1 in 6 Londoners identify themselves as visible minorities, census shows

London is becoming increasingly diverse, according to newly released numbers from the 2016 census, which show 1 in 6 people in the city consider themselves a visible minority.

Demographer says integrating newcomers will be 'a crucial test' for London's future growth

The latest census data shows Canada is becoming increasingly diverse and more of its citizens were born outside its borders. (Adina Bresge/Canadian Press)

London is becoming increasingly diverse, according to newly released numbers from the 2016 census, which show one in six people in the city consider themselves a visible minority. 

The data was among a trove of demographic information from the 2016 census released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, which painted a picture of a country increasingly populated by citizens who were born outside its borders. 

In London, one in five people in the city are foreign-born, according to the 2016 census, with another one in six saying they self-identify as a visible minority. 

The data is a reflection of the changing face of a city, one that's becoming increasingly diverse as immigrants flee calamity or seek new economic opportunities in London, according to Michael Haan, a sociology professor and demographer at Western University. 

"What's new about this more recent flow is a steady growth in the visible minority population...The real test for the city now is going to be the extent to which they can integrate people who do not look like themselves," he said.

"I think this is a crucial test...Because it's going to determine whether or not we can continue to grow." 

As a proportion of the population, people who consider themselves a visible minority are one of the fastest growing segments of the city. 

In the past five years, the number of people who identify themselves as a visible minority in the city has grown by three per cent. That's more than 78,000 people according to the 2016 census, compared to just more than 61,000 in the 2011 census. 

Nicolas Hermina, 37, from Colombia

(Colin Butler/CBC News)

Why he came to London: "It's a great city to start," he said. "Not too small, not too big, it has great parks and now that I have kids I find that it's very easy for the kids, to go from one point to another one and it's still very safe and family-oriented."

His favourite thing about the city: "I think something great about London is Sunfest," he said. "You get people from every single culture dancing and happy in one spot."

How London can improve the immigrant experience: "Jobs," he said. "I think for some people it's hard to find jobs and I think it's hard for Canadians to accept immigration when there's not enough jobs for everyone."

Tong Niu, 21, from China

(Colin Butler/CBC News)

Why she came to London: "I've been in London for three years," she said. "I came to study at Western University." 

Her favourite thing about the city: "The view is really beautiful," she said. "I really like the parks here and the people are really nice here." 

How London can improve the immigrant experience: "More cultural exchange," she said, noting the community should take an interest in more foreign students. "Put them together, teach some really Canadian things and know more about Canada."

Omar Khoudeida, 38, from Iraq

(Colin Butler/CBC News)

Why he came to London: "I went to Winnipeg [where] I stayed for a year. The weather was super cold and also I had friends in London."

His favourite thing about the city: "This city is not too big, it's quiet, it's the perfect place to raise a family." 

How London can improve the immigrant experience: "Canada is a great country," he said. "I think we should accept people the way they are. People came here as immigrants, but they came here to integrate. They didn't come to steal anyone's job, or land, or house, they came here for safety and I think we should give them a chance. Listen to them, they all have stories."

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca