Ethnicity, Language and Immigration Thematic Series
Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Release date: February 27, 2019

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Context

The Black population has contributed to Canada’s heritage since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa (a navigator and interpreter for Pierre Du Gua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain), whose presence in Canada dates back to the early 1600s.

Black people in Canada have diverse backgrounds and experiences – while some can trace their roots in Canada for many generations, others have immigrated in recent decades. They have contributed in many ways to the growth, diversity and development of the country.

In conjunction with both the United Nations’ initiatives for the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), and Black History Month, this portrait aims to highlight the diversity of the Black population in terms of their ethnic and cultural origins, places of birth and languages.

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Population of interest

There are many different ways to define and measure the population of interest: a vastly diverse community of people in terms of history, ethnic and cultural origins, place of birth, religion and languages.

For this portrait, the population refers to persons who self-identified as "Black" in the population group question in the Census of Population. Since the 1996 Census, “Black” is one of the population groups listed on the census questionnaire. Respondents can choose to mark one or more population group, or to specify another group. With the exception of respondents who identified as belonging to both Black and White groups, multiple responses are excluded from this analysis.

Questionnaire

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population 2A-L questionnaire.

Description for questionnaire

The image shows question 19 on population groups from the 2016 Census of Population 2A-L questionnaire. Respondents were asked 'Is this person:' and were instructed to mark one or more of the 11 mark-in categories, or to specify another group in the write-in space, if applicable. The list of mark-in categories are the following:

  • White
  • South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc.)
  • Chinese
  • Black
  • Filipino
  • Latin American
  • Arab
  • Southeast Asian (e.g., Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai, etc.)
  • West Asian (e.g., Iranian, Afghan, etc.)
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Other - specify

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In 2016, close to 1.2 million people in Canada reported being Black

Chart 1 Number of persons and percent of the population who are Black, Canada, 1996 to 2016

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 1 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1996 2001 2006 2011 2016
number
Canada 28,528,125 29,639,030 31,241,030 32,852,320 34,460,060
Black population 573,860 662,215 783,800 945,665 1,198,545
percent
Percentage of Canada's population 2.0 2.2 2.5 2.9 3.5

The Black population is a young population…

Chart 2 Age pyramid for the Black and total populations, Canada 2016

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 2. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), Black population , Total population , Male and Female , calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group Black population Total population
Male Female Male Female
percent
0 to 4 9.5 8.6 5.7 5.3
5 to 9 9.6 8.8 6.1 5.6
10 to 14 8.7 8.0 5.8 5.3
15 to 19 8.8 8.0 6.1 5.6
20 to 24 8.4 8.0 6.7 6.2
25 to 29 7.2 7.7 6.7 6.5
30 to 34 7.3 8.0 6.7 6.7
35 to 39 7.5 7.8 6.5 6.7
40 to 44 7.1 7.2 6.4 6.6
45 to 49 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8
50 to 54 5.7 5.7 7.7 7.7
55 to 59 4.1 4.3 7.5 7.6
60 to 64 3.0 3.2 6.5 6.7
65 to 69 2.6 3.0 5.5 5.7
70 to 74 1.9 2.2 3.9 4.1
75 to 79 1.1 1.4 2.6 3.0
80 to 84 0.6 0.8 1.8 2.1
85+ 0.3 0.7 1.2 1.8

…with a history in Canada

Canada is the top place of birth of the Black population. In 2016, more than four in 10 Black people were born in Canada.

Chart 3 Distribution of the Black and total populations by generation status, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 3 
Data table for chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 3 Black population and Total population, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
percent
First generation 56.4 23.9
Second generation 35.0 17.7
Third generation or more 8.6 58.4

About half of the Black population is or has ever been a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada…

In 2016, about 623,195 Black people were immigrants, which included landed immigrants/permanent residents and Canadian citizens by naturalizationNote 2.

