French people

In Quebec, people see themselves as Canadians, French and Quebecers

Most immigrants to Quebec speak French, and the largest racialized communities are black and Arab, according to a new census report from Statistics Canada.

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Quebecers see themselves as Canadians, French and Quebecers.

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Most immigrants to Quebec speak French.

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Catholicism still dominates, but membership continues to decline.

And the most racialized communities in Quebec are black and Arab.

These are among the results released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, based on responses to the 2021 census.

Ethnicity or cultural background

What is your ethnic or cultural origin?

When Quebecers were asked this question in the 2021 Census, “Canadian”, “French” and “Quebecers” were the top responses:

  • Canadian: 29%
  • French: 21.4%
  • Quebecers: 11.2%
  • French-Canadian: 7.1%
  • Irish: 4.9%
  • Italian 3.8%
  • Scottish: 2.3%
  • English: 2.1%

Statistics Canada offered a list of more than 500 examples of ethnic and cultural origins in the 2021 census. That compares to just 28 in 2016.

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In both cases, respondents could fill in their own answers and multiple answers were allowed.

The Québécois was not among the examples offered in 2016, although some respondents wrote it down.

Now that it’s being offered as an example, the number of people opting for Quebecers has skyrocketed — 982,000 chose it in 2021, compared to just 184,000 in 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of people choosing Canadian (which was an option in 2016 and 2021) has plummeted.

Those who opted for the Canadian numbered 2.4 million in 2021, up from 4.6 million five years earlier.

Language of immigrants

A majority of immigrants to Quebec listed French as their first official language spoken.

In Quebec in 2021, among recent immigrants:

  • More than half—54.5%—had only French as their first official language spoken. That’s down from 60.5 in 2016.
  • Just over one in four (25.5%) had only English as their first official language spoken. This is a big jump from 2016 (18.4%).
  • The proportion having both English and French as their first official language spoken was 14.7%. That’s down slightly from 15.1 in 2016.
  • 5.3% had neither English nor French as their first official language spoken. This is down from 5.9% in 2016.

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Statistics Canada calculates figures for first official language from questions on knowledge of official languages, language spoken most often at home and mother tongue.

Immigration levels

Quebec and the Prairies were the only regions to show declines in the overall proportion of recent immigrants to Canada.

In 2021, Quebec welcomed 15.3% of all newcomers to Canada, compared to 17.8% in 2016.

In contrast, Ontario welcomed 44% of new immigrants, compared to 39% in 2016.

Where do immigrants settle?

Montreal had the ninth highest proportion of recent and established immigrants, at 24.3%. The top city was Toronto (46.6%).

Among recent immigrants, 12.2% settled in Montreal, second after Toronto.

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However, Montreal’s share has dropped significantly. In 2016, 14.8% of new immigrants chose the city.

Racialized groups

In Quebec, the largest racialized groups are Blacks and Arabs.

In 2021, the black population represented 5.1% of the Quebec population, while the Arab population represented 3.4%.

In Ontario, South Asian, Chinese and Black populations were the largest groups.


Quebec was the only province where more than half of the population declared themselves to be Catholic – 53.8%.

But the number has dropped dramatically over the past decade.

In 2011, three-quarters of Quebecers — 74.7% — said Catholicism was their religion.

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  1. Jack Jedwab, researcher and president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said the census shows that

    Immigration leads to increase in number of Quebecers who speak only English, according to the census

  2. A leading researcher noted that Statistics Canada's new language report focuses heavily on the island of Montreal.  In the past, the agency has recognized that focusing on the island distorts the real dynamic that prevails in the Montreal region.

    Declining proportion of Quebecers who speak French at home: StatCan

  3. Unilingual workers in metropolitan Montreal have an average annual income of $43,280, compared to $60,650 for their bilingual neighbours.

    Bilingualism pays: Canadians who speak English and French earn more — census

  4. A work of art by Sonia Haberstich in 2021 in Hudson, in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region.

    English is up in Vaudreuil-Soulanges — and down in Westmount: census

  5. Chloe Sophia sits amid empty pews during a recent mass at Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral in downtown Montreal.  Statistics Canada has reported a sharp decline in religious observance in Quebec over the years.

    Religion in Quebec: the overview

  6. Religion in Quebec: the tumultuous years

  7. Jack Jedwab, researcher and president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said the census shows that

    Immigration leads to increase in number of Quebecers who speak only English, according to the census

  8. Montreal has the ninth highest proportion of immigrants, at 24.3 percent, and ranks just behind Toronto as a destination of choice for newcomers.  But its popularity has declined since 2016, as has the proportion of all immigrants Quebec has welcomed.

    Allison Hanes: Holding up a mirror of our diversity

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