Chart 3: Métis population by provinces and territories, Canada, 2016

The Métis population grew at the fastest pace in Quebec (+149.2%) and the Atlantic provinces (+124.3%) from 2006 to 2016. Meanwhile, the Métis population grew by 64.3% in Ontario and by 32.9% in the western provinces. In the territories, the size of the Métis population was relatively unchanged from 10 years earlier.

Nearly two-thirds of Métis live in a metropolitan area

Of the three Aboriginal groups, Métis were the most likely to live in a city, with 62.6% living in a metropolitan area of at least 30,000 people.

There were eight metropolitan areas with a population of more than 10,000 Métis in 2016: Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa–Gatineau, Montréal, Toronto and Saskatoon. Combined, these areas accounted for just over one-third (34.0%) of the entire Métis population.

Winnipeg had the largest Métis population at 52,130 in 2016, up 28.0% from a decade earlier.

Almost three-quarters of Inuit live in Inuit Nunangat

Inuit are the original people of the North American Arctic. In Canada, Inuit have inhabited communities stretching from the westernmost Arctic to the eastern shores of Newfoundland and Labrador for uncounted generations. This area, known as Inuit Nunangat, refers not only to the land, but also to the surrounding water and ice, which Inuit consider to be integral to their culture and way of life. For more information, please visit the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami website.

There were 65,025 Inuit in Canada in 2016, up 29.1% from 2006. Close to three-quarters (72.8%) of Inuit lived in Inuit Nunangat.

Map 1  Thumbnail for map 1: Inuit population by residence inside or outside Inuit Nunangat, 2016
Inuit population by residence inside or outside Inuit Nunangat, 2016

Thumbnail for map 1: Inuit population by residence inside or outside Inuit Nunangat, 2016

Among Inuit in Inuit Nunangat, the majority (63.7% or 30,140) lived in Nunavut in 2016, while one-quarter (24.9%) lived in Nunavik, whose communities encircle the western, northern and northeastern coastlines of Quebec. Another 6.6% lived in the Inuvialuit region, which is located in the Western Arctic, while 4.8% lived in the communities of Nunatsiavut, along the northeastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Inuit population by Inuit area of residence, 2006 and 2016
Inuit population by Inuit area of residence, 2006 and 2016

Chart 4: Inuit population by Inuit area of residence, 2006 and 2016

Inuit population growing inside and outside Inuit Nunangat

From 2006 to 2016, the Inuit population grew by 20.1% inside Inuit Nunangat. Outside of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit population grew by 61.9%.

Among the four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit population grew the fastest in Nunavik (+23.3%) and Nunavut (+22.5%) over the 10-year period. In Nunatsiavut, the Inuit population grew by 6.0%, while in the Inuvialuit region the population was relatively unchanged.

Outside of Inuit Nunangat, the highest proportion of Inuit lived in the Atlantic provinces (30.6%). Most Inuit in the Atlantic provinces lived in Newfoundland and Labrador (23.5%), which accounted for almost one-quarter of the population of Inuit outside of Inuit Nunangat.

Over one in five Inuit (21.8%) outside of Inuit Nunangat lived in Ontario, while 28.7% lived in the western provinces. Just over 1in 10 (12.1%) lived in Quebec, while 6.8% lived in the Northwest Territories (not including the Inuvialuit region) and Yukon.

Many Inuit, outside of those living in Inuit Nunangat, lived in a city. Outside of Inuit Nunangat, 56.2% of Inuit lived in a metropolitan area of at least 30,000 people. Of Inuit living outside of Inuit Nunangat, the largest Inuit populations were in Ottawa–Gatineau (1,280), Edmonton (1,110) and Montréal (975).

The Aboriginal population living in metropolitan areas is growing

The increase in the urban population of Aboriginal peoples has been taking place for decades in Canada. This change has often been misunderstood simply as the movement by First Nations people away from reserves and into cities. In fact, the First Nations population continues to grow both on and off reserve.

