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This report describes the basic social and economic characteristics of people in Canada who have ethnic or cultural ancestry in the Middle East or North Africa.  It is part of a series of profiles of the country’s major non-European ethnic groups.

The information in this profile is taken mostly from the 2001 Census of Canada, the most recent source of census data. Statistics Canada conducts the Census every five years. One in five households receives a long questionnaire that asks house­hold residents to indicate the ethnic or cultural groups to which their ancestors belonged. This profile is based on people who reported origins of the Middle East or North Africa, including: Arab, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Lebanese, Libyan, Maghrebi, Algerian, Berber, Moroccan, Tunisian, Palestinian, Saudi Arabian, Syrian and Yemeni. The origin could be listed as the only ethnic or cultural group of their ancestors, or listed along with other ethnic and cultural groups.

This publication also uses information from the Ethnic Diversity Survey (EDS), which was conducted in 2002 by Statistics Canada in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage. The EDS surveyed more than 42,000 Canadians over the age of 15. The objectives of the EDS were to understand more about how people’s backgrounds affect their participation in Canadian society, economy and culture, and how Canadians from different ethnic backgrounds think about and describe their ethnicity.

Although the EDS and the Census provide very useful information, caution should be exercised in making direct comparisons between groups, particularly as they relate to causal implications, because the data have not been weighted to take into account differences in age, education, length of time in Canada and other factors.

This profile is based on the Census population, which includes the following groups:

  • Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and landed immigrants with a usual place of residence in Canada (including those who are abroad, either on a military base or attached to a diplomatic mission; or who are at sea or in port aboard merchant vessels under Canadian registry).
  • Persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who are claiming refugee status and members of their families living with them.
  • Persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold:
    • a student authorization (student visa or student permit);
    • an employment authorization; or
    • a Minister's permit (including extensions);
    • and members of their families living with them.

For the purposes of this profile, the term “Canadians” includes all persons with a usual place of residence in Canada, regardless of their citizenship status.