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Measuring identity, diversity and inclusion in Canada @ 150 and beyond

November 30, 2017 - December 1, 2017

Over the past fifty years, there has been significant change in the  composition of the Canadian population and, accordingly, considerable evolution in research related to identities. Statistics Canada has changed the way in which it collects information about identities in the Census, with the addition of a question on population groups/visible minorities as of 1996 and adjustments to the manner in which ethnicity, language and aboriginality are measured. Other countries have also made changes in the way they collect data on identities.

Underlying all this is an ongoing debate in society on the very meaning  of ethnicity, ancestry, race, nation and community, and parallel  debates amongst researchers and policy-makers on the comprehension and  implications of evolving identities. Static definitions have increasingly led to concepts that allow for multiple and flexible identities. Survey  questions measuring identity have similarly made way for multiple  responses and concepts, permitting the expression of intersecting identities.

Further change in the way we measure diversity seems inevitable, but the nature of the change has yet to be determined. What initial lessons can be drawn from the 2016 Census results on ethnic origins, immigration and aboriginality? Going forward, what changes, if any, are needed to group categories and sub-categories on ethnicity, visible minorities, language and aboriginality? What conceptual or methodological challenges will affect the choices made when it comes to measuring identities? Will it be possible to do effective comparisons with results from previous censuses and surveys? What will changes in identity measurement imply for identifying and addressing inequality in our society? What are the limits on big data in measuring retention and addressing the aforementioned issues? What qualitative research helps better understand identity? What do changes in the way we measure identities mean for the discourse on diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism, integration, interculturalism and social cohesion?


Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration


Hilton DoubleTree
Alymer, Québec Canada

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