Like the overall population growth of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit, the urbanization of Aboriginal peoples in Canada is due to multiple factors—including demographic growth, mobility and changing patterns of self-reported identity.

In 2016, 867,415 Aboriginal people lived in a metropolitan area of at least 30,000 people, accounting for over half (51.8%) of the total Aboriginal population. From 2006 to 2016, the number of Aboriginal people living in a metropolitan area of this size increased by 59.7%.

The census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Winnipeg (92,810), Edmonton (76,205), Vancouver (61,460) and Toronto (46,315) had the largest Aboriginal populations. Among all CMAs, Aboriginal people accounted for the highest proportion of the population in Thunder Bay (12.7%), Winnipeg (12.2%) and Saskatoon (10.9%).

Chart 5  Chart 5: Number of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit by selected census metropolitan areas, 2016
Number of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit by selected census metropolitan areas, 2016

Chart 5: Number of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit by selected census metropolitan areas, 2016

The Aboriginal population more than doubled in seven CMAs from 2006 to 2016: St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton, Québec, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Barrie. Among all CMAs, the Aboriginal population grew the fastest in St. John’s (+237.3%), Halifax (+199.0%) and Moncton (+197.9%).

Over the same period, Aboriginal population growth was slowest in Regina (+26.4%), Winnipeg (+37.1%) and Saskatoon (+45.4%). However, even in Regina, where Aboriginal population growth was the slowest among all CMAs, the Aboriginal population grew at a faster pace than the non-Aboriginal population.

Aboriginal children more likely to live in a family with at least one grandparent

Understanding the characteristics of young children aged 0 to 4 years is important, as early childhood experiences influence not only current but also future well-being.

There were 145,645 Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4 years enumerated in the 2016 Census, accounting for 8.7% of the total Aboriginal population. Of this group, 60.1% lived with two parents.

Just over one-third (34.0%) of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4 years lived with a lone parent. First Nations children aged 0 to 4 years (38.9%) were the most likely to live with a lone parent, followed by Métis (25.5%) and Inuit (26.5%) children in the same age group. However, many children living with a lone parent also lived with grandparent(s). In 2016, 10.5% of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4 were living with a lone parent and grandparent(s).

About one in six (17.9%) Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4 lived with grandparent(s) in 2016, either with a parent present or without. Inuit children in this age group were most likely to live with grandparent(s) (22.8%), followed by First Nations (21.2%) and Métis (10.5%) children.

For more information on the family characteristics of young Aboriginal children, see the article “Diverse family characteristics of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4“.

More than 70 Aboriginal languages reported

Language both shapes and is shaped by the culture to which it belongs. Aboriginal languages—grouped into 12 language families—have been central to the history of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit in Canada and continue to play a vital role to this day.

There is a great diversity of Aboriginal languages in Canada. There were more than 70 distinct Aboriginal languages reported in the 2016 Census, more than 30 of which had at least 500 speakers.

There were 260,550 Aboriginal people who could speak an Aboriginal language in 2016, up 3.1% from 2006.

In general, the number of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit who could speak an Aboriginal language was higher than the number with an Aboriginal mother tongue. This suggests that people are learning an Aboriginal language as a second language.

The article “The Aboriginal languages of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit” contains more information on the diversity of Aboriginal languages in Canada.

Source: The Daily — Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census

The Daily — Immigration and ethnocultural diversity: Key results from the 2016 Census

On Census Day, 21.9% of the population reported they were or had ever been a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada. This proportion is close to the 22.3% recorded during the 1921 Census, the highest level since Confederation.

In 2016, Canada had 1,212,075 new immigrants who had permanently settled in Canada from 2011 to 2016. These recent immigrants represented 3.5% of Canada’s total population in 2016.

The majority (60.3%) of these new immigrants were admitted under the economic category, 26.8% were admitted under the family class to join family already in the country, and 11.6% were admitted to Canada as refugees.

For the first time, Africa ranks second, ahead of Europe, as a source continent of recent immigrants to Canada, with a share of 13.4% in 2016. Asia (including the Middle East) remains, however, the top source continent of recent immigrants. In 2016, the majority (61.8%) of newcomers were born in Asia.

Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal are still the place of residence of over half of all immigrants and recent immigrants to Canada. More immigrants are settling in the Prairies and in the Atlantic provinces.

In addition to contributing to the social and economic development of the country, immigrants and their descendants play a significant role in shaping and enriching the ethnic, cultural and linguistic composition of the Canadian population. The 2016 Census results released today show the various facets of diversity in Canada.

More than one in five Canadians are foreign-born

According to the 2016 Census, there were 7,540,830 foreign-born individuals who came to Canada through the immigration process, representing over one-fifth (21.9%) of Canada’s total population. This proportion is close to the 22.3% recorded during the 1921 Census, the highest level since Confederation.

The proportion of the foreign-born population was much lower from 1951 to 1991, when it ranged from 14.7% to 16.1%. Since then, this proportion has been continually rising, to 19.8% in the 2006 Census and 20.6% in the 2011 National Household Survey.

This increasing share is due to the large number of immigrants admitted into Canada each year, the gradual rise in the number of deaths and the relatively low fertility levels in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada’s population projections, the proportion of Canada’s foreign-born population could reach between 24.5% and 30.0% by 2036.

Figure 1: Number and proportion of foreign-born population in Canada, 1871 to 2036

About 6 in 10 recent immigrants were admitted under the economic category

With the 2016 Census, it is now possible to classify immigrants admitted to Canada since 1980 by various admission categories.

In Canada, immigrants are selected based on three main objectives: to enhance and promote economic development; to reunite families; and to fulfill the country’s international obligations and uphold its humanitarian tradition.

Among recent immigrants living in Canada in 2016, approximately 6 in 10 were admitted under the economic category, when principal applicants, spouses and dependants were taken into account. Almost half (48.0%) of recent economic immigrants were admitted through the skilled workers program and more than a quarter (27.3%) under the provincial and territorial nominees program.

Furthermore, nearly 3 in 10 recent immigrants were admitted under the family class to join family already in the country, and approximately 1 in 10 recent immigrants were admitted to Canada as refugees.

Refugees accounted for a higher proportion (24.1%) of immigrants admitted from January 1 to May 10, 2016, as a result of the many Syrian refugees who landed during this period.

The situation is different for immigrants who were admitted during the 1980s and were still living in Canada in 2016. A smaller proportion were economic immigrants: 4 in 10 immigrants were admitted under this category, while over 3 in 10 immigrants were sponsored by family, and approximately 2 in 10 immigrants were refugees.

Figure 2: Distribution (in percentage) of immigrants living in Canada, by admission category and year of immigration, 2016

Additional information is available in the infographic “Gateways to Immigration in Canada” as well as in data products and reference products.

More immigrants are settling in the Prairies

Over the past 15 years, the share of recent immigrants in the Prairie provinces has more than doubled. The percentage of new immigrants living in Alberta rose from 6.9% in 2001 to 17.1% in 2016, a higher share than in British Columbia (14.5%). In Manitoba, the percentage increased from 1.8% to 5.2% during the same period. Saskatchewan’s share also grew, from just under 1.0% in 2001 to 4.0% in 2016.

In 2016, the Atlantic provinces were home to 2.3% of all recent immigrants in Canada. Each of the Atlantic provinces received its largest number of new immigrants, which more than doubled the share of recent immigrants in this region in 15 years.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and the place of residence of most of the country’s immigrants, received 39.0% of recent immigrants in 2016. This share decreased from 55.9% in 2001.

British Columbia also saw its share of recent immigrants decrease over the past 15 years, from 19.9% in 2001 to 14.5% in 2016.

In 2016, 17.8% of recent immigrants lived in Quebec, a higher share than in 2006 (17.5%) and in 2001 (13.7%). Overall, Quebec had the second highest number of recent immigrants in 2016, after Ontario.

The territories had the fewest number of recent immigrants. In 2016, 2,100 newcomers, or 0.2% of all recent immigrants, settled in the territories.

