Aboriginal Demography – Population, Household and Family Projections, 2001-2026

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Table of Contents




I. Introduction

Understanding future trends of the Aboriginal population through demographic projections is a powerful planning tool and one of the most frequently requested pieces of information by all levels of government and non-government organizations. Indeed, the Aboriginal population has experienced considerable growth over the past several decades. Compared to the Canadian population, the age structure of the Aboriginal population is also quite youthful with half of the Aboriginal population aged less than 25 years. Rapid Aboriginal population growth and the corresponding youthful age structure are demographic trends that are expected well into the future. These realities in Aboriginal demographics can have significant implications on various Aboriginal programs and policies and are becoming increasingly important in the context of future labour supply shortages in Canada due to the aging of the general Canadian population.

To this end, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (AANDC) has recently developed a series of Aboriginal population, household and family projections. This booklet summarizes the major findings of these projections. These projections are specific to four Aboriginal groups as identified on the 2001 Census of Population: Registered Indians, Métis, Non-Status Indian and Inuit and span twenty-five years from 2001 to 2026. [Note 1]






II. Background

In the past, AANDC has only produced projections specific to Registered Indians based on population definitions and data counts associated with the Indian Register. While these projections continue to be fundamental and important to AANDC, they do not cover the other Aboriginal groups mainly due to conceptual differences in underlying data definitions and projection assumptions. Providing demographic projections for all Aboriginal groups are especially relevant in the context of an expanding AAND Cmandate on Aboriginal issues.

To accommodate the increasing demand for comparable projections across all Aboriginal groups, AANDC has produced two different series of projections. The first series is the Registered Indian Projections of Population, Households and Families, 2004-2029. These projections were developed specifically for the Registered Indian population as defined by the Indian Act and are based on adjusted counts (for late reporting of births and deaths) from the Indian Register as of December 31, 2004. Demographic projections based on Indian Register data, updated periodically over the years, have consistently been used by AANDC to support its policy development and program planning activities with respect to the Registered Indian population.

The second series of population projections, and the focus of the results presented in this booklet, are specific to Aboriginal groups based on Aboriginal identity according to the 2001 Census of Population: Registered Indian, Métis, Inuit and Non-Status Indian. The baseline 2001 Census data for these projections have been adjusted to take into consideration survey errors such as non-enumeration of Indian Reserves and survey undercoverage.

It is very important to reiterate that the two series of population projections are very different conceptually and use two very different sources of data. For this reason, the two different sets of projections cannot be used interchangeably. Some general information and guidelines regarding the differences between the two series of projections are provided in Appendix A.






III. Aboriginal Projections Methodology: Baseline Population, Projection Model And Growth Components

Baseline Population

The Aboriginal projections are based on data from individuals who self-identified as an Aboriginal person and/or who identified as being registered under the Indian Act in the 2001 Census of Population. The 2001 Census estimated the Aboriginal population to be about 976,300. However, due to survey errors such as non-enumeration and survey undercoverage, this population figure under-represents the actual population. Accordingly, adjustments were made to the 2001 Census baseline data for the Aboriginal population. [Note 2] Further adjustments were also required in order to assign individuals into the following four discrete Aboriginal populations:

  • Registered Indians (regardless of Aboriginal identity)
  • Non-Status Indian
  • Métis
  • Inuit

For the purposes of these projections, the assignment of the Aboriginal population into four discrete groups adhered to three main principles:

  1. Individuals who reported Indian Registration were assigned to the Registered Indian group irrespective of any other reported Aboriginal identity. For example if an individual reported that they were a Registered Indian and also identified with the Inuit population group, the individual was assigned to the Registered Indian population;
  2. Aboriginal individuals who were not registered and reported a single Aboriginal identity were assigned to that corresponding population, and;
  3. Aboriginal individuals who were not registered and reported more than one Aboriginal identity (multiple identities) were assigned to an Aboriginal population based on an analysis of the relative size of each Aboriginal population in the multiple identity response.

The main effect of this process is the transfer of individuals who reported Métis, Inuit or North American Indian identity as well as registration under the Indian Act, into the baseline count for the Registered Indian population. The resulting adjusted baseline counts for the individual Aboriginal populations groups are as follows: 633,600 Registered Indians; 274,200 Métis; 110,300 Non-Status Indians; and 46,200 Inuit for a total adjusted Aboriginal population of 1,064,300 in 2001.

