People reporting Aboriginal identity

Aboriginal share of total population on the rise

  • According to the 2006 Census, 1,172,790 people identified themselves as Aboriginal, that is North American Indian,1 Métis or Inuit, or were treaty or registered Indians or members of an Indian band or First Nation. This represents 3.8% of the total population in Canada, up from 3.3% in 2001 and 2.8% in 1996.

  • Several factors may account for the growth of the Aboriginal population. These include demographic factors such as higher fertility rates and non-demographic factors such as anincreasing tendency for Aboriginal people to self-identify.

  • The largest increase in population from 1996 to 20062 occurred among the Métis. Their numbers increased 91%, to 389,785, more than three times the 29% increase in the First Nations population, whose numbers reached 698,025. The number of people who identified themselves as Inuit increased 26%, to 50,485 in 2006.

  • In 2006, First Nations people accounted for the largest share of the Aboriginal population (60%), Métis represented 33%, and 4% were Inuit.

  • According to the 2006 Census, 8 in 10 First Nations people reported that they were treaty or registered Indians as defined by the Indian Act of Canada.

  • The Aboriginal population was younger than the non-Aboriginal population in 2006, with a median age of 27, compared to 40 for the non-Aboriginal population. As more and more baby boomers retire, this younger, growing Aboriginal population will be an important source of labour force growth.

Chart O.1
Proportion of people reporting Aboriginal identity, by province and territory, 2006

Chart O.1  Proportion of people reporting Aboriginal identity, by province and territory, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population.


Notes

  1. Respondents self-identified as 'North American Indian'; however, the term 'First Nations people' is used throughout this report.
  2. Only the Indian reserves and settlements that participated in both censuses are included when comparing 1996 and 2006 data.
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