Canadian immigrants have a stronger sense of belonging in Ontario and Atlantic Canada
Sense of belonging to a country, especially as immigrants, has long been used to measure social integration and national identification in Canada. The 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by Statistics Canada provides insight into the provinces and territories where immigrants feel a strong sense of belonging.
According to the survey, immigrants in Ontario and the Atlantic-Canadian provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick) reported a powerful sense of belonging to Canada. On the other hand, immigrants in British Columbia and Alberta reported a lower sense of belonging.
What factors affect the sense of belonging of Canadian immigrants?
In large part, post-migration experiences that give immigrants favorable feedback from their surroundings, such as whether they feel accepted in this country and whether they believe they have strong possibilities for success, influence how immigrants feel like they belong in Canada.
The results of this survey also imply that the following other factors may have an effect on the “cross-provincial variation” in immigrants’ sense of belonging:
- Socio-Demographics of Immigrants
- Each Region’s Immigrant Composition
- Acceptance Feelings/Instances of Discrimination
- Context and structural factors
Socio-Demographics of Immigrants
The number of years since immigration, the person’s age at the time of immigration, their immigration admission category, and the population group they are emigrating into are sociodemographic characteristics that may affect an immigrant’s sense of belonging in Canada.
The socio-demographic makeup of the immigrant population in each province varies as a result of long-term variations in immigrants’ patterns of settlement. These compositional changes may have an impact on the diversity in immigrants’ sense of belonging to Canada among provinces.
Each Region’s Immigrant Composition
“Immigrant composition” refers to a different set of factors that are in play. Recent immigrants make up a varied proportion of the total population in each Canadian province.
According to a survey from 2021, for instance, “the share of recent immigrants ranged from 14% of immigrants in British Columbia and Ontario to 30% (or more) of immigrants residing in Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces.”
According to this survey, a region’s immigrant population may have an impact on immigrants’ feelings of belonging in Canada because these feelings are typically “weaker among recent immigrants than among longer-term immigrants.” This suggests that immigrants’ sense of belonging to Canada grows over time, according to the survey’s authors. In light of this, the regional average for immigrants’ sense of belonging may be stronger in those provinces where they have lived for a long-term duration.
Acceptance Feelings/Instances of Discrimination
Diverse opinions on inclusion and exclusion may result from the diversity of different ethnic groups within the immigrant population and their variance in size across different regions. The likelihood that an immigrant would have a strong sense of belonging in their selected province is significantly influenced by discrimination. While some immigrants experience exclusion, others are welcomed by their community.
Context and structural factors
When it comes to “structural factors,” such as employment, educational possibilities, economic diversity, etc., there are significant regional differences across Canada. Each of these has an impact on how newcomers integrate and acculturate. Additionally, socioeconomic conditions are another name for structural factors in the territories and provinces.
The 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) results
Last but not least, the information from StatsCan’s 2020 GSS shows some significant variation in the perceived sense of belonging among immigrants in Canada, which might be partly attributable to the factors mentioned above.
The % “predicted probability of immigrants reporting a very strong sense of belonging to Canada by province of residence” is shown in the table below.
In general, immigrants believe a high sense of belonging to Canada when living in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces (PEI, NS, NL, and NB), although this feeling was reduced among immigrants in British Columbia and Alberta.
It’s interesting to note that the immigrant makeup of Alberta plays a significant role in the disparity between immigrants who live there and those who reside in Ontario in terms of their sense of belonging to Canada. According to this study, “if these factors were equal, the proportion of immigrants in Alberta who reported a very strong sense of belonging to Canada would be similar to that in Ontario.”
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