Those alarmed by the growing ethnic enclaves in Canada’s big cities should take comfort in a new study by a national think tank.The report by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found neighbourhoods with a dominant ethnic population are actually places of cultural diversity rather than cultural isolation.
In fact, the average number of cultural backgrounds represented, even in enclaves, is close to 15, the study found.And surprisingly, it also found that members of visible minorities who live in modern-day enclaves in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are less likely to experience poverty than their counterparts who live outside them.
Annie Tsu, president of Tour East Holidays, says the travel agency catered to a predominantly Chinese clientele when it opened in Chinatown in 1976. Today, it has seven branches in the GTA, mainly in areas with a large Chinese population, but its clients now come from all ethnic backgrounds.
“The accelerated development of enclaves in Canadian metropolitan areas does not pose a threat but should instead be seen as an opportunity and a challenge,” said the study to be released by the Montreal-based think tank on Wednesday.“Any assumption that enclaves are monocultural is decidedly incorrect. We see that in Montreal, enclaves are more diverse than other parts of the city, and in Toronto they are just as diverse as other parts of that city. Even in Vancouver, enclaves tend to be highly diverse social settings.”