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Visible Minorities

The term “visible minorities” has long been used in Canada to distinguish ethnic groups of non-European (i.e., non-White) origin from the European-origin ethnic groups which predominate in this country, as well as from Aboriginal Canadians. The implication is that “visible minorities” are “visible” in so far as they are racially distinct from “White” (and Aboriginal) ethnic groups.

People of non-European immigrant origins in Saskatchewan have settled mainly in larger cities (Saskatoon and Regina), especially in recent decades; yet there are examples of longstanding non-European immigration into rural Saskatchewan: as café owners Chinese have long been widely dispersed in rural communities, and an early Black settlement was established at Eldon near Maidstone in 1909. According to the 2001 Census, visible minorities comprised only 2.9% of the total population of Saskatchewan (compared to 13.4% of the total population of Canada); Saskatchewan residents of non-European origin (excluding Aboriginals) numbered 27,580. This visible minority population is extremely diverse.

The largest visible minority population is of East Asian origin or ethnicity, with a total of 9,155 residents, most of whom were Chinese. Another 635 residents claimed Korean ethnic origin, and 435 Japanese (many likely being descendants of Japanese deported from British Columbia during World War II).

People of Southeast Asian origin numbered 5,630. Most (3,030) were Filipino, with people of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Malay and Singaporean origin accounting for the remainder.

The Black population of Saskatchewan numbered at least 4,165 in 2001. Extremely diverse, it represents people from many cultures. Blacks have come to Saskatchewan from the United States, the Caribbean, and directly from Africa. In fact, the largest increase currently consists of new arrivals from Sudan.

There were at least 4,090 residents of South Asian origins, reflecting wide ethno-cultural diversity  - they include Sikhs, Indian Hindus, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Moslems, Sri Lankan Tamils (Hindus) and Sinhalese (Buddhists), as well as Christians from throughout the region.

In 2001, 2,005 residents of Saskatchewan were of Latin American origins. Part of the larger Hispanic community, they have come from diverse countries of origin, mostly from Chile but with increasing immigration from Central America.

Saskatchewan residents of Middle Eastern origins totaled 1,475 in 2001, according to census data. Most are Arab and Muslim, and have arrived recently, although some Syrians and Lebanese have long lived in Saskatchewan. Other groups from this region include Iranians, Afghans, Turks, Armenians and Palestinians. Some are Chaldean and Artiochean Christians.

Apart from these specific ethnic origins, 420 residents have listed other “visible minority” origins, and 640 residents were either of mixed or undifferentiated “visible minority” origins.

Alan Anderson

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