More than half of residents in Fort St. John and surrounding area hold no religious affiliation, according to new census data released today.
There were 16,590 people who said they either had no connection to any religion or held other secular views, such as being either an atheist, agnostic, or humanist, according to the 2021 census.
That's 58.4% of the local population in the Fort St. John metropolitan area, which includes Charlie Lake and Taylor.
By comparison, 10,435 people identified as Christian, or 36.7% of the population, with more than a quarter of them, 2,900 people, identifying as a Catholic.
Though 3,865 Christians reported in the census did not specify a denomination, among the largest other denominations reported in the area were Anglican (575), Pentecostal (495), and the United Church (425).
There were 680 people who reported following other unspecified Christian and Christian-related traditions.
Meanwhile, there were 490 Sikhs, 290 Hindus, and 260 Muslims reported in the census, as well as 55 Buddhists.
There were 60 people who reported holding traditional North American Indigenous spiritual beliefs, while 230 reported other unspecified religions and spiritual tradition.
Statistics Canada said this year's census release presents the most comprehensive portrait of Canadians' religious affiliations to date, as the census linked to a list of 200 example denominations for people to look at before writing in their religion, which encouraged people to be more specific.
Those who are affiliated with a given religion aren't necessarily practising members of that faith, Statistics Canada noted.
Religion in Fort St. John
• No religion and secular perspectives - 16,590
• Christian - 10,435
- Not specified - 3,865
- Catholic - 2,900
- Anglican - 575
- Pentecostal/other Charismatic - 495
- United Church - 425
- Baptist - 335
- Lutheran - 280
- Jehovah’s Witness - 250
- Anabaptist - 235
- Latter Day Saints - 130
- Presbyterian - 115
- Christian Orthodox - 75
- Methodist and Wesleyan - 45
- Reformed - 15
- Other Christian and Christian-related traditions - 680
• Other religion
- Sikh - 490
- Hindu - 290
- Muslim - 260
- Buddhist - 55
- Jewish - 25
- Traditional (North American Indigenous) spirituality - 60
- Other religions and spiritual traditions - 230
Across the country, more than a third of Canadians reported no religious affiliation in the census.
The proportion of non-religious Canadians has more than doubled in the past 20 years — to 34.6%, up from 16.5% in 2001 — and the share of the country who identify as Christian has shrunk.
They made up 53.3% of the population in 2021, down from 67.3% in 2011 and 77.1% in 2001.
In the census, some 11,390 people described themselves as humanists, a philosophy centred around human dignity.
Even as the share of non-religious people is increasing, some non-Christian religions are growing, driven largely by immigration.
Islam is the second most commonly reported religion in Canada in 2021, with nearly five per cent of the population identifying as Muslim. That's more than doubled since 2001, when the share was only two per cent.
Meanwhile, 2.3% of the population now identifies as Hindu, compared to one per cent in 2001.
The Pagan umbrella, which also includes 12,625 Wiccans, now encompasses 45,325 people.
— with files from The Canadian Press