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Canada's Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: Provinces and territories

British Columbia: More than 1 million members of visible minorities

For the first time, the 2006 Census enumerated over 1 million people who reported a visible minority group in British Columbia. The province's 1,008,900 visible minorities represented 24.8% of its population, the highest proportion of all provinces and territories. In 2001, the visible minority population was 836,400, which accounted for 21.6% of British Columbia's population.

Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population in British Columbia grew by 20.6%. The increase in the visible minority population in recent years can be largely attributed to the high level of immigration among people from non-European countries. In fact, 80.2% of recent immigrants who arrived in Canada since 2001 belonged to a visible minority group.

The vast majority (86.8%) of visible minorities in British Columbia resided in just one census metropolitan area: Vancouver. Nearly 3% of the visible minority population lived in each of Abbotsford and Victoria.

The province's largest visible minority group was Chinese, who made up 40.4% of its visible minority population. The 407,200 Chinese in British Columbia comprised 10.0% of its total population in 2006.

Almost three-quarters (72.9%) of Chinese were foreign-born. Among the foreign-born Chinese, 18.4% arrived in Canada since 2001, while 45.2% came during the 1990s. While the majority of Chinese were foreign-born, fully one-quarter of all those who reported Chinese as their visible minority group were Canadian-born.

South Asian visible minority group (including East Indian, Punjabi and Pakistani, among others) was the second largest group, with 262,300 people. They represented 6.4% of the province's total population. About six in 10 South Asians in British Columbia were immigrants, many of them arriving between 2001 and 2006.

The South Asian population has a strong presence in Abbotsford. About 25,600 people reported belonging to the South Asian visible minority group in Abbotsford in 2006, 16.3% of its total population. This was the highest proportion among the census metropolitan areas, even higher than the proportion of 13.5% in the census metropolitan area of Toronto. 

The 88,100 Filipinos in British Columbia formed its third largest visible minority group. They made up 8.7% of all visible minority groups and just over 2% of the province's population. Almost three-quarters of all Filipinos were foreign-born. Among the foreign-born Filipino population, 26.2% arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006. 

While many members of visible minority groups were relatively new arrivals in Canada, others had ancestors who were among the early settlers here and were, therefore, Canadian-born. In 2006, close to three in five Japanese were born in Canada. Almost half (48.3%) of Blacks in British Columbia were Canadian-born and 37.3% of South Asians were born in Canada.

Ethnocultural portrait of British Columbia reflects past immigration patterns

The diversity of the population of British Columbia can be seen by the wide number of different ethnic origins reported. Residents of British Columbia reported more than 200 different ethnic origins in the 2006 Census. Although the province is home to a large Asian population, the most common ethnic ancestries reported were British Isles, Canadian and other European origins.

The top ethnic origins in British Columbia show a mix of historical and current immigration patterns. The most numerous ethnic origins reported, either alone or in combination with another origin, included English (1.2 million), Scottish (828,100), Canadian (720,200), Irish (618,100) and German (561,600). Also among the top 10 ethnic origins were Chinese, French, East Indian, Ukrainian and Dutch.

The majority of European or British Isles descent were Canadian-born, or had been in Canada for several decades. The 2006 Census showed that 10.7% of those with British Isles origins were foreign-born, as were 18.6% with other European origins. In comparison, 71.5% of those reporting Chinese ethnicity and 61.2% with East Indian origins were born outside Canada.

Moreover, 87% of residents with either Chinese or East Indian origins reported that ethnic group as their only origin. In contrast, only 21.5% of British Isles origin, and 29.0% of other European origin, reported one of those groups as their only ethnic origin.

The ethnic origins of immigrants reflect the current and historical immigration patterns. The top ethnic origins reported either alone or in combination with other groups among the foreign-born were Chinese, East Indian, English, German and Filipino.

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