South Asians in Canada: Ethnic Origin and Country of Birth

South Asians were the largest visible minority group in Canada according to the 2006 Census. However, South Asians are a very diverse group with respect to both ethnic origin and country of birth.

Ethnic origin of South Asians in Canada

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

13.1% of South Asians reported multiple ethnic origins. The “ethnic origins” or “ancestral backgrounds” of South Asians are shown in the bar graph below. (As a person can have more than one ethnic origin, these ethnic categories are not mutually exclusive.) Most South Asians (69.0%) were of East Indian ethnic origin.

East Indian, 69%. Pakistani, 9.3%. Sri Lankan, 7.8%. Punjabi, 4.1%. Canadian, 2.7%. Tamil, 2.7%. European, 2.6%. British Isles, 2.5%. Bangladeshi, 1.8%.

Since there were 1,262,900 South Asians in Canada according to the 2006 Census, the number of East Indians in Canada was about 871,000. (For individuals who want to compare the size of the largest South Asian subgroup with the size of the Chinese “visible minority” group, the number of East Indians in Canada (871,000) was lower than the number of Chinese (1,216,600).)

Country of birth of South Asians in Canada

29.3% of South Asians were Canadian-born, while 70.7% were foreign-born.

A majority of the foreign-born South Asians came from countries in the Indian subcontinent, such as India (48.8%), Pakistan (14.6%), Sri Lanka (11.7%) and Bangladesh (3.6%). The other leading source countries of birth among the foreign-born South Asian visible minorities were Guyana (4.2%), Trinidad and Tobago (2.5%), Fiji (2.4%), the United Republic of Tanzania (1.9%), Kenya (1.8%) and the United Kingdom (1.6%).

Applying these foreign-country percentages to the percentage of South Asians that were foreign-born (70.7%), and adding in the percentage of South Asians that were Canadian-born (29.3%), we can extrapolate a more integrated overview of South Asians’ countries of birth.

Country of birth Percentage
Canada 29.3
India 34.5
Pakistan 10.3
Sri Lanka 8.3
Guyana 3.0
Bangladesh 2.5
Trinidad and Tobago 1.8
Fiji 1.7
United Republic of Tanzania 1.3
Kenya 1.3
United Kingdom 1.1
Other 4.9

The pie chart below was generated from the above data:

South Asian's Country of Birth pie chart

Sources:

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2 Responses to “South Asians in Canada: Ethnic Origin and Country of Birth”

  1. links for 2008-05-20 « Canadian People of Colour Says:

    […] South Asians in Canada: Ethnic origin and Country of Birth « Restructure! “South Asians were the largest visible minority group in Canada according to the 2006 Census. However, South Asians are a very diverse group with respect to both ethnic origin and country of birth.” (tags: SouthAsian asian Canada visibleminority demographics statistics ethnicity birthplace diversity minority desi) […]

  2. There are more Sri Lankans in Canada than in the United States (probably). « Restructure! Says:

    […] South Asians in Canada: Ethnic Origin and Country of Birth by Restructure! Posted in Charts, Graphs, Visualizations. Tags: asian, language, United States, Canada, ethnicity, immigration, statistics, demographics, South Asian, Toronto, Ontario, Sri Lankan, Canadian, Tamil, Sri Lanka, South Asia, Sinhalese, 2006. No Comments » […]


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