Several factors can explain changes in the geographic distribution of new immigrants. For example, certain provinces received a large number of immigrants under the Provincial and Territorial Nominee Program: over 50% of recent immigrants living in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon were admitted under this program. At the national level, 16.4% of all recent immigrants were admitted under this program.

Moreover, many new immigrants chose to settle in areas with an established community from their home country.

The economic conditions in the various receiving regions undoubtedly played a major role in the geographic distribution of immigrants. According to the Labour Force Survey, Alberta had the largest employment growth from 2011 to 2016 (+7.8%) compared with the national average (+5.0%).

Figure 3: Distribution (in percentage) of recent immigrants in Canada, by provinces and territories, 1981 to 2016

Census metropolitan areas in the Prairies receiving a higher share of recent immigrants

In 2016, the Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatoon and Edmonton census metropolitan areas (CMAs) were the place of residence of a share of recent immigrants that was almost twice that of each CMA‘s share of the total population in Canada. For example, 4.3% of new immigrants settled in Winnipeg, while 2.2% of Canada’s total population lived in this CMA.

Nevertheless, Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal, the three most populous CMAs in the country, together are still the place of residence of over half of all immigrants (61.4%) and recent immigrants (56.0%) in Canada. In comparison, just over one-third (35.7%) of Canada’s total population lived in these three CMAs.

In 2016, immigrants represented 46.1% of Toronto’s population, 40.8% of Vancouver’s and 23.4% of Montréal’s.

For the first time, Africa accounts for the second largest source continent of recent immigrants

In 2016, 13.4% of recent immigrants were born in Africa, a four-fold increase from the 1971 Census (3.2%). Africa thus ranked second, ahead of Europe, as a source continent of recent immigrants to Canada.

Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Cameroon were the top five countries of birth of recent African-born immigrants in 2016.

As a result of shifts in Canada’s immigration policies and various international events relating to movements of migrants and refugees, the percentage of recent immigrants born in Europe has decreased from one census to the next, falling from 61.6% in 1971 to 16.1% in 2006 and to 11.6% in 2016.

Asia (including the Middle East) remained the top source continent of recent immigrants. The majority (61.8%) of newcomers to Canada from 2011 to 2016 were born in Asia. This is a slightly higher proportion than was observed in the 2006 Census (58.3%) and in the 2011 National Household Survey (56.9%).

Asian countries accounted for 7 of the top 10 countries of birth of recent immigrants in 2016: the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and South Korea.

Newcomers from the Americas and Oceania represented 12.6% and 0.7%, respectively, of recent immigrants to Canada.

Almost half of the foreign-born population is from Asia

Changes in the main source countries of immigrants have transformed the overall portrait of Canada’s foreign-born population. In 2016, almost half (48.1%) of the foreign-born population was born in Asia (including the Middle East), while a lower proportion (27.7%) was born in Europe.

Furthermore, African-born immigrants represented a growing share of the foreign-born population, increasing from 1.4% in the 1971 Census to 8.5% in the 2016 Census.

In 1871, in the first census held after Confederation, the foreign-born population was mainly from the British Isles (83.6%).

One hundred years later, the 1971 Census showed that individuals born in the British Isles still accounted for the largest group of foreign-born population, but their share had decreased significantly to 29.5%. The majority of the foreign-born population were from other European countries and the United States, while 10.9% of foreign-born were from other parts of the world.

Current immigration trends—if they continue—and the aging of established cohorts of immigrants mean that from 55.7% to 57.9% of all immigrants would be born in Asia by 2036, and from 15.4% to 17.8% would be born in Europe. The proportion of immigrants born in Africa is projected to increase to between 11.0% and 11.9% in 2036.

Figure 4: Distribution of foreign-born population, by region of birth, Canada, 1871 to 2036

More information on recent and past trends with regard to immigration to Canada is available in the video “Welcome to Canada: 150 Years of Immigration” and in the infographic “Immigrant population in Canada“, as well as in various immigration data products.

Two in five Canadian children have an immigrant background

First- and second-generation children of immigrants contribute to the renewal of the population and to the diversity of Canada’s population.

