“We don’t choose the ethnic categories on the Census,” Chief Statistician Anil Arora testified at 2020 hearings of the Commons languages committee. “They reflect the responses from the previous Census.”
Arora acknowledged changes to the ethnic aspect of the Census. “The ‘Canadian’ category was one example we included,” she said.
On Question 23 of the Census, StatsCan asked, “What were the ethnic or cultural origins of this person’s ancestors?” A total of 5,667,205 answered “Canadian,” the largest single ethnic group, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
The federal organization permitted “Canadian” ethnicity after public outcry over the 1991 Census that excluded national self-identification as an option. Thousands filed protests through a Census hotline.
“How many generations do we have to go back before we’re Canadian?” Mel Hurtig, Edmonton publisher of the Canadian Encyclopedia, told reporters at the time.
“Responses to the ethnic or cultural origins questions on the Census reflect respondents’ perceptions of their background. As many such factors can influence response changes over time,” said a StatsCan Ethnic Or Cultural Origin Reference Guide.
“Often referred to as a person’s ancestral ‘roots,’ ethnic or cultural origins should not be confused with citizenship, nationality, language or place of birth.”
According to StasCan, 5.3 million self-identified as English, 3.9 million French, 4.4 million Irish, 4.4 million Scottish, 2.9 million German, 1.7 million Chinese, 1.5 million Italian, 1.3 million Ukrainian and 1.3 million Indian.
The questionnaire also identified thousands of Canadians who tied ethnicity to their home province. About 91,670 answered “Newfoundlander,” and 80,550 responded “Ontarian.”
The Census counted 981,640 who listed “Québecois” as their ethnic or cultural origin and 32,575 as Albertans.