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Canada’s ethnic neighbourhoods sparkle with diversity, says new study

Canada’s ethnocultural neighbourhoods are not ghettos, according to a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), an independent, national, bilingual, not-for-profit organization based in Montreal.

As the rapid growth of enclaves in our largest cities continues to transform Canada’s social landscape, we should stop assuming that these neighbourhoods are problematic for the integration of new Canadians.

“In Canada, as in Europe, enclaves are often viewed as poor inner-city neighbourhoods, where members of minority groups are socially isolated and economically deprived,” says immigration expert Daniel Hiebert. “But when we take a look at the Canadian data, the picture that emerges is very different.”

Hiebert studies enclaves in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – areas in which a specific group dominates the population of a neighbourhood. He observes that enclaves are often characterized by “profound ethnocultural diversity.” Moreover, enclaves are more common in suburban neighbourhoods, where residents have average, and in some cases high, levels of home ownership and education. “This contradicts any portrayal of enclaves as places of marked poverty and ethnic isolation,” he argues.

According to Hiebert, the growth of enclave neighbourhoods in Canadian metropolitan areas should be seen as an opportunity. “They provide economic assistance to their residents and an opportunity for intercultural engagement, especially for newcomers to Canada.” In light of the significant changes in Canada’s urban fabric, he calls for municipal governments to have a greater voice in immigration and integration matters.

“We should dispense with the widely held assumption that enclaves are antithetical to economic and cultural integration,” he concludes.

Ethnocultural Minority Enclaves in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver by Daniel Hiebert can be downloaded from the Institute’s website at irpp.org.

Posted: Sep 30, 2015

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