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Canada's Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: Definitions

Ethnic origin (also known as ethnic ancestry) refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of the respondent's ancestors. An ancestor is someone from whom a person is descended and is usually more distant than a grandparent. Ethnic origin should not be confused with language, place of birth or citizenship. For example, a person of Haitian origin may speak French, be born in Canada and have Canadian citizenship. Since 1981, when respondents were first permitted to report more than one ethnic origin in the census, a distinction has been made between single response, multiple responses and total responses.

  • A single response occurs when a respondent provides one ethnic origin only. For example, in 2006, 741,045 people stated that their only ethnic origin was Italian.
  • A multiple response occurs when a respondent provides two or more ethnic origins. For example, 704,285 people in 2006 gave a response which included Italian and one or more other ethnic origins.
  • Total responses are the sum of single and multiple responses for each ethnic origin. Total response counts indicate the number of persons who reported a specified ethnic origin, either as their only origin or in addition to one or more other ethnic origins. For example, 1,445,335 persons reported at least some Italian ancestry in 2006. Total responses to ethnic origin do not sum up to the total population.

Most of the data that are reported in this document refers to the total response count for each ethnic group, unless otherwise indicated.

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

Foreign-born population (also known as the immigrant population) is defined in the 2006 Census as persons who are, or who have been, landed immigrants in Canada. In this analysis, the foreign-born population does not include non-permanent residents. The foreign-born population also excludes persons born outside Canada who are Canadian citizens by birth. The latter are considered part of the Canadian-born or non-immigrant population.

Recent immigrants (also known as newcomers) refers to landed immigrants who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given census year. For the 2006 Census, recent immigrants are landed immigrants who arrived in Canada between January 1, 2001 and Census Day, May 16, 2006. Similarly, recent immigrants in the 2001 Census were newcomers at the time of the 2001 Census, i.e., they came to Canada between January 1, 1996 and Census Day, May 15, 2001.

Non-permanent residents refers to people from another country who had a Work or Study Permit, or who were refugee claimants at the time of the census, and family members living in Canada with them.

Generation status indicates for how many generations a person and their family have been in Canada. It is derived from place of birth of respondent, place of birth of father and place of birth of mother and it pertains only to the population aged 15 years and older. Persons are defined as either 'first generation,' 'second generation' or 'third generation or more,' which are defined as follows:

  • first generation: Persons born outside Canada. For the most part, these are people who are now, or have ever been, landed immigrants in Canada. Also included in the first generation are a small number of people born outside Canada to parents who are Canadian citizens by birth. In addition, the first generation includes people who are non-permanent residents.
  • second generation: Persons born inside Canada with at least one parent born outside Canada. This includes: (a) persons born in Canada with both parents born outside Canada and (b) persons born in Canada with one parent born in Canada and one parent born outside Canada (these persons may have grandparents born inside or outside Canada as well).
  • third generation or more: Persons born inside Canada with both parents born inside Canada (these persons may have grandparents born inside or outside Canada as well).

Census metropolitan area is an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major urban core. A census metropolitan area must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the urban core.