Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ethnic Intermarriage in Canada (1)

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ethnic Intermarriage in Canada (1)

Article excerpt


Since the late nineteenth century the rate of ethnic intermarriage has been increasing in Canada. This paper analyzes current levels of ethnic intermarriage in Canada during the 1990s in relation to the historical trends reported in earlier analyses. Differences between husbands and wives and the native-born and foreign-born are examined for Canada as a whole using data from the 1996 Census. Intermarriage data are also presented for husbands and wives residing in five Prairie major CMAs as well as for Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Overall, husbands tend to marry exogamously to a slightly greater extent than wives, the native-born tend to exhibit higher rates of ethnic exogamy than their foreign-born counterparts, and the Prairie CMAs have higher rates of ethnic endogamy compared to Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Depuis la fin du dix-neuvieme siecle, le taux de marriage entre divers groupes ethniques au Canada a toujours augmente. Le present article fait l'analyse des niveaux courants d'intermarriage ethnique au Canada pendant les annees 1990s, quant a les tendances historiques rapportes ailleurs. Les differences entre les maris et les epouses, et entre les Canadiens de naissance et ceux qui sont de provenance etrangere, sont examinees en somme, en utilisant les donnees du Recensement de 1996. Les donnees pour l'intermarriage ethnique sont aussi presentees pour les maris et les epouses qui habite a cinq villes majeurs (CMAs) des Prairies, et aussi pour Toronto, Montreal, et Vancouver. En general, les maris se dirigent vers le marriage exogame un peu plus que les epouses, les Canadiens de naissance montre des taux d'exogame ethnique plus eleves que leurs contre-parties de provenance etrangere, et les villes majeurs (CMAs) des Prairies ont des taux plus eleves de l'endogame ethnique en comparaison de Toronto, Montreal, et Vancouver.


By definition, intermarriage means the crossing of some well-defined line such as ethnic origin or religion in mate selection. Thus, ethnic intermarriage (ethnic exogamy) occurs when an individual marries a spouse of an ethnic origin different from his or her own. On the other hand, ethnic endogamy (ethnic intramarriage) occurs when an individual marries someone of the same ethnic origin as him- or herself. In a multicultural society such as Canada, minority persons who marry within their own minority ethnic or cultural origin group are said to be more ethnically-connected than individuals who marry exogamously. They are considered to be relatively more assimilated than those who retain their original ethnic ties through marriage.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze current levels of ethnic intermarriage in Canada during the 1990s in relation to the historical trends of ethnic intermarriage reported in an earlier analysis by Kalbach (2000). Variations in intermarriage patterns for both native-born and foreign-born husbands and wives will be examined for a selected number of ethnic origin groups, e.g., English, Irish, Scottish, French, Ukrainian, German, Greek, Italian, Chinese, East Indian, West Asian/Arab, and Black/Caribbean ethnic origins at the time of the 1996 Census. This paper also examines the overall pattern of ethnic intermarriage regardless of ethnic origin for husbands and wives living in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver and the five Prairie CMAs, i.e., Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg.

Intermarriage and Assimilation

Certain behaviours are commonly considered indicators of assimilation. In a predominantly English-speaking society like Canada, for example, an immigrant who can speak English is considered more assimilated or acculturated than one who cannot. Similarly, a relatively higher degree of assimilation is attributed to an immigrant who marries a spouse of a different ethnic or cultural origin than to one who remains ethnically-connected through marriage to his/her own group. …

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