Every five years, Statistics Canada conducts a census to gain insight into the profile of communities across Canada. The most recent census was conducted in May 2021 and over the past year, Statistics Canada has been gradually releasing data by themes. Census data not only provides a statistical profile of the population, but is also used to support all levels of government, community organizations, and businesses to help them become more accessible, inclusive, and responsive for local communities.
The data released so far by Statistics Canada tells a fascinating story about the diversity of the North Shore community. Five of the key learnings for us about North Shore, from Census 2021, include:
- There is significant linguistic diversity in the North Shore community.
Approximately 100 mother tongue languages are spoken across the North Shore! The most widely spoken ones are: English, Farsi, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Tagalog, Korean, and Cantonese. There are slight variations across the different municipalities. For example, there is higher proportion of people in the District of North Vancouver for whom English is their mother tongue language, compared to the District of West Vancouver.
There are also many bi-/multi-lingual speakers on the North Shore. Census data indicates that 44% of the North Shore population can conduct a conversation in two or more languages. In the District of West Vancouver, this increases to more than half of the population. A quarter of the bi-/multi-lingual speakers on the North Shore are children and youth age 24 or younger, and 58% are adults ages 25 to 64 years.
- Immigrants and non-permanent residents (e.g. temporary residents) make up a large proportion of the North Shore population.
As reported by Census 2021, 37% of the North Shore population are immigrants and 3% are non-permanent residents (i.e. those with a work/study permit or claimed refugee status). The District of West Vancouver has a higher proportion of immigrants (46%), whereas the City of North Vancouver has a higher proportion of non-permanent residents (4%).
The data shows that the immigrant population on the North Shore grew by approximately 8% since Census 2016, exceeding the pace of the growth of the non-immigrant population during the same period (i.e. Canadians by birth).
It is important to note that Census 2021, only includes im/migrants who arrived in Canada on or prior to May 11, 2021. It does not capture more recent trends, such as the increase in immigration arrivals coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and the arrival of Ukraine newcomers in 2022.
- Immigrants on the North Shore come from 120+ different countries.
There is significant diversity in the countries of origin of immigrants on the North Shore. The most common birthplaces among immigrants are seen to be: Iran, the UK, China, the Philippines, the USA, and Korea. There are also slight variations across the municipalities. For example, in the District of West Vancouver, China is the top place of birth for immigrants while for immigrants in the City and District of North Vancouver it is Iran.
- Many immigrants on the North Shore have previously lived in Canada as temporary residents.
Among immigrants on the North Shore who arrived after 1980, 27% previously held a study permit, work permit, asylum claim, or another permit for temporary residence in Canada. This proportion increases among immigrants in the City of North Vancouver and decreases in the District of West Vancouver.
- The majority of immigrants on the North Shore came to Canada as economic immigrants.
Over 72% of immigrants on the North Shore who arrived after 1980 came as economic immigrants (principal or secondary applicants). The proportion of economic immigrants is higher among immigrants on the North Shore, compared to Metro Vancouver as a whole.
The increasing diversity of the population on the North Shore encourages us to reflect on what these statistics mean, in terms of our collective work in building more inclusive and equitable communities.