Volume 96, Issue 64
Thursday, January 23, 2003

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London's face becoming increasingly multicultural

Jillian Van Acker
Gazette Staff

It's great to be Canadian, eh?

According to the 2001 census by Statistics Canada, there has been an increase in the amount of people who consider their ethnic background to be Canadian. There is also an increase in visible ethnic minorities here in London, the census finds.

"We suspect this increase is due to the recent arrival of immigrants," said Tina Chui, senior analyst at StatsCan for immigration and ethnocultural statistics programming. "Visible minorities represent nine per cent of London's total population."

Chui also added that one in 10 Londoners between the ages of 15 and 24 were part of a visible minority.

"Quite a few international students come to study here in Canada and decide to stay when they are done their education," said G. Edward Ebanks, director of Western's Population Studies Centre with the department of sociology. "In some cases, relatives decide to come join them."

Ebanks said Canada's immigration has shifted from Europeans to other ethnicities. The immigration is more centered around people claiming refugee status from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, he added.

Chui also said there has been an increase in people who refer to their ethnic background as Canadian. The most common reason for this is that people have been in the country for many generations, she said.

"It is only in recent years that the census has allowed people to pick Canadian as an option for ethnicity," said Western sociology professor Kevin McQuillan. "We're seeing more and more people select that [option] because there are people whose families have been in Canada for a long time. Also, there are people whose background is quite elaborate and it is hard for them to identify with any one."

"I think it's positive for London to have an increase in visible minorities," said Russ Monteith, deputy mayor of London. "It is a cultural enrichment [of] our community and a positive economic contribution as well because they bring their skills and education with them."

"It contributes to cultural diversity and will hopefully have a continuing impact in the future," Monteith said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE