South Asians have overtaken Chinese as the largest minority group in Canada, which now has well over a million members of each ethnic group. And, for the first time, minorities - people who are neither white nor aborigines - now make up a majority of the population in the City of Vancouver. While Chinese remain the largest minority group in Greater Vancouver, making up about 18 per cent of residents, the broader picture showed that South Asians have become the dominant minority group across Canada. There are 1.26 million South Asians in Canada, compared with 1.22 million ethnic Chinese. The data from the 2006 census was released by Statistics Canada. 'The [South Asian] population is growing and there are families being reunited and even more applications waiting to come through,' said Balwant Singh Gill, president of the Guru Nanak Temple in Surrey, outside Vancouver. 'This is a good thing. It's a 100-year history and took a long time to get to this level.' Of the country's 31 million residents in 2006, more than 5 million defined themselves as part of a minority. The latest figures show that the number of South Asians has increased by more than 37 per cent, from 917,100 in 2001. South Asians and Chinese each make up about 4 per cent of the national population. The Fraser Valley community of Abbotsford, about an hour east of Vancouver, has one of the country's most diverse populations. The census showed that after Toronto and Vancouver, Abbotsford has the third highest proportion of minorities and the municipality with the highest proportion of South Asians. The number of residents who identified themselves as Chinese increased 18 per cent between 2001 and 2006. In the five years since 2001, Canada's minority population shot up by 27 per cent, five times faster than the growth rate of the total population. Toronto still receives the largest share of immigrants in Canada and in the five-year period starting in 2001, four out of every 10 new arrivals to the country moved to the largest city. Of those new arrivals, 80 per cent were part of a minority. Canada accepts between 200,000 and 250,000 new residents to the country each year and the government expects immigration will account for all net growth in the labour force by 2012. In Vancouver - where 51 per cent of people are now minority members and which has by far the highest proportion of Chinese among all major metropolitan areas in Canada - almost three out of every four Chinese people were born outside the country. Of those, two out of every four were from mainland China and one from Hong Kong. The numbers were even higher in Richmond, where 44 per cent of the population was Chinese - the highest proportion of any metropolitan area in Canada. Thanks to the strong Chinese influence, two-thirds of Richmond's population is a member of a minority. The Statistics Canada figures show that nationwide, 73 per cent of ethnic Chinese were foreign-born, with 18 per cent arriving since 2001 and 45 per cent landing in Canada during the 1990s. British Columbia has the highest proportion of minorities of all provinces and territories, with nearly one in every four resident in the province belonging to a minority group. The country first began tracking the number of minorities in 1981. At that time, it estimated minorities made up less than 5 per cent of the population. By 2017, Statistics Canada predicts that one in five Canadians will be a member of a minority.