Ethnic enclaves in Toronto, 2001 – 2006

A packed house gathered last week at the Joint Centre for Excellence on Research in Immigration and Settlement. Building on their earlier work on ethnic enclaves in Toronto, professors Mohammed Qadeer (from Queen’s) and Sandeep Kumar Agrawal (from Ryerson) were speaking about the residential patterns of seven ethnic populations in Toronto:  African Blacks, Caribbean, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, and South Asian. (These are as reported at the census tract level by individual respondents to the 2001 and 2006 censuses living in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto.)

While the maps in their PDF presentation were the most interesting, Qadeer and Agrawal also laid out a few key elements about “ethnic enclaves”:

  • Enclaves are defined as residential concentrations with supporting cultural institutions and services.
  • Enclaves are distinct from ghettos because they happen through a positive choice, rather than a lack of choice. Measuring this, however, is a challenge.
  • Enclaves are an important step for Canadian newcomers on the way to settlement and integration.

Using GIS analysis, Qadeer and Agrawal’s found that ethnic enclaves are extending (so that they are now more widespread) and consolidating (single ethnic groups were more likely to be a higher portion of a neighbourhood). This growth, they found, was often spurred by new immigration.

However, they also found a wide variation in the likelihood of people of various ethnic groups to live within their own neighbourhoods, and that no enclaves were exclusive. All city census tracts had some ethnic mix.

The study provokes further questions to explore, many which were asked that afternoon. Further research could be done to look at these trends over a wider range of years and among other Canadian geographies or at alternate geographic levels (dissemination areas instead of census tract). Also worthwhile would be a examination of the shifting residential patterns of the City’s largest ethnic group, those of British ancestry, and, and more compelling, whether there is a tipping point when “white flight” becomes a reality.

Finally, the study gave a quick look at the percentage growths among various ethnic groups; Russian and Ukrainian populations grew the most quickly. The largest groups are British, South Asian, and, then, Chinese. (For more a detailed description, see the City of Toronto’s 2006 census broad overview and the profiles of specific ethnic groups.)

The New Ethnic Enclaves, Agrawal, The Mark

Greater Toronto Urban Observatory

Growing ethnic enclaves hurt sense of Canadian “belonging

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