Chart 4 Immigrant status for the Black population, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 4 Black population, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population
percent
Immigrant 52.0
Non-permanent resident 3.7
Canadian citizen by birth 44.3

…who came at different points in time

Chart 5 Period of immigration for Black immigrants, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 5 
Data table for chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 5 Black immigrants, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black immigrants
number
Before 1981 110,805
1981 to 1990 75,835
1991 to 2000 113,965
2001 to 2010 180,855
2011 to 2016 141,735

…and through different gateways to Canada

Chart 6 Distribution of Black immigrants living in Canada in 2016 by broad admission categories and period of immigration

Data table for Chart 6 
Data table for chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 6 Economic immigrants, Immigrants sponsored by family, Refugees and Other immigrants, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Economic immigrants Immigrants sponsored by family Refugees Other immigrants
percent
1981 to 1990 24.4 57.2 18.4 0.0
1991 to 2000 17.4 53.7 28.5 0.4
2001 to 2005 26.1 31.1 40.0 2.9
2006 to 2010 35.6 28.3 32.2 4.0
2011 to 2016 40.3 27.2 28.7 3.8

The source regions of immigration have changed over time

Chart 7 Region of birth of Black immigrants by period of immigration, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 7 
Data table for chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 7 Before 1981, 1981 to 1990, 1991 to 2000, 2001 to 2010 and 2011 to 2016, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Before 1981 1981 to 1990 1991 to 2000 2001 to 2010 2011 to 2016
percent
Caribbean and Bermuda 83.3 64.0 46.6 29.0 27.3
Rest of the Americas 6.7 5.4 3.9 4.6 3.5
Europe 5.1 2.4 2.0 2.8 3.4
Africa 4.8 27.7 46.8 62.7 65.1
Asia and Oceania 0.1 0.5 0.6 0.9 0.8

Long-established Black immigrants were mostly from the Caribbean, but recent immigrants were predominantly from Africa.

More than 170 different places of birth for the Black immigrants in Canada

Map for More than 170 different places of birth for the Black immigrants in Canada

Data table for Map 

Map: "Place of birth of Black immigrants, Canada 2016" shows a world map where countries of birth are shaded based on total number of Canada's Black immigrants. The categories include: less than 100 immigrants, between 100 and less than 1,000 immigrants, between 1,000 and less than 10,000 immigrants, between 10,000 and less than 25,000 immigrants and 25,000 immigrants and more.

Geographic regions are mentioned and the number and percentage of Black immigrants who were born in each are noted. An arrow from each region points towards Canada. The size of each arrow denotes the size of the population originating from the corresponding region.

Going from the left side of the world map to the right:

1. Elsewhere in the Americas - 29,370 Black immigrants, or 4.7%
2. Caribbean and Bermuda - 285,090 Black immigrants, or 45.7%
3. Africa - 285,130 Black immigrants, or 45.8%
4. Asia and Oceania - 3,935 Black immigrants, or 0.6%
5. Europe - 19,575 Black immigrants, or 3.1%