According to the 2016 Census, almost 2.2 million children under the age of 15 were foreign-born (first generation) or had at least one foreign-born parent (second generation), representing 37.5% of all Canadian children. This is an increase from 2011, when this proportion was 34.6%. This population of children with an immigrant background could continue to grow and could represent from 39.3% to 49.1% of children under the age of 15 by 2036.

In 2016, the majority (74.0%) of these first- or second-generation children were from countries of ancestry in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Bermuda, Central and South America.

For more information, please see the document entitled “Children with an immigrant background: Bridging cultures” from the Census in Brief series.

The vast majority of immigrants report being able to conduct a conversation in English or French

The language composition of immigrants has changed over the past 100 years. The percentage of immigrants with English or French as a mother tongue decreased from 71.2% in 1921 to 27.5% in 2016, mirroring changes in the source countries of immigrants over the same period. Overall, statistics are presented on about 200 languages for the 2016 Census.

English and French remain the languages of convergence and integration into Canadian society. In 2016, the vast majority of the 7.5 million immigrants (93.2%) were able to conduct a conversation in English or in French. This means that only 6.8% of immigrants reported not being able to conduct a conversation either in English or in French.

More detailed analyses of immigrants and language are available in the document “Linguistic integration of immigrants and official language populations in Canada” in the Census in Brief series.

Over 250 ethnic origins

Past and recent sources of immigration have strongly influenced the current ethnic and cultural make-up of Canada’s population.

Many ethnic origins were reported in the 2016 Census. The list of origins includes different groups associated with Aboriginal peoples. It also includes European groups that first settled in Canada, as well as various groups that subsequently settled in this country. Overall, statistics are available for over 250 ethnic origins.

More detailed analyses are included in the document on “Ethnic and cultural origins of Canadians: Portrait of a rich heritage” from the Census in Brief series.

Growth of the visible minority population

The increase in the number of immigrants from non-European countries, as well as their children and grandchildren born in Canada, has contributed to the growth of the visible minority population in Canada.

In 2016, 7,674,580 individuals were identified as belonging to the visible minority population as defined by the Employment Equity Act. They represented more than one-fifth (22.3%) of Canada’s population. Of this number, 3 in 10 were born in Canada.

The visible minority population has grown steadily since the 1981 Census, when data for the four Employment Equity groups (women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities) were first derived. At that time, the 1.1 million people belonging to a visible minority represented 4.7% of the total Canadian population.

If current trends continue, the visible minority population would continue to grow and could represent between 31.2% and 35.9% of the Canadian population by 2036.

Figure 5: Number and proportion of visible minority population in Canada, 1981 to 2036

The visible minority population is made up of a number of groups, which themselves are diversified in many respects.

South Asians, Chinese and Blacks were the three largest visible minority groups, each with a population exceeding one million.

According to the 2016 Census, 1,924,635 people reported being South Asian, representing one-quarter (25.1%) of the visible minority population and 5.6% of the entire Canadian population.

Chinese was the second largest visible minority group, with 1,577,060 individuals, representing 20.5% of the visible minority population.

The Black population in Canada surpassed the one-million mark for the first time in 2016. This visible minority group, the third largest in terms of number, comprised 1,198,540 individuals (15.6% of the visible minority population) in 2016, compared with 945,670 in 2011.

The fourth and fifth largest visible minority groups, Filipinos and Arabs, almost doubled their numbers in 10 years and had the highest growth rates among visible minority groups from 2006 to 2016.

They were followed by Latin Americans, Southeast Asians, West Asians, Koreans and Japanese.

Source: The Daily — Immigration and ethnocultural diversity: Key results from the 2016 Census

Who Put The ‘Hispanic’ In Hispanic Heritage Month? : NPR

Interesting history and example of how political level, civil organizations and officials responded to needed change:

And then by 1980, the term Hispanic shows up for the first time on a census form. How did that happen?

