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Visible Minorities

Although an imperfect and incomplete measure, the percentage of the population made up of visible minorities reflects, in part, the degree of social diversity present.* Visible minorities account for the majority of new immigrants to Canada and provide vitally important portals to the global economy and the interpersonal linkages upon which trade and business opportunities can grow. Social diversity generates a competitive economic advantage as tourists, residents and businesses are attracted to cultural opportunities. It also presents challenges and depending on immigration sources, individual provinces may experience greater need for cultural policies, language training and related services.


Provinces differ greatly in the percentage of their populations identifying themselves as visible minorities. Western provinces differ from the rest of Canada in the ethnic backgrounds of their visible minority populations. However, as in the rest of Canada, visible minorities are more likely to reside in urban rather than rural areas and three of Canada's five most diverse cities are found in western Canada. The variation among western Canadian cities with respect to the size and composition of visible minority populations reflects provincial variation.


*Aboriginal peoples are not classified as visible minorities in the Statistics Canada data presented in this section.

Excerpts reprinted from Robert Roach and Loleen Berdahl, State of the West: Western Canadian Demographic and Economic Trends (Calgary: Canada West Foundation: 2001), with permission from the Canada West Foundation.
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