The latest Census figures to be made public in Canada show the modern diversity of the nation which now has over 250 ethnic origins or ancestries with four in 10 people reporting being of more than one origin.

The Census also shows that close to 2.2 million children under the age of 15, or 37.5% of the total population of children, had at least one foreign born parent. Indeed, children with an immigrant background could represent between 39% and 49% of the total population of children in 2036.

Canada Diversity


Almost half of children with an immigrant background were from an Asian country of ancestry, while less than one quarter were from a European country of ancestry or the United States and almost 15% of children with an immigrant background lived in a household with at least three generations. More than a third of children with an immigrant background spoke only an official language at home, compared with less than 10% of their parents.

British and French origins were still among the most common in 2016, however, their share in the population has decreased considerably since the 1871 Census which showed just 20 countries of origin in the population.

Overall close to 20 million people reported European origins. Chinese ancestry at 1.8 million people, East Indian ancestry at 1.4 million people and Filipino ancestry at 837,130 people are among the 20 most common ancestries reported by the Canadian population.

The figures show 6.3 million with English origins, 4.8 million from Scotland, 4.6 million from Ireland and 4.7 million from France but this was much lower than in 1871.

Canadian was the top origin, with 11.1 million people reporting this ancestry alone or in combination with other origins, representing 32.3% of the country’s population.

Aboriginal people in Canada contribute to the richness and diversity of Canadian cultural heritage and the Census shows 2.1 million people, or 6.2% of the total Canadian population, reported Aboriginal ancestry.

Of the three main Aboriginal groups, First Nations (North American Indians) was the largest, with 1.5 million people. Within this group, Cree (356,660), Mi’kmaq (168,480) and Ojibway (125,725) were the most common ancestries. Métis ancestry was reported by 600,000 people, and Inuit ancestry was reported by 79,125.

A high proportion of individuals from long established groups in Canada reported more than one origin. North American Aboriginal origins and European origins were among the most commonly reported multiple origins in 2016.

Conversely, a smaller proportion of individuals from groups that settled more recently in Canada reported more than one origin. This was the case for Asian ancestries and African ancestries, among others.

The majority of people who reported African origins or Latin, Central or South American origins were part of the first generation to arrive in Canada. The most common ancestries among first generation individuals from these two regions are Mexican, Colombian, Egyptian and Moroccan.