One wouldn’t necessarily think of [President Richard] Nixon as a champion of Latino rights or Latino identity. But he was open to hearing Latino concerns, in part because he grew up in Southern California, in a context where he knew Mexican-Americans existed. And they were different. Their lives were different; their experiences were different from whites. In 1972, he created the first comprehensive ‘Hispanic vote’ political campaigns at the presidential level that the country had ever seen. Nixon had what he called “amigo buses” that roamed around the Southwest but also the Northeast and into Florida. Those that roamed on the East Coast played salsa and cumbia and those that roamed in the Southwest played mariachi. This was before the Democratic Party did anything close to this. And the Nixon administration also pressured the Census Bureau to create an advisory board comprised of the Mexicans and the Puerto Ricans, who were incredibly loud, and also some Cuban sympathizers that had been big contributors to Nixon. One of the biggest points of debate is: What would this group be called on the census?

How did they choose the term ‘Hispanic’?

Some of the advisory members said, “Hey, why not use ‘brown’? We don’t fit into these white, black, Asian categories. That’s not us.” Now, if you’re a demographer, if you’re a statistician, that seems like an incredible nightmare. You know, brown can mean Filipinos. Brown can be Native Americans. Brown can be South Asian Indians. This was a complete non-starter.

They went down the list. Latin American. One of the problems is that Latinos were seen as foreigners, invaders and not inherently American. And one of the jobs of the advisory board was to really show that Latinos were an American minority group, like African-Americans — a minority that stretched from coast to coast and that were patriotic, that fought in wars, that contributed to American history, that built American cities. So when a term like Latin American was used, right away, it seemed to strike discord because it was seen as too foreign.

Hispanic was never a term that everybody loved, but it was a term that got a lot of support from within Latinos in the Nixon and, later, the Ford administration.

And, then, how did they make it stick?

The Census director called all the Latino advocacy groups that were being set up in Washington, D.C. — the National Council of La Raza; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and said: “HELP.” NCLR set up town halls in places like Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, showing people the new census form and telling them, “Look, we’re Hispanic. This is us. This is our chance. This is our category!” The second phone the Census director picked up was to Spanish-language media. At that time, the company that would later go on to be called Univision was growing rapidly. They ran documentaries, commercials, even a day-long telethon, where different performers from across Latin America came out. Each of them held out the census form and says, “Hey, remember to fill out the census. We’re Hispanic on the 1980 census. This is important for us.”

How did we get from arguing for totally separate identities like Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban, to me calling myself a Latina?

Because it takes on a life of its own! Once the category was made, everything from political groups to civic organizations to every other media group that would emerge, would draw on census data. As soon as the census numbers came out, Latino lobby groups could then run the numbers and say, ‘Look, this is what Latino poverty looks like; this is what Latino educational attainment looks like.’

They could go up to the Department of Education, for example, and say, “Latinos are the second-largest minority group. And yet, our educational attainment pales to that of whites. Send money to our schools.”

The same exact thing happened in the market. As soon as the numbers came out, Univision releases the first Hispanic marketing manual, in which they take figures like income, and they call it “Hispanic buying power.” And they take the census report and make pitches to McDonald’s and Kellogg’s and everybody else. And they start to slowly grow.

During the 1980s, Latino political organizations started to demand that not only should we have a Hispanic category in the census, but we damn well should have it on birth certificates. Michigan, Georgia, Louisiana — they still categorize Latinos as whites. And there was a large political push among these groups, with even Spanish-language media writing to them and saying, ‘Look, put us down as Latinos. We’re not white. We’re distinct. We’re different.’

An increasingly diverse linguistic landscape: Highlights from the 2016 Census

Excerpts from the StatsCan summary:

Immigrant languages show strong growth

“Immigrant languages” refer to languages (other than English and French – the national official languages) whose existence in Canada is originally due to immigration after English and French colonization. This expression excludes Aboriginal languages and sign languages, in addition to English and French.

The first results from the 2016 Census, released on February 8, 2017, showed once more that international migration is the key driver of population growth in Canada. As such, Canada’s linguistic landscape is constantly changing. In the 2016 Census, over 7.7 million people reported an immigrant mother tongue (alone or with other languages). This corresponds to 22.3% of the Canadian population.

