What is a typical Canadian household?

With the partial release of the 2011 National Household Survey results, we get a glimpse of our changing population.

Photo: The Boone/iStockphoto

My parents are both immigrants. Their families came to Canada after surviving the Second World War and Nazi occupation in Holland. Fearing another war, they left friends and family behind, travelled across the ocean, settled in rural Ontario, struggled to learn English and tried to find work.

My mom was 17 when she arrived. She had dreams of travelling around Europe and studying, but she gave all that up when her parents announced their relocation plans. Instead, she found herself working in a laundry (she can still iron like nobody’s business), giving all her money to her parents to help them make ends meet. Almost 10 years later, she got her chance to go to college.

My family’s story is far from unique and is less original than ever. Today, Statistics Canada released two portions of the 2011 National Household Survey (this is what replaced the mandatory long-form census that the Harper government axed three years ago). One section is about Aboriginal peoples of Canada and the second is about our country’s immigration and diversity.

The results reveal our changing population, which I personally find fascinating (I’m a geek for stats). Here are some of the survey’s highlights:

• In 2011, our population included 6.8 million people born outside of Canada. Of those, 17.2% arrived between 2006 and 2011 and more than half came from Asia.

• 93.5% of immigrants can speak English and/or French. 61.2% can speak in English or French and at least one other language.

• Of the G8 countries, Canada has the highest proportion of people born in another country (20.6%). Germany is second with 13%.

• 4.3% of our 2011 population had an Aboriginal identity. This is an increase from 3.3% in the 2001 census.

• Our Aboriginal population increased by 20.1% between 2006 and 2011. (The rest of the population increased by 5.2%.)

• Aboriginal children (14 and under) made up 28% of the total Aboriginal population.

Click here for more results on the Statistics Canada site.