Data table for Map
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Map Black immigrants (appearing as column headers).
Black immigrants
Total - Place of birth of Black immigrants in Canada 623,195
Greenland 0
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 0
United States 14,505
Belize 170
Costa Rica 45
El Salvador 10
Guatemala 10
Honduras 35
Mexico 30
Nicaragua 25
Panama 100
Anguilla 45
Antigua and Barbuda 2,110
Aruba 210
Bahamas 995
Barbados 11,915
Bermuda 440
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba 0
Cayman Islands 135
Cuba 790
Curaçao 150
Dominica 2,520
Dominican Republic 665
Grenada 9,380
Guadeloupe 365
Haiti 92,040
Jamaica 122,550
Martinique 435
Montserrat 575
Puerto Rico 10
Saint Barthélemy 0
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1,845
Saint Lucia 5,435
Saint Martin (French part) 65
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 11,295
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) 35
Trinidad and Tobago 20,925
Turks and Caicos Islands 45
Virgin Islands, British 40
Virgin Islands, United States 65
Argentina 10
Bolivia 10
Brazil 395
Chile 10
Colombia 320
Ecuador 30
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 0
French Guiana 135
Guyana 13,165
Paraguay 0
Peru 20
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 0
Suriname 150
Uruguay 10
Venezuela 190
Austria 25
Belgium 690
France 4,315
Germany 815
Liechtenstein 0
Luxembourg 15
Monaco 0
Netherlands 245
Switzerland 260
Belarus 10
Bulgaria 25
Czech Republic 35
Estonia 0
Hungary 20
Latvia 0
Lithuania 0
Moldova 0
Poland 55
Romania 100
Russian Federation 370
Slovakia 20
Ukraine 160
Åland Islands 0
Denmark 45
Faroe Islands 0
Finland 40
Guernsey 0
Iceland 0
Ireland 400
Isle of Man 0
Jersey 0
Norway 85
Sark 0
Svalbard and Jan Mayen 0
Sweden 130
United Kingdom 10,625
Albania 0
Andorra 0
Bosnia and Herzegovina 15
Croatia 20
Gibraltar 0
Greece 65
Holy See (Vatican City State) 0
Italy 650
Kosovo 10
Macedonia, Republic of 0
Malta 30
Montenegro 0
Portugal 190
San Marino 0
Serbia 35
Slovenia 10
Spain 55
Benin 2,735
Burkina Faso 1,940
Cabo Verde 150
Côte d'Ivoire 10,725
Gambia 620
Ghana 22,475
Guinea 5,055
Guinea-Bissau 90
Liberia 2,110
Mali 2,045
Mauritania 430
Niger 975
Nigeria 41,415
Saint Helena 10
Senegal 7,025
Sierra Leone 2,775
Togo 3,315
Burundi 8,145
Comoros 115
Djibouti 1,855
Eritrea 13,950
Ethiopia 30,960
Kenya 9,475
Madagascar 855
Malawi 335
Mauritius 1,350
Mayotte 0
Mozambique 195
Réunion 45
Rwanda 5,755
Seychelles 525
Somalia 25,300
South Sudan 5,175
Tanzania 2,975
Uganda 4,155
Zambia 1,515
Zimbabwe 6,915
Algeria 140
Egypt 920
Libya 90
Morocco 255
Sudan 5,380
Tunisia 95
Western Sahara 0
Angola 1,655
Cameroon 18,335
Central African Republic 1,035
Chad 1,505
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 24,385
Congo, Republic of the 2,270
Equatorial Guinea 50
Gabon 980
Sao Tome and Principe 20
Botswana 630
Lesotho 80
Namibia 570
South Africa, Republic of 2,895
Swaziland 345
Afghanistan 10
Armenia 10
Azerbaijan 10
Bahrain 10
Cyprus 10
Georgia 0
Iran 10
Iraq 20
Israel 195
Jordan 15
Kazakhstan 15
Kuwait 125
Kyrgyzstan 0
Lebanon 70
Oman 35
Qatar 80
Saudi Arabia 1,375
Syria 95
Tajikistan 0
Turkey 65
Turkmenistan 0
United Arab Emirates 390
Uzbekistan 20
West Bank and Gaza Strip (Palestine) 0
Yemen 340
China 190
Hong Kong 20
Japan 70
Korea, North 0
Korea, South 10
Macao 0
Mongolia 0
Taiwan 0
Brunei Darussalam 0
Burma (Myanmar) 0
Cambodia 0
Indonesia 0
Laos 0
Malaysia 55
Philippines 155
Singapore 0
Thailand 15
Timor-Leste 0
Viet Nam 15
Bangladesh 15
Bhutan 0
British Indian Ocean Territory 0
India 130
Maldives 0
Nepal 10
Pakistan 30
Sri Lanka 35
American Samoa 0
Australia 85
Christmas Island 0
Cocos (Keeling) Islands 0
Cook Islands 0
Fiji 130
French Polynesia 0
Guam 0
Kiribati 0
Marshall Islands 0
Micronesia, Federated States of 0
Nauru 0
New Caledonia 0
New Zealand 20
Niue 0
Norfolk Island 0
Northern Mariana Islands 0
Palau 0
Papua New Guinea 30
Pitcairn 0
Samoa 0
Solomon Islands 0
Tokelau 0
Tonga 0
Tuvalu 0
United States Minor Outlying Islands 0
Vanuatu 10
Wallis and Futuna 0
Other places of birth 95

Jamaica and Haiti are the two main countries of birth for Black immigrants in Canada.


