About two-fifths of Canadians have ethnic origins other than English, French or aboriginal, and roughly one-half of the country’s population consists of first-generation immigrants.
In recognition of Canada’s pluralistic nature, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government adopted the world’s first multiculturalism policy in 1971, which 17 years later led to the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, a law that promotes equality in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country.
Canada is also officially bilingual. Though most Canadians speak English, about one-third speak French – one-quarter of them outside Québec. Every year, millions of young people study English or French as a second language.
Today, the country’s aboriginal community, which is growing at nearly twice the rate of the overall population, represents about three per cent of all Canadians. About 69 per cent are First Nations (Indians), 26 per cent are Métis (people of both aboriginal and European ancestry) and the rest are Inuit (people of the Arctic).
Heritage Canada: www.pch.gc.ca/multi/intro_e.shtml
Department of Public Works and Government Services: www.pwgsc.gc.ca