Aboriginal Projections: Projection Model And Growth Components

The projection model is based on the cohort component method (by age and gender) to forecast future growth of the Aboriginal populations over 25 years, from 2001 to 2026. The projections of the Aboriginal populations were undertaken concurrently and included basic components of growth such as fertility, mortality and migration. As well, the model included components of growth that are specific to the Aboriginal population, such as, status entitlement under the Indian Act and parenting patterns which define how Aboriginal identity is transferred to or inherited by descendant children.

The projections highlighted in this booklet are based on assumptions developed under the “Medium Growth Scenario”. This scenario is most consistent with recent trends for the Aboriginal population and is summarized as follows:

  • Moderate decline in fertility
  • Moderate decline in the volume of migration at a pace observed for the decade of the 1990’s. [Note 3]
  • Gradual improvement in average life expectancy at birth, except for the Inuit (life expectancy for the Inuit is assumed to remain constant).
  • Parenting patterns and distribution of transfer of Aboriginal identity to children remain at their current levels. [Note 4]
  • Declining rate of reinstatement of status under provisions in the Indian Act as amended in 1985.





IV. Aboriginal Projection Results

Population Growth

Significant population growth is expected to occur among all Aboriginal populations (Figure 1). With 1,064,300 as the baseline population, the total Aboriginal population is projected to increase to 1,566,900 by 2026 (47%). Depending on the scenario, the projected population size could be as low as 1,489,500 (40%) or as high as 1,597,800 (50%).

Across the Aboriginal population, growth during the 2001-2026 period is expected to occur most rapidly among Non-Status Indians (77%) followed by the Inuit (62%), the Registered Aboriginal population (45%) and the Métis (37%).

Figure 1: Projected Aboriginal Population Size, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 1: Aboriginal Population Size, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

As shown in Table 1, the Aboriginal population is growing almost twice as fast as the Canadian population and this trend is expected to continue over the next two decades. However, due to the assumption of moderate decline in fertility levels, average annual rates of growth are expected to slow down over the period from 1.8% at the onset to 1.2% at the end of the period, but still remaining well above that of the Canadian population.

Table 1: Average Annual Growth Rates of the Aboriginal and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Population Average Annual Growth Rate
2001-2006 2006-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2026
Total Aboriginal 1.8% 1.7% 1.6% 1.4% 1.2%
Canadian Population* 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7%
*Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB and 91-520-SCB.

According to Figure 2, in 2001 two out of three (67%) Aboriginal people lived off reserve with 48% in urban areas and 19% in rural areas. Over the next 25 years, the Aboriginal population growth is expected to occur most rapidly on reserve [Note 5] and in urban areas. The Aboriginal population residing on reserve is expected to increase by 69% and could reach about 596,000 in 2026. The urban Aboriginal population is expected to rise to about 724,100 from 509,700 (42%) and the population living in rural areas is projected to increase to 246,800 from 202,600 (22%).

Figure 2: Projected Aboriginal Population, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 2: Aboriginal Population, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

There are significant regional differences in terms of fertility, mortality and net migration patterns. These differences result in large variations in the projected growth of regional populations during the period. As indicated in Figure 3, significant growth is expected in all regions especially in the Prairie region. Growth exceeding the national figure (47%) is also expected in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Growth is expected to occur more slowly in British Columbia (29%).

Figure 3: Projected Overall Aboriginal Population Growth by Region, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Figure 3: Projected Overall Aboriginal Population Growth by Region, By Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Age Structure

In 2001, the Aboriginal population in Canada was very youthful where children and youth (population less than 25 years) comprised a large proportion of the population. Figure 4 shows that in 2001 about 51% of the Aboriginal population was aged less than 25 years. The median age for the Aboriginal population was estimated to be 25 years compared to 37 for Canadians. [Note 6] In contrast to the Canadian population, the Aboriginal population will continue to be quite youthful well into the future. However, due to declining fertility and moderate improvements in life expectancy, the age structure of the Aboriginal population is expected to show signs of aging. By 2026 the proportion of children and youth is expected to decrease to 41%. Conversely, from 2001 to 2026 the proportion of the Aboriginal population aged 40 or more will increase from 26% to 37%.

Figure 4: Age-Gender Pyramid for Aboriginal and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Figure 4: Age-Gender Pyramid for Aboriginal and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Household And Family Projected Growth

Based on the 2001 Census, the total number of Aboriginal households was estimated to be 404,300. [Note 7] Results for the projections suggest that Aboriginal households could increase to 692,100 (71%) by the year 2026 (Figure 5).

