ARCHIVED – A description of the ethnic segregation/mixing within major Canadian metropolitan areas project


The “Ethnic Segregation/Mixing within Major Canadian Metropolitan Areas Project” investigates through maps the residential and workplace geographic distributions of foreign-born and visible minority [note 1] groups living in Canada’s largest cities. A principal objective is to use maps to identify neighbourhoods or districts in a city where specific immigrant and visible minority groups are geographic concentrated, as well as those areas where these same groups are absent or relatively under-represented. Research has typically focused on the distribution and concentration patterns of immigrant and visible minority groups in terms of residential space, in part owing to the economic, social and cultural significance of housing and neighbourhoods in our society. Differences in residential location are also believed to reflect the processes that create social stratification between groups, as well as indicate the magnitude of differentiation between groups.

The project devotes considerable attention to residential location, but extends conventional approaches by also examining the geographies of employment for a range of immigrant and visible minority groups in each city. Implicitly the project emphasizes the ways in which immigrant and visible minority geographies in a city shift as people move from home to work (and back again), and as such encourages investigation of potential social encounters between different ethnocultural groups in contexts beyond residential neighbourhoods.

A second objective of this project is to identify those areas within cities that can be characterized by ethnocultural diversity or homogeneity. The majority of the project focuses on the distribution and relative concentration of individual groups across cities, which in itself does not reveal a great deal about the degree of group mixing in residential spaces. As a consequence, the second component of the project shifts to deliberately consider diversity and utilizes a diversity index measure to identify neighbourhoods and districts that are at least demographically diverse.

This document outlines the basic structure and composition of the project, as well as key concepts used in the development of the maps. The intent is to provide an information baseline that can be used to interpret and analyze the maps. The document does not describe each individual map or provide an overview of the geographies of immigrants and visible minority groups in each city. The intent is that the maps be used as an information resource by policy makers, researchers, service providers, and community groups that work with immigrant and visible minority groups or on service and policy questions.


[1] The visible minority variable comprises 13 categories, including that portion of the population that does not self-identify as a visible minority. The categories are: Chinese, South Asian, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Southeast Asian, Arab, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, Visible Minority not included elsewhere, Multiple Visible Minorities and Other (i.e., European-origin or ‘white’ group. The visible minority variable essentially classifies the non-Aboriginal population based on ‘race’ or phenotypic differences, and was originally developed to measure progress toward employment equity. As specified in the Employment Equity Act, members of Visible Minorities are non-Aboriginal individuals who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in skin colour.

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