One out of every three people in the Edmonton area will be a visible minority by 2031, according to projections released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

The proportion is expected to jump to 29 per cent from 17 per cent in ’06. While the foreign-born population of Edmonton is projected to jump to 22 per cent from 19.

The projections suggest the face of Canada will change even more dramatically than it already has as immigrants from South Asia and China continue to outnumber the Europeans who settled the country.

The national figures project a radically altered population over a half century.

Across Canada, Statistics Canada is predicting 31 per cent of the population will be a visible minority in three decades — that’s more than 14.4 million people.

In 1981, there were just over one million Canadians who identified themselves as visible minorities, representing less than five per cent of the population.

Statistics Canada takes its definition of a visible minority from the federal Employment Equity Act, which is “persons, other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”

More rapid change is expected in the largest metropolitan areas, especially Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, where most newcomers tend to settle.

Jeffrey Reitz, a professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the University of Toronto, says the history of immigration shows that diversity comes to the cities first, though that may change over time. Newcomers to Canada tend to settle in larger cities not only because the sheer size means more job opportunities, but also because there are built-in communities of people with similar backgrounds.

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