Aboriginal household growth on reserves is expected to occur much more rapidly from 97,400 in 2001 to 198,600 in 2026 (104%). Aboriginal households in urban areas are also expected to grow significantly throughout the projection period by 68% compared to rural household growth which is expected to grow by 42%. Slower growth in rural areas is expected due to the expected continuation of net outflows of Aboriginal migrants from rural areas throughout the projection period.

Although Aboriginal household growth is projected to occur more rapidly on reserve, more then half of the Aboriginal total household growth (53%) can be attributed to expected growth off reserve in urban areas.

Figure 5: Projected Number of Aboriginal Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 5: Projected Number of Aboriginal Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

According to Table 2 the number of Aboriginal families on reserve is expected to more than double by 2026 (114%). Off-reserve, Aboriginal family growth is expected to occur more rapidly in urban areas (79%) compared to rural areas (49%).

Table 2: Projected Number of Aboriginal Families, Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Aboriginal Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural (Off Reserve) Urban (Off Reserve)
2001 337.7 89.7 69.7 178.3
2006 390.6 107.9 76.3 206.4
2011 444.3 126.8 82.4 235.1
2016 498.0 146.6 88.9 262.6
2021 556.6 168.9 96.6 291.1
2026 615.1 192.3 104.0 318.7

Consistent with projected growth patterns for Aboriginal families, Table 3 shows that the overall growth in the number of Aboriginal lone parent families for the projection period is expected to be most rapid on reserve (115%) followed by growth in urban areas (72%) and in rural areas (43%). Of the total Aboriginal lone parent families, about 87% are estimated to be headed by a female and this percentage is expected to decrease slightly to about 85% in 2026.

Table 3: Projected Number of Aboriginal Lone Parent Families, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Aboriginal Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural (Off Reserve) Urban (Off Reserve)
2001 88.8 30.9 15.5 42.3
2006 102.2 37.2 16.7 48.4
2011 116.1 43.9 17.7 54.5
2016 129.9 50.6 18.8 60.4
2021 145.3 58.2 20.5 66.6
2026 161.6 66.5 22.3 72.8






V. Inuit Projection Results

Population Growth

The Inuit identity population in Canada has the smallest population of all Aboriginal groups. After adjustments for non-enumeration and survey undercoverage, it is estimated that the Inuit population was about 46,200 in 2001. [Note 8] The Inuit population is expected to grow to about 74,800 (62%) by 2026. Depending on the scenario, the projected size in population could be as low as 70,100 (52%) or as high as 76,700 (66%).

The majority of Inuit, about 74%, live in rural areas. The remainder, 26%, live in urban areas (see Figure 6). [Note 9] Overall population growth between 2001 and 2026 is expected to be 55% in urban areas compared to 64% in rural areas.

Figure 6: Projected Inuit population by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 6: Projected Inuit population by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

As indicated in Table 4, annual average growth rates for the Inuit population are expected to decline over the course of the projection period. However, due to high fertility rates, the Inuit population will continue to grow at a pace faster then the total Aboriginal and the Canadian rates. [Note 10] Much of the decline in the rate of population growth is due to declining Inuit fertility rates but it is expected that Inuit fertility rates will remain well above fertility levels of the general population for several years. In 2001, the Inuit fertility rate is estimated at 3.4 children per woman compared to 1.5 children per woman for the general Canadian population.

Table 4: Average Annual Growth Rates of the Inuit, Aboriginal and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Population Average Annual Growth Rate
2001-2006 2006-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2026
Total Aboriginal 1.8% 1.7% 1.6% 1.4% 1.2%
Total Inuit 2.1% 2.1% 2.0% 1.8% 1.6%
Canadian Population* 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7%
*Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB and 91-520-SCB.

According to Table 5, Nunavut has the highest concentration of Inuit population in the country. In 2001, it is estimated that about 51% of the Inuit population lived in Nunavut, followed by Quebec at 21%, Atlantic Region at 11% and the Northwest Territories at 9%. [Note 11] By 2026, Nunavut is expected to have about 54% of the Inuit population in Canada.