Table 1
Top countries of birth for Black immigrants, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Top countries of birth for Black immigrants, Canada number, percent and percent of women (appearing as column headers).
number percent percent of women
Total 623,195 100.0 53.3
Jamaica 122,550 19.7 56.9
Haiti 92,040 14.8 56.2
Nigeria 41,415 6.6 48.4
Ethiopia 30,960 5.0 50.8
Somalia 25,300 4.1 55.5
Democratic Republic of the Congo 24,385 3.9 52.6
Ghana 22,475 3.6 49.9
Trinidad and Tobago 20,925 3.4 55.6
Cameroon 18,335 2.9 50.1
United States 14,505 2.3 46.6
Other 210,305 33.7 52.0

Overall, more than 200 ethnic or cultural origins were reported by the Black population in Canada

Chart 8 Ethnic origins (single and multiple responses) most often reported by the Black population, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 8 
Data table for chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 8 Single and multiple ethnic origin responses, Single ethnic origin responses and Multiple ethnic origin responses, calculated using number of responses units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Single and multiple ethnic origin responses Single ethnic origin responses Multiple ethnic origin responses
number of responsesData table Note 3
Jamaican 258,350 153,840 104,505
Other African origins, n.i.e.Data table Note 1 163,590 74,065 89,525
Haitian 156,915 124,195 32,720
Canadian 138,650 45,070 93,580
English 58,345 10,070 48,275
Somali 57,555 51,825 5,725
Nigerian 50,410 38,035 12,375
French 47,890 4,445 43,440
Ethiopian 41,270 33,225 8,045
Scottish 40,615 790 39,825
Trinidadian/Tobagonian 38,060 13,900 24,155
Congolese 37,590 29,460 8,130
Irish 35,840 570 35,265
Ghanaian 34,460 26,380 8,075
West Indian, n.o.s.Data table Note 2 30,050 12,285 17,765
Barbadian 29,025 10,650 18,380

The long established Black population in Canada is more likely to report several ethnic or cultural origins

Figure 1 Ethnic origin reported as single or multiple responses by generation status, Black population in Canada, 2016

Data table for Figure 1 
Data table for Figure 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Figure 1 First generation , Second generation , Third generation or more , Total - Single and multiple ethnic origin responses , Single ethnic origin responses and Multiple ethnic origin responses , calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
First generation Second generation Third generation or more
Total - Single and multiple ethnic origin responses Single ethnic origin responses Multiple ethnic origin responses Total - Single and multiple ethnic origin responses Single ethnic origin responses Multiple ethnic origin responses Total - Single and multiple ethnic origin responses Single ethnic origin responses Multiple ethnic origin responses
number
Black population 675,480 558,925 116,555 419,840 249,080 170,760 103,225 38,520 64,700
Caribbean origins 281,560 224,435 57,125 223,975 112,700 111,275 42,245 9,030 33,210
African origins 386,785 309,670 77,120 176,230 105,055 71,175 28,995 3,705 25,285
Other origins 96,615 24,820 71,795 166,875 31,325 135,550 87,655 25,785 61,870

The mother tongues reported among the first generation Black population are much more diverse than the mother tongues among the third generation or more

Figure 2 Mother tongue for the Black population, by generation status, Canada, 2016

Data table for Figure 2 
Data table for Figure 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Figure 2 Percent (appearing as column headers).
Percent
First generation
English 45.0
French 14.6
Creole languages 8.9
Somali 4.1
Amharic 2.9
Niger-Congo languages, n.i.e.Data table Note 1 2.7
Tigrigna 2.1
Akan (Twi) 1.8
Swahili 1.6
Yoruba 1.3
Arabic 1.1
Rundi (Kirundi) 0.8
Kinyarwanda (Rwanda) 0.7
Igbo 0.6
Oromo 0.6
Lingala 0.5
Wolof 0.5
Shona 0.5
Fulah (Pular, Pulaar, Fulfulde) 0.4
Portuguese 0.3
Spanish 0.3
Ewe 0.2
Edo 0.2
Dinka 0.2
Bamanankan 0.2
Ganda 0.2
Ga 0.1
Harari 0.1
Bilen 0.1
Malagasy 0.1
Italian 0.1
Russian 0.1
Second generation
English   68.5
French   22.2
Somali   1.6
Creole languages   0.8
Amharic   0.4
Akan (Twi)   0.4
Tigrigna   0.3
Arabic   0.3
Swahili   0.2
Oromo   0.2
Portuguese   0.1
Yoruba   0.1
Fulah (Pular, Pulaar, Fulfulde)   0.1
Wolof   0.1
Dinka   0.1
Spanish   0.1
Harari   0.1
Third generation or more
English 88.6
French 9.8
Creole languages 0.1

