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Census Data Shows Quebec Is More Catholic, Arab & Canadian Than Other, Lesser Provinces

Don't worry, it's more Québécois, too.

Staff Writer
A massive crowd at Montreal's Place des Arts. Right, people cross the street into Montreal's Chinatown.

A massive crowd at Montreal's Place des Arts. Right, people cross the street into Montreal's Chinatown.

Although Toronto has long coveted its role as the most diverse, multicultural metropolis in Canada, Montreal isn't far behind. The 2021 Canadian census revealed how different regions stack up demographically, and Quebec isn't just populated by white franco-Catholics — though there definitely are a lot of them.

Quebec is the province with the highest Arab population in Canada, accounting for 3.4% of Quebec's overall population. It also has the second-largest proportion of Black people — 5.1% of Quebec's population — sitting just behind Ontario's 5.5%.

But the majority of Canada identifies as white, nearly 70% of the country's population. The only major areas with white minorities are Vancouver, Toronto, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Quebec also stands out from other regions in expected ways: it's the only province where more than half the population identifies as Catholic. But Catholicism isn't quite as dominant as it would seem from that statistic. In 2011, nearly 75% of Quebec identified as Catholic.

It's important to note that the census data on religion, like race and ethnicity, can't exactly be used to compare population changes since the terminology used in gathering these data changes each year. As the census attempts to get highly accurate self-reporting, it has added more than 500 examples of ethnic or cultural origins that can be consulted.

One of the identities affected by these shifts is "Canadian," which was the first example ethnicity given on the 2016 census when 32.3% of the population identified with that label. Since then, and with the inclusion of more cultural identifiers, that number has fallen to just 15.6% self-identified as Canadians.

Quebec's ethnic identifier, Québécois, has experienced growth as the Canadian label has fallen in scale. In 2016, only 195,000 census-takers counted themselves as Québécois. Last year, that number shot up to 982,000.

    Willa Holt
    Staff Writer
    Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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