The racial and ethnic make-up of the Canadian people is diverse. About 34 per cent of the population is composed of people of British or part-British origin. People of French or part-French origin total about 27 per cent of the population. The vast majority of French-speaking Canadians reside in Quebec, where they make up about 78 per cent of the population; large numbers also live in Ontario and New Brunswick, and smaller groups inhabit the remaining provinces. French-speaking Canadians maintain their language, culture, and traditions, and the federal government follows the policy of a bilingual and bicultural nation. During the 1970s and 1980s the proportion of Asians among the Canadian population increased from 5 per cent to more than 16 per cent; more than two thirds of the Asian immigrants live in Ontario or British Columbia.
The remainder of the population is composed of people of various ethnic origins, such as German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, and the native peoples, who are officially designated the First Nations. The First Nations make up nearly 2 per cent of Canada’s population, and belong predominantly to the Algonquian linguistic group; other representative linguistic stocks are the Iroquoian, Salishan, Athabascan, and Inuit (Eskimoan). Altogether, the indigenous people of Canada are divided into nearly 600 groups, or bands.
Blacks have never constituted a major segment of the Canadian population, but their history has been an interesting one. Although Louis XIV of France in 1689 authorized the importation of slaves from the Caribbean, black immigration into Canada has been almost entirely from the United States. Some Loyalists brought slaves north with them during and after the American War of Independence (1775-1783). The British troops that burnt Washington in the War of 1812 brought many slaves back with them to Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, Nova Scotia abolished slavery in 1787 and their action was followed six years later by Upper Canada, thus setting precedents for the whole British Empire, in which slavery was finally abolished in 1833. The presence of free soil in Canada was a major influence in the operation of the Underground Railroad, which, during the abolition campaign in the United States, transported many slaves into Canada, particularly to Chatham and Sarnia in Ontario. Blacks make up less than 2 per cent of the Canadian population today. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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