A higher percent of people within the Black population (28.0%) speak French at home compared to the total population (23.3%)


Table 2
Frequency of English, French and other languages spoken at home for the Black and total populations, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Frequency of English Black population and Total population, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
number percent number percent
English
Languages spoken at home 1,198,540 100.0 34,460,050 100.0
English spoken at home 887,955 74.1 25,694,855 74.6
Primarily 753,605 62.9 22,031,180 63.9
Only 656,370 54.8 19,650,025 57.0
Mostly 97,235 8.1 2,381,155 6.9
Equally with another language 65,275 5.4 1,488,820 4.3
Regularly (secondary use) 69,075 5.8 2,174,855 6.3
No mention of English 310,585 25.9 8,765,195 25.4
French
Languages spoken at home 1,198,540 100.0 34,460,050 100.0
French spoken at home 335,350 28.0 8,028,300 23.3
Primarily 235,315 19.6 6,842,960 19.9
Only 143,835 12.0 5,994,055 17.4
Mostly 91,480 7.6 848,905 2.5
Equally with another language 54,935 4.6 366,160 1.1
Regularly (secondary use) 45,100 3.8 819,180 2.4
No mention of French 863,190 72.0 26,431,750 76.7
Other language(s)
Languages spoken at home 1,198,540 100.0 34,460,050 100.0
Other language(s) spoken at home 335,655 28.0 7,500,780 21.8
Primarily 113,205 9.4 3,950,050 11.5
Only 61,635 5.1 2,280,995 6.6
Mostly 51,570 4.3 1,669,055 4.8
Equally with another language 79,745 6.7 1,481,480 4.3
Regularly (secondary use) 142,705 11.9 2,069,250 6.0
No mention of other language 862,885 72.0 26,959,270 78.2

The vast majority of the Black population live in large urban areas

Chart 9 Black population as a percentage of the population in selected census metropolitan areas, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 9 
Data table for chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 9 Black population in census metropolitan areas, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population in census metropolitan areas
percent
Hamilton 3.3
Winnipeg 3.6
Windsor 3.8
Halifax 3.8
Calgary 3.9
Edmonton 4.5
Ottawa - Gatineau (Quebec part) 5.2
Oshawa 5.7
Ottawa - Gatineau 6.0
Ottawa - Gatineau (Ontario part) 6.3
Montréal 6.8
Toronto 7.5

Atlantic provinces: Longest history

  • Nova Scotia has the largest Black population in the Atlantic provinces and the fifth largest Black population in the country.

Table 3.1
Key statistics for the Black population in the Atlantic provinces, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in the Atlantic provinces Total - Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - Atlantic provinces Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick
number
Total population in 2016 32,080 2,350 825 21,910 6,995
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +45.2 +291.7 +211.3 +21.0 +124.2
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +27.2 +159.7 +27.9 +14.0 +57.0
Percent of Canada’s Black population 2.7 0.2 0.1 1.8 0.6
Percent of region/province’s total population 1.4 0.5 0.6 2.4 1.0
number
Median age 26.7 22.4 22.6 28.3 25.0
Ratio Men/Women 98.3 104.8 107.6 96.1 102.2
Pie chart for Atlantic provinces: Longest history
  • The majority of the Black population living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were born in Canada.

