From the Archive

Growing Native population changing face of Canada
Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Canada's Aboriginal population grew by 22 percent in the last five years, the federal government reported yesterday, outpacing the rest of the nation sevenfold.

Results of the 2001 census documented the exploding growth of Native people. In 2001, nearly one million Canadians identified themselves as Indian, Inuit or Metis, according to data from Statistics Canada.

That is 22.2 percent higher than the 1996 census count. In comparison, the non-Native population grew by just 3.4 percent.

Government officials attributed the rise to several factors, including a high birth rate. Children ages 14 and under are one-third of the Native population, compared to 19 percent of the general population.

They also said there was an improved enumeration effort, although Aboriginals were undercounted in far greater numbers than any other group. The 2001 Census missed 30 reserves and communities, estimated to be about 30,000 to 35,000 people.

Overall, Natives are 3.3 percent of Canada's population, up from 2.8 percent in 1996. In the United States, in comparison, American Indians and Alaska Natives comprise less than 1 percent of the country.

But like their American neighbors, Canadian Aboriginals are increasingly urban and highly mobile. About 50 percent lived off-reserve in 2001, according to the data, and 22 percent had moved in the 12 months prior to the count, much higher than the 14 percent reported by other racial and ethnic groups.

The highest concentrations of Natives were in the North and the Plains. Nunavut, the self-governing Inuit territory created in 1999, was the highest, with an 85 percent Native population, followed by the Northwest Territories at 51 percent.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the Plains each showed a 14 percent Native population, the highest of the provinces. Alberta followed with 5 percent.

Since 1901, the Native population has increased ten times, compared to a sixfold increase for the total population.

Census Reports:
Aboriginal peoples of Canada: A demographic profile | Canada�s ethnocultural portrait: The changing mosaic

Relevant Links:
Statistics Canada - <

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