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Quebec is Canada’s least diverse province outside of Montreal

“If they go [outside Montreal they want to know] they're going to be accepted,” says First Vice-President of the Jamaican Association of Montreal Sharon Nelson about Quebec being the least diverse in Canada. Brittany Henriques reports. 

“There are many people from many different places that are talented and that want to give but just need to know that if they step there, they’re going to be accepted and they aren’t going to be seen like the other,” said Sharon Nelson, first vice-president for the Jamaica Association of Montreal.

Outside of Montreal, Quebec is the province with the least visible minorities in Canada according to 2021 census data published by Statistics Canada.

Experts say it has a lot to do with the divisive climate and rhetoric by Quebec leaders and their following.

“Exclusionary laws do not include certain groups of people. And that’s just archaic, if you will, to say that your language is not accepted here. Your style of dress is not accepted here. Essentially, that’s what it’s saying in a different way,” said Nelson.

Quebec has put in place laws that many views as discriminatory such as its secularism law bill 21 and its language law bill 96 – both restricting and forbidding certain minority and religious groups from things such as wearing a religious symbol as a public servant or access to education in English.

Montreal has one of the highest proportions of visible minorities – but 17 of Canada’s 20 least diverse cities are in Quebec says Statistics Canada.

“In this conversation, it is the language that seems to be this dividing barrier. And I must say that many years ago, Quebec had this campaign and still does have this campaign about going into the regions so there is this magnetism, but also non attraction, if you will, to going into the regions for people that are non-Caucasian, because there is this situation of will I be accepted in that area,” said Nelson.

“Not a we’re saying, you know, that our culture is better than yours or you must pass a values test in order to join our province. These kinds of messages, along with, you know, bills, legislation that are very clear you know, that there are certain things that one must do in order to better integrate or even assimilate to the systems and the culture of one province can really be barriers to one’s willingness and interests in joining that province,” Anne-Marie Pham, CEO for the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.

Quebec is home to the 12 Canadian cities with the lowest proportion of immigrant populations, with less than 1.9 per cent of residents foreign-born.

“I think that plays a very big role do not see or envision 20,000 Jamaicans or maybe 5000 Jamaicans living in the Beauce because of the things that we talked about earlier as well. Inclusivity accepted I have a different skin tone you know or we as a collective have a different skin tone,” said Nelson.

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