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Ski industry greets the changing face of Canada

One of every five Canadians was born outside the country



The Great White North is not nearly as white as it used to be, according to the latest report released by Statistics Canada, based on information from the 2006 Census.

According to the report, almost 20 per cent of all Canadians are foreign-born, which is up more than a full percentage point over the previous census in 2001. During the same time frame Canada’s population grew by 13.6 per cent, while our Canadian-born birthrate stalled at just 3.3 per cent. More than two-thirds of the country’s population growth is the result of immigration.

In British Columbia the trend is even more pronounced, with 27.5 per cent of roughly 4.1 million residents born outside Canada.

That’s the highest number of foreign-born Canadians in about 75 years, but what makes it more pronounced is where new Canadians are coming from. While the majority of immigrants in the 1920s and 30s came from Europe, now about six in 10 immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 came from East Asia and the Middle East. China is at the top of the list, accounting for 14 per cent of new immigrants between 2001 and 2006, followed by India at almost 12 per cent. The Philippines and Pakistan are third and fourth at seven and five per cent respectively, while the U.S. is fifth on the list. Rounding out the top-10 are South Korea, Romania, Iran, the United Kingdom and Columbia.

Europeans still make up a large portion of immigrants, roughly 16.1 per cent, but that’s way down from even 1970 when Europeans accounted for more than 60 per cent of all newcomers to Canada. As well, many new European immigrants are also coming from less affluent European countries such as Romania, rather than Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.

While the changing face of Canada is easy to see in Canada’s urban centres like Vancouver and Toronto, it’s less visible on the ski slopes. While the ski industry has been aware of changing demographics for decades, as well as the impact of aging baby boomers, Jimmy Spencer of the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) says the most recent census is another call to arms.

“I think all the operators are very conscious of the trend, such as the large Sikh and Chinese populations in Vancouver, and a lot of overtures have been made right across Canada to try and engage those groups,” he said. “It was one of the major issues we discussed at our meeting last year, and our goal is definitely to try to get these Canadians introduced to skiing and snowboarding.