Over 7.3 million people reported speaking an immigrant language at home. The main immigrant languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 were Mandarin (641,100 people), Cantonese (594,705 people), Punjabi (568,375 people), Spanish (553,495 people), Tagalog (Pilipino) (525,375 people) and Arabic (514,200 people). Proportionally speaking, the number of people who speak each of these languages individually represents between 1.4% and 1.9% of the Canadian population.

Some languages saw significant growth from 2011 to 2016. Among the languages spoken by at least 100,000 people, Tagalog (Pilipino) (+35.0%), Arabic (+30.0%), Persian (Farsi) (+26.7%), Hindi (+26.1%) and Urdu (+25.0%) experienced the largest increases. The number of people who spoke a Chinese language at home rose 16.8% from 2011 to 2016 (see note to readers).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Variation between 2011 and 2016 in the population who reported speaking certain immigrant languages, Canada
Variation between 2011 and 2016 in the population who reported speaking certain immigrant languages, Canada

Chart 2: Variation between 2011 and 2016 in the population who reported speaking certain immigrant languages, Canada

Conversely, some European languages were reported by fewer people as the language spoken at home, led by Italian (-10.9%), Polish (-5.5%), German (-3.3%) and Greek (-2.3%).

These trends reflect the changes that Canada has undergone in terms of the geographic origin of its immigrants. The number of people who speak languages from countries that are recent sources of immigration, primarily Asian countries, is on the rise. Meanwhile, the number of people who speak certain European languages—which reflect older waves of immigration—is declining.

Immigrant languages are more commonly spoken in Canada’s large census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The infographic Immigrant Languages in Canada gives a general overview of the main immigrant languages spoken in the different regions of Canada.

The population with an immigrant mother tongue is increasing across Canada

The population with an immigrant mother tongue rose in every region of Canada. In absolute numbers, Ontario (+352,745 people) and Western Canada (+414,260 people) saw the largest growth from 2011 to 2016.

In relative terms, the Atlantic provinces (+33.2%) and the territories (+27.6%) saw the largest increase in the population with an immigrant mother tongue, despite accounting for only 1.2% of this population in 2016. In 2011, these two regions accounted for 1.0% of this population.

The population with an immigrant mother tongue is largely concentrated in large CMAs, with nearly two-thirds living in the CMAs of Toronto (35.3%), Vancouver (14.1%) and Montréal (13.0%). These proportions were down slightly from 2011, when they were 36.3%, 14.3% and 13.3% respectively.

In relative terms, the population with an immigrant mother tongue experienced more rapid growth in the CMAs of Edmonton (+31.1%), Calgary (+28.0%) and, to a lesser extent, Ottawa-Gatineau (+15.5%). This growth was 10.3% in Toronto, 10.6% in Montréal and 11.5% in Vancouver.

The document Linguistic diversity and multilingualism in Canadian homes presents the main immigrant mother tongues in the large CMAs in Canada. In Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau, Arabic was the main immigrant mother tongue. In Calgary and Edmonton, the three most common immigrant mother tongues were, in order, Tagalog, Punjabi and Cantonese. In Toronto and Vancouver, they were Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi.

Cree languages are the Aboriginal languages most commonly spoken at home

The 2016 Census of Population provides data on close to 70 Aboriginal languages.

Cree languages were the Aboriginal languages most often reported as the language spoken at home in Canada (83,985 people) in 2016. Inuktitut was spoken by 39,025 people, while 21,800 people spoke Ojibway, 13,855 people spoke Oji-Cree, 11,780 people spoke Dene and 10,960 people spoke Montagnais (Innu).

Overall, the number of people who speak an Aboriginal language at home (228,770 people) is higher than the number of people who have an Aboriginal mother tongue (213,230 people). This difference, particularly significant among youths aged 0 to 14, shows the growing acquisition of an Aboriginal language as second language. In this age group, 44,000 people have an Aboriginal language as a mother tongue, while 55,970 people speak an Aboriginal language at least on a regular basis at home.

