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Canada's Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: National picture

Increased reporting of multiple ethnic ancestries

The incidence of people reporting multiple ethnic origins was on the rise, probably the result of increased unions among ethnic groups and awareness of family heritage. In 2006, 41.4% of the population reported more than one ethnic origin, compared with 38.2% in 2001 and 35.8% in 1996.

Individuals born in Canada were more likely to report multiple ancestral backgrounds than people born outside the country. In 2006, 47.6% of the Canadian-born population reported more than one ethnic origin, compared with 17.2% of the foreign-born population.

As well, the extent of reporting multiple ancestral backgrounds varied among groups. Some groups that have longer histories in Canada also had a high proportion of their population reporting multiple ancestries. 

For example, a majority of individuals who reported Irish origin (88.7%) said that they had other ancestral origins. An estimated 88.0% of individuals reported Scottish origin and some other origins. The proportion was 78.9% among those who reported German origin and 75.0% among individuals of Ukrainian origin. In contrast, only 10.0% of Somali origin and 6.0% of Korean origin reported multiple origins.

Aboriginal ancestries

The 2006 Census enumerated 1,678,200 individuals who reported Aboriginal ancestries, either alone or in combination with other origins. Descendants of the First Peoples of Canada represented 5.4% of the country's total population.

About 1.3 million individuals reported North American Indian ancestry, such as Cree, Mi'kmaq, etc., alone or with other origins. They constituted the largest Aboriginal ancestry group. Another 409,100 individuals reported Métis ancestry, alone or with other origins, and 65,900 individuals reported Inuit ancestry, alone or with other origins.

People with Aboriginal ancestry were more likely than the total population to report multiple origins. In 2006, 62.4% of people with Aboriginal ancestry also reported other origins, compared with 41.4% of the total population of Canada.

Multiple origins were reported by 81.1% of people who reported Métis ancestry, by 59.1% of people who reported North American Indian ancestry and by 37.8% of people who reported Inuit ancestry.

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Visible minority population

The people who identify themselves as a visible minority comprise one of four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act. The other three are women, Aboriginal people and people with disabilities. The census collects information on these four groups to meet federal employment equity legislation requirements.

According to the Employment Equity Act, visible minorities are defined as 'persons, other than Aboriginal persons, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.' Under this definition, regulations specify that the following groups are included in the visible minority population: Chinese, South Asians, Blacks, Arabs, West Asians, Filipinos, Southeast Asians, Latin Americans, Japanese, Koreans and other visible minority groups, such as Pacific Islanders.

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