Table 3.2
Generation status for the Black population in the Atlantic provinces, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in the Atlantic provinces Total - Atlantic provinces , Newfoundland and Labrador , Prince Edward Island , Nova Scotia and New Brunswick , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - Atlantic provinces Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick
number percent number percent number percent number percent number percent
First generation 8,705 27.1 1,440 61.3 440 53.3 3,820 17.4 3,005 43.0
Second generation 4,550 14.2 610 26.0 175 21.2 2,360 10.8 1,405 20.1
Third generation or more 18,820 58.7 300 12.8 205 24.8 15,730 71.8 2,585 37.0
  • Three in four (75.9% or 4,605) Black immigrants in the Atlantic provinces have immigrated between 2001 and 2016.
  • Their top birthplaces were Nigeria, Jamaica, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The ethnic and cultural origins that were the most frequently reported by the Black population in this region included: Canadian, AfricanNote 3, English, Irish, Scottish and French.
  • In New Brunswick, close to one third (30.7%) of the Black population had French as their first official language spoken - this was very similar to the overall provincial rate (31.7%).
  • Non-official languages that were most reported as a mother tongue included Niger-Congo languages n.i.e.Note 4, Swahili and Amharic.

Quebec: French speaking

  • Quebec has the second largest Black population, with 26.6% of Canada’s total Black population.
  • In 20 years, the Black population has more than doubled in size in this province – going from 131,970 people in 1996 to 319,230 people in 2016.

Table 4.1
Key statistics for the Black population in Quebec, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in Quebec Quebec, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Quebec
number
Total population in 2016 319,230
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +141.9
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +69.7
Percent of Canada’s Black population 26.6
Percent of region/province’s total population 4.0
number
Median age 29.5
Ratio Men/Women 93.3
Pie chart for Quebec: French speaking
  • The Black population in Quebec is predominately first generation living in the country, but some have also called Canada home for many generations.

Table 4.2
Generation status for the Black population in Quebec, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in Quebec Quebec , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Quebec
number percent
First generation 194,010 60.8
Second generation 109,680 34.4
Third generation or more 15,535 4.9
  • In Quebec, nearly 43% of the foreign-born Black population were born in Haiti. In fact, the largest Haitian community in Canada live in the census metropolitan area of Montréal.
  • About 52,935 (or three in 10) Black immigrants in Quebec are newcomers in the country and were admitted between 2011 and 2016. Close to six in 10 of them came from African countries, but Haiti remains the top source country of recent immigrants.
  • About 180 different ethnic and cultural origins were reported by Black people in Quebec, with Haitian as the top reported origin.
  • French is the most reported mother tongue by the first (38.5%), second (72.8%) and third generation or more (57.2%) of Black people living in Quebec.
    • French is an official language in all of the top six countries of birth of Black immigrants living in Quebec (Haiti, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte D’Ivoire, Senegal and France).
    • About 28% reported that they had a mother tongue other than English or French. The top three languages were Creole, Niger-Congo languages n.i.e.Note 4 and Rundi (Kirundi).
    • When considering the two official languages of Canada, the Black population with French as their first official language spoken represented 81.1%, while the share of those with English as their first official language spoken was 18.1%.

Ontario: Largest Black population in Canada

  • Ontario was home to slightly more than half (52.4%) of the total Black population in Canada.
  • Although the overall Black population in Ontario is growing, its share of the Black population in the country has decreased in 15 years. In 2001, 62.1% of Canada’s Black population was living in this province.

Table 5.1
Key statistics for the Black population in Ontario, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in Ontario Ontario, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ontario
number
Total population in 2016 627,710
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +76.2
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +32.5
Percent of Canada’s Black population 52.4
Percent of region/province’s total population 4.7
number
Median age 30.6
Ratio Men/Women 89.4
Pie chart for Ontario: Largest Black population in Canada
  • Close to half of Ontario’s Black population was born in Canada, which reflects in part, their long immigration history in this province.

Table 5.2
Generation status for the Black population in Ontario, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in Ontario Ontario , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ontario
number percent
First generation 335,025 53.4
Second generation 240,900 38.4
Third generation or more 51,790 8.3
  • In Ontario, Black immigrants came from 150 different countries. About one-half were born in the Caribbean, with Jamaica (33.9%) as the leading source country.
  • Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Somalia, Ghana and Ethiopia were the five other most frequently reported countries for Black immigrants.
  • About 44,415 people in Ontario were Black newcomers (2011 to 2016) and represented 14.1% of all Black immigrants in Ontario. Top countries of birth for this group were Jamaica, Nigeria, Haiti and Ethiopia.
  • Overall, more than 200 ethnic and cultural origins were reported by the Black population in Ontario, with Jamaican as the most frequently reported origin.
  • Nearly 80% of Black people in Ontario reported English as their mother tongue, and close to 6% reported French.
  • Somali, Akan (Twi) and Amharic were the other most frequently reported mother tongues by the Black population in Ontario.
  • Among the 83,940 immigrants with French as their first official language spoken in Ontario, 31.4% were Black. This proportion reached 48.4% among newcomers (2011-2016).

