Skip to content

2021 Census: Record number of immigrants moving to Nelson

Castlegar and Trail are also seeing jumps in residents from other countries
Erin Rooney, co-ordinator of the Rural and Northern Immigration Program, is seen here with Kootenay Tamil Kitchen cooks Macton Milton Gomez (far left), Harigaranraj Ramakichenin (second from right), and owner Ciraj Premanatham. The program makes it easier for people from other countries to get permanent resident status here while meeting local job demands. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

A surge of immigrants, mostly from the United States, the United Kingdom and India, have made Nelson their home as the city welcomes record numbers of newcomers.

Nelson added 340 immigrant residents between 2016 and 2021 according to the latest census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

That five-year total is a significant rise compared to previous years. Between 1980 and 2000, only 260 immigrants moved to Nelson, and just 125 made the city their home between 2011 and 2015.

The city currently has 1,615 immigrants, or 15 per cent of the population. Of those, 975 are not currently Canadian citizens, and 405 are non-permanent residents.

The majority of immigrants, both new and historically, come from the United States and U.K.

There are 390 Americans living in Nelson, 70 of whom have immigrated to Nelson since 2016. Sixty Brits have come to Nelson since 2016, adding to the city’s total of 365.

Canada’s proportion of immigrants is 23 per cent of the population, the highest ever, and one in five people coming to country are from India. That trend is apparent in Nelson as well, with 50 people from India coming to the city since 2016.

The highest Asian population in Nelson is from the Philippines with 85 residents, of which 55 have moved to the city since 2016. South Africa represent Africa’s largest immigrant group with 35 people.

The rise in Filipino and Indian immigrants was previously hinted at in August, when census data showed jumps in residents whose mother tongue is Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines, and Punjabi.

Castlegar and Trail also experienced jumps in their immigrant populations.

Castlegar added 95 immigrants between 2016 and 2021 to the city’s total of 760. Thirty Jamaican people accounted for the highest group to move to Castlegar during that timespan.

British (175) and American (110) residents are the city’s most populous immigrant groups.

In Trail, 55 of the 100 new immigrants to make their home in the city are from India. The five-year total is a major increase from the previous census, which showed only 15 immigrants moving to Trail between 2011 and 2015.

The city’s most populous group of immigrants are from the U.K. with 145, followed by America (95), Italy (95) and India (60).

Refugee numbers are also in the census, although they don’t include people who this year have fled to Canada from the Russia-Ukraine war. Nelson and Castlegar each added 40 refugees, while Trail had 15.


There are far more non-believers in Nelson and Castlegar according to the census, but Christianity remains popular in Trail.

The data shows 7,415 Nelson residents claim to have no religion or secular perspectives. There are 2,675 Christians, of which includes 1,035 Catholics, followed by 150 Buddhists, 115 Jews, 70 Sikhs and 65 Hindus.

In Castlegar, there are 5,990 residents listed as without a religion or secular, and 3,295 Christians, 100 Sikhs, 65 Hindus and 40 Muslims.

Religion is far more popular in Trail, where about half the city’s population of 7,920 are connected to a faith. The most populous group are Christians, which include 3,455. Non-believers make up 3,865 residents.


Nelson’s international students applaud change to allowable employment hours

Nelson employers depend on foreign workers, want increased immigration

2021 Census: Home ownership on the rise in Nelson

Tagalog and Punjabi are Nelson’s fastest growing languages

Census data shows linguistic diversity on the rise in Canada

Young, childless and with money to spend: Census shows changing population of Nelson

2021 Census: Age of West Kootenay residents older than provincial, national averages

2021 Census: Nelson’s population now more than 11,000

@tyler_harper |
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
Read more