More detailed analysis highlighting the richness and diversity of Aboriginal languages will be made available with the release of 2016 Census data on Aboriginal Peoples on October 25, 2017.

English and French are pathways of integration into Canadian societyLinguistic diversity is also measured by the growth of multilingualism in Canadian homes. Multiple languages in the homes of Canadians of all origins are becoming more common.

The proportion of the Canadian population who speak more than one language at home rose from 17.5% in 2011 to 19.4% in 2016. There were also more multiple responses to the question on mother tongue, with the proportion of people who reported more than one mother tongue rising from 1.9% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2016.

Multilingualism primarily occurs when official languages are used increasingly with an immigrant language. For more information, see Linguistic diversity and multilingualism in Canadian homes.

For example, 69.9% of people with an “other” mother tongue (reported alone) spoke English or French at home in 2016—mostly in combination with the mother tongue.

Similarly, 69.8% of people who spoke an “other language” at home (regardless of mother tongue) did so in combination with at least one of the two official languages.

Overall, 98.1% of Canadians reported that they were able to hold a conversation in at least one official language in 2016, and 93.4% spoke English or French at home at least on a regular basis.

Strong growth of Arabic in the Atlantic provinces

There was an increase in immigrant languages as mother tongue and as a language spoken at home in the Atlantic provinces. Arabic in particular saw strong growth from 2011 to 2016 and was the main immigrant language spoken at home in three Atlantic provinces.

The only exception was Prince Edward Island, where Mandarin was the main immigrant language spoken at home (2,290 people).

Montagnais (Innu) (1,505 people), an Aboriginal language, was the other language most frequently reported spoken at home in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Decline in the use of French at home in Quebec

The various linguistic indicators show an increase in other languages and in English, and a decline in French in Quebec.

Arabic was the most common immigrant language spoken at home (213,055 people) in 2016 in Quebec, up 23.7% from 2011.

English as a mother tongue rose from 9.0% in 2011 to 9.6% in 2016, and as a language spoken at home it increased from 18.3% in 2011 to 19.8% in 2016.

French saw a decline as a mother tongue (from 79.7% in 2011 to 78.4% in 2016) and as a language spoken at home (from 87.0% in 2011 to 86.4% in 2016).

Nearly half of Canadians with an immigrant mother tongue lived in Ontario in 2016

Ontario accounted for nearly half (49.5%) of Canadians whose mother tongue or language spoken at home was an immigrant language in 2016, down slightly from 2011 (50.9% for mother tongue and 51.2% for language spoken at home).

Immigrant languages spoken at home rose significantly in Ontario from 2011 to 2016, led by Arabic (+30.5%), Persian (Farsi) (+24.0%), Urdu (+21.3%), Tagalog (Pilipino) (+19.3%), Chinese languages (+17.4%) and Punjabi (+14.5%).

Asian languages see strong growth in the western provinces

Tagalog (Pilipino) is the main immigrant language spoken at home in the Prairie provinces. From 2011 to 2016, Tagalog (Pilipino) increased 123.1% in Saskatchewan, 68.3% in Alberta and 42.3% in Manitoba.

In numbers, Punjabi was the main immigrant language spoken at home in British Columbia (222,720 people) in 2016, up 10.9% from 2011, followed closely by Mandarin (202,625 people) and Cantonese (200,280 people).

Strong growth for Tagalog in the territories

The number of people who reported speaking Tagalog (Pilipino) rose sharply in Yukon (+105.4%), the Northwest Territories (+58.8%) and Nunavut (+54.5%). The main “other” languages spoken at home were Dogrib (Tlicho) in the Northwest Territories (2,005 people) and Inuktitut in Nunavut (25,405 people). From 2011 to 2016, the number of people speaking Inuktitut in Nunavut rose 12.1%.

All French linguistic indicators increased in the three Canadian territories.

Source: The Daily — An increasingly diverse linguistic landscape: Highlights from the 2016 Census