Blacks in Canada - Orientation

Identification. The Black population in Canada today is derived from several migratory streams. The largest group, numbering approximately 195,000, are relatively recent Migrants from the Caribbean. Blacks have, however, been in Canada since the early eighteenth century. The major division in the population is that between the descendants of Earlier Black settlers and those of more recent Caribbean origin. The major home countries have been Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Divisions based on country of origin affect the first-generation migrant community, but these become increasingly less important to the new generation of Canadian-born.

Location. Black migrants from the Caribbean live primarily in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Smaller numbers now live in other urban centers. Descendants of the earlier settlers live mostly in the province of Nova Scotia in its Capital city of Halifax (and Bedford) and in smaller rural communities spread throughout the province. In the mid-eighteenth century, a small group of Blacks from the United States settled in Amber Valley, Alberta, where a few of their descendants still live, and a similar group found its way to Vancouver Island.

Demography. The Black population of Canada is, according to the 1986 census, 239,000, of whom 193,440 are of Caribbean origin. These census figures, however, are not regarded as accurate because they do not differentiate between racial status and place of origin. In addition, persons of mixed race status may be counted in several categories and Black persons migrating from Great Britain (or other countries) are designated as British. The best estimates suggest that approximately 300,000 Blacks live in Canada today, and the vast majority are of recent Caribbean origin. There are approximately 123,000 Black (and Caribbean) people in Toronto, nearly 50,000 in Montreal, and about 15,000 in Halifax.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Black population in Canada is English-speaking, with the exception of migrants from Haiti who have settled in Quebec, primarily in the city of Montreal. They speak French and Creole as spoken in Haiti.

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