The Prairie provinces: Fastest growing

  • The fastest growing Black population in Canada is in the Prairies, where it has more than quadrupled in size over 20 years, from 39,955 in 1996 to 174,655 in 2016.
  • The Albertan Black population grew fivefold between 1996 and 2016, while Manitoba’s Black population has almost tripled in size and the Black population in Saskatchewan has more than tripled in the same period of time.
  • This rapid growth of the Black population in the Prairies has been driven by immigration, mainly from African countries.

Table 6.1
Key statistics for the Black population in the Prairie provinces, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in the Prairie provinces Total - The Prairie provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - The Prairie provinces Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta
number
Total population in 2016 174,655 30,340 14,925 129,390
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +337.1 +181.6 +249.9 +419.3
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +157.5 +93.7 +193.5 +174.9
Percent of Canada’s Black population 14.6 2.5 1.2 10.8
Percent of region/province’s total population 2.8 2.4 1.4 3.3
number
Median age 27.3 26.8 25.6 27.7
Ratio Men/Women 107.8 108.5 110.8 107.2
Pie chart for The Prairie Provinces: Fastest growing
  • Black people in the Prairies are predominately first generation living in the country, but some have also called Canada home for many generations.

Table 6.2
Generation status for the Black population in the Prairie provinces, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in the Prairie provinces Total - Prairie provinces , Manitoba , Saskatchewan and Alberta , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - Prairie provinces Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta
number percent number percent number percent number percent
First generation 113,395 64.9 20,515 67.6 10,290 68.9 82,590 63.8
Second generation 50,060 28.7 7,750 25.5 3,575 24.0 38,735 29.9
Third generation or more 11,195 6.4 2,075 6.8 1,055 7.1 8,065 6.2
  • In 2016, the main birthplaces for Black immigrants in the Prairies were Nigeria, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Somalia and Eritrea.
  • About 37,290 of the Black population were newcomers in the country, which represented 36.2% of the Black immigrant population in the Prairies.
  • AfricanNote 3, Jamaican and Nigerian were among the top reported ethnic or cultural origins for the Black population in the Prairie provinces.
  • Almost all (94.6%) of the Black population in this region reported a single mother tongue.
  • English was the mother tongue of more than half of this population, while 4.6% reported French as their mother tongue.
  • Those with a non-official mother tongue represented 35.7% of the Black population. Somali, Amharic, and Tigrigna were the top non-official mother tongues reported for the region.
  • Of all immigrants with French as their first official language spoken in the Prairies (23,305), 39.8% were Black. This proportion reached 53.3% among newcomers (2011-2016).

British Columbia: Few recent Black immigrants

  • In British Columbia the Black population is growing, but at a slower pace compared to neighbouring provinces.
  • Between 1996 and 2016, the Black population in British Columbia almost doubled in size.

Table 7.1
Key statistics for the Black population in British Columbia, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in British Columbia British Columbia, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia
number
Total population in 2016 43,505
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +86.9
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +53.6
Percent of Canada’s Black population 3.6
Percent of region/province’s total population 1.0
number
Median age 28.6
Ratio Men/Women 106.7
Pie chart for British Columbia: Few recent Black immigrants
  • Many Black people in British Columbia have a long history in the country.

