The DiversityCanada Foundation is a non-partisan not-for-profit founded by former journalist and inspirational writer Celia Sankar who holds the volunteer position of Executive Director.
The organization was born in 2004 following two cross-Canada tours made by Sankar in which she was able to learn of the dreams and hopes of thousands of Canadians of diverse backgrounds. The challenges they faced spurred her to work towards ensuring that all persons, regardless of background, have a fair and equal opportunity to participate fully in the economic, cultural and social life of Canada and beyond.
Since inception, the DiversityCanada Foundation has delivered programs and resources to hundreds of thousands of Canadians of all ages and backgrounds from coast to coast, while remaining a lean and agile operation run primarily on volunteer support. The organisation has established strong partnerships with public sector organizations, the private sector, the academic community, other non governmental organisations, and a host of like-minded individuals all contributing to ensure diversity acts as a positive force in the development of Canada and elsewhere.
The mandate of the DiversityCanada Foundation is to create, facilitate and promote opportunities for multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, differently-abled and diverse groups and individuals to participate in the economic, social, and cultural life of Canada and elsewhere.
Why We Were Formed
The DiversityCanada Foundation was established in 2004 to respond to demographic shifts that were recognized as being set to have a profound impact on Canada's economic, social and cultural life.
Canada is one of the most pluralistic countries in the world. And with the latest wave of immigration over the last few decades, Canada's demographics have been changing significantly.
According to Statistics Canada's 2002 survey, almost one quarter (23%) of Canada's population aged 15 and over, or 5.3 million people, were first generation, that is, they were born outside Canada. Not since 1931 had the proportion of people born outside the country been this high.
Nearly half (46%) of the first generation in Canada, or 2.4 million people, had only non-European ethnic ancestry in 2002, while about one third (31%) had only European ancestry (other than British or French). Another 13% reported only British, French and/or Canadian origins and 10% reported other origins, Statistics Canada revealed.
Meanwhile, the Aboriginal people's share of Canada's total population was acknowledged to be on the rise. Just over 1.3 million people reported having at least some Aboriginal ancestry in 2001, representing 4.4 % of the total population. In 1996, people with Aboriginal ancestry represented 3.8 % of the total population.
These and other demographic trends were seen as being set to play a major role in the future development of Canada.
During the past decade, three key factors have shaped the nation's workforce: A demand for skills in the face of advancing technologies and the "knowledge-based economy"; a working-age population that is increasingly made up of older people; and a growing reliance on immigration as a source of skills and labour force growth.
The demand for skills had been clearly evident in data from the 2001 Census. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of people in the labour force increased by 1.3 million. Almost half of this growth occurred in highly skilled occupations that normally require university qualifications, while low skilled occupations requiring high school or less accounted for only a quarter of the increase.
At the same time, the workforce had become much "greyer". The average age of the labour force rose from 37.1 years in 1991 to 39.0 years in 2001. By the end of the decade, 15% of the labour force was within 10 years of retirement age. By 2011, almost one fifth of the baby-boom generation was at least 61 years of age. This means a significant part of the population will be entering into a phase in which they will need to define a new role for themselves and find ways to continue to participate in society.
In addition, rates of fertility remained at low levels for the past 30 years. As a result, fewer young people are entering the working-age population to replace individuals in the age group nearing retirement. In 2001, there were 2.7 persons in the 20-to-34 age group in the labour force for every participant aged 55 and over, down from a ratio of 3.7 in 1981.
Canada has increasingly turned to immigration as a source of skills and knowledge. Census data showed that immigrants who landed in Canada during the 1990s, and who were in the labour force in 2001, represented almost 70% of the total growth of the labour force over the decade. If current immigration rates continue, it is possible that immigration could account for virtually all labour force growth in the years to come.
These significant demographic changes bring major implications for the social, cultural and economic life of Canada. Among the issues raised as a result of the changes are those of inclusion, respect for diversity, and harmony. The DiversityCanada Foundation was formed in order to play a pivotal role in ensuring such issues are addressed and are managed in a way that they contribute to Canada's continued development.