Table 7.2
Generation status for the Black population in British Columbia, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in British Columbia British Columbia , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia
number percent
First generation 23,465 53.9
Second generation 14,280 32.8
Third generation or more 5,755 13.2
  • Black immigrants in British Columbia came from different parts of the world, such as Jamaica, Nigeria, the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, the United Kingdom and Somalia.
  • About 4,405 Black people were newcomers, which represented 2.5% of the total recent immigrant population living the province.
  • AfricanNote 3, Canadian, Jamaican, English, American and Scottish were the most frequently reported ethnic origins by the Black population in British Columbia.
  • Of the non-official languages reported for mother tongue, the top languages were Somali, Amharic and Niger-Congo languages, n.i.e.Note 4.
  • Considering Canada’s two official languages, 94.4% of the Black population had English as their first language spoken compared to 4.4% with French as their first official language spoken. Among Black immigrants, these proportions were 92.0% and 6.0%, respectively.

The Territories: Smallest Black population in Canada

  • The Territories had the fewest number of Black people in the country.

Table 8.1
Key statistics for the Black population in the Territories, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Key statistics for the Black population in the Territories Total - The Territories, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - The Territories Yukon Territory Northwest
Territories
Nunavut
number
Total population in 2016 1,350 265 760 325
percent
Population growth rate (1996-2016) +285.7 +112.0 +322.2 +622.2
Population growth rate (2006-2016) +125.0 +112.0 +102.7 +225.0
Percent of Canada’s Black population 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0
Percent of region/province’s total population 1.2 0.8 1.8 0.9
number
Median age 35.3 35.9 35.0 36.4
Ratio Men/Women 118.5 82.8 133.8 120.0
Pie chart for The Territories: Smallest Black population in Canada
  • The first generation Black population makes up the majority of the total Black population in the Territories.

Table 8.2
Generation status for the Black population in the Territories, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Generation status for the Black population in the Territories Total - The Territories , Yukon Territory , Northwest Territories and Nunavut , calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total - The Territories Yukon Territory Northwest Territories Nunavut
number percent number percent number percent number percent
First generation 865 64.1 120 45.3 515 67.8 230 70.8
Second generation 360 26.7 95 35.8 185 24.3 80 24.6
Third generation or more 125 9.3 50 18.9 60 7.9 15 4.6
  • Top places of birth for the Black population in the Territories are: Canada, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia.
  • Canadian and Jamaican were the two most frequently reported ethnic or cultural origins for the Black population in the Territories.
  • The top reported mother tongues: English, French, Niger-Congo languages, n.i.e.Note 4, Arabic and Shona.

Conclusion

This portrait of Canada’s Black population from the Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics is based mainly on 2016 Census data. It provides a demographic overview of the Black population, as well as key statistics related to their ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity and a few geographical highlights. However, this portrait is not meant to be exhaustive.

Although it highlights the great diversity within the Black population, it does not present any result related to the several challenges and issues faced by many members of Black communities in Canada.

Challenges and issues such as those related to labour market integration, income inequalities, differential access to resources, health conditions, discrimination, school dropout, etc., may impact differently various groups within the Black population. Moreover, although the Black population generally has similar characteristics compared to the overall population, they often present different socio-economic outcomes. For example, the unemployment rate for the Black population is higher than for Canada’s total population.

Disaggregated 2016 Census data tables with selected demographic, cultural, labour market and income characteristics are available on Statistics Canada’s Census program website which can provide insights on similarities and differences within the Black population as well as between the Black population and other populations in Canada.

New analytical products will be released later which will describe in more detail the characteristics of Canada’s Black population, as well as their socio-economic outcomes.

Acknowledgments

This portrait was prepared by Hélène Maheux and Deniz Do, analysts of the Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division. Special thanks to Jean-Pierre Corbeil and Éric Caron Malenfant for their advice and guidance. The authors also wish to thank Émilie Lavoie, Alejandro Paez Silva, Julien Acaffou, Christine Bizier, Nathalie Villemure and Denis Theriault for their input and assistance in the verification and finalizing of this portrait. They would also like to thank Jennifer Arkell for the creation of the cover page for this portrait.

The authors are also grateful for the members of the Expert Working Group on Black Communities for their invaluable insight and comments for this project. Members include: Malinda S. Smith (professor, University of Alberta), Myrlande Pierre (researcher, Centre de recherche en immigration, ethnicité et citoyenneté de l’UQAM), Carl James (professor, York University), Scot Wortley (professor, University of Toronto), and Frantz Voltaire (director, Centre international de documentation et d’information haïtienne, caribéenne et afro-canadienne).

Notes


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