Table 5: Projected Inuit Population Growth by Gender, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2001 and 2026

Region Year 2001 (000’s) Year 2026 (000’s)
Male Female Total Male Female Total
B.C. 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.4 0.5 0.9
Alberta 0.5 0.5 1.0 0.7 0.8 1.5
Saskatchewan 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3
Manitoba 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.5
Ontario 0.6 0.7 1.3 1.0 1.0 2.0
Quebec 5.0 4.7 9.7 8.0 8.1 16.1
Atlantic Reg. 2.7 2.6 5.2 3.4 3.5 6.9
Yukon - - 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.3
N.W.T. 2.0 2.1 4.1 2.8 3.3 6.1
Nunavut 12.1 11.5 23.6 20.1 20.0 40.1
Canada 23.5 22.7 46.2 36.9 37.9 74.8
"—" are counts that are below the threshold of 100.

Age Structure

Like other Aboriginal populations, the Inuit population is very young compared to the general Canadian Population with a median age of 20.1 years in 2001 compared to 37.2 years for the general Canadian population. The Inuit population has the youngest age structure among all Aboriginal populations in Canada. In 2001, it is estimated that about 58% of the Inuit population was less than 25 years of age compared to 47% for the Métis, 52% Non-Status Indian and 33% for Canadians.

While it is expected that there will be some aging of the population, the Inuit population is expected to remain extremely youthful well into the future with a projected median age of 25.3 years in 2026.

Figure 7: Age-Gender Pyramid for Inuit and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Figure 7: Age-Gender Pyramid for Inuit and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Households and Families

Consistent with high population growth and high fertility rates, the number of Inuit households is expected to almost double (93%) from 11,200 in 2001 to 21,600 in 2026 (Figure 8). Much of this increase (73%) is associated with growth in the number of rural Inuit households.

Figure 8: Projected Number of Inuit Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 8: Projected Number of Inuit Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

The number of Inuit families is also expected to more then double from 11, 500 in 2001 to 24,100 in 2026 (109%). Rapid growth is expected for Inuit families living both in rural and urban areas, but most of the growth (73%) is associated with growth in the number of Inuit families living in rural locations.

Table 6: Projected Number of Inuit Families by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Inuit Population (000's)
Year All Locations Rural Urban
2001 11.5 8.1 3.4
2006 13.8 9.7 4.1
2011 16.1 11.4 4.8
2016 18.6 13.2 5.4
2021 21.3 15.2 6.2
2026 24.1 17.2 6.9

The number of lone parent Inuit families is expected to increase from 3,400 in 2001 to 6,800 by 2026 with most of the growth (77%) associated with increases in lone parent Inuit families living in rural areas. Of the total Inuit lone parent families, about 85% are estimated to be headed by a female in 2001 and this percentage is expected to decrease slightly to 83% in 2026.

Table 7: Projected Number of Inuit Lone Parent Families, Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Inuit Population (000's)
Year All Locations Rural (Including Reserves) Urban (Off Reserve)
2001 3.4 2.5 0.9
2006 4.0 3.0 1.0
2011 4.6 3.5 1.2
2016 5.3 4.0 1.3
2021 6.0 4.6 1.5
2026 6.8 5.2 1.6






VI. Métis Projection Results

Population Growth

The Métis population is the largest non-registered Aboriginal group in Canada. After adjustments it is estimated that the Métis population was 274,200 in 2001. [Note 12]

Significant levels of growth are expected to occur among the Métis population over the next two decades from 274,200 to 376,500 in 2026 (37%). Depending on the scenario, the projected population size could be as low as 359,500 (31%) or as high as 383,400 (40%).

Two thirds of the Métis population live in urban areas (Figure 9). The urban Métis population is expected to increase by 40% from 185,100 in 2001 to 259,900 in 2026. In 2001, it is estimated that 82,100 Métis lived in rural areas and 7,000 lived on reserves. The Métis population residing in rural areas and living on reserves is expected to increase by 31% from 89,100 in 2001 to 116,600 by 2026.

Figure 9: Projected Métis Population, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 9: Métis Population, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

As shown in Table 8, the Métis population is currently growing at an average rate of 1.4 percent annually. While annual growth rates for the Métis population are expected to slow down over the next two decades, significant growth is still expected well into the future. Like other Aboriginal groups, major drivers of Métis population growth are high fertility rates and improvements in life expectancy. While Métis fertility is expected to decline in the future, it will likely remain above fertility levels for the general population for several years. In 2001, the Métis fertility rate was estimated at 2.1 children per woman compared to 1.5 children per woman for the Canadian population.

Table 8: Average Annual Growth Rates of the Aboriginal, Métis and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Population Average Annual Growth Rate
2001-2006 2006-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2026
Total Aboriginal 1.8% 1.7% 1.6% 1.4% 1.2%
Total Métis 1.4% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2% 1.0%
Canadian Population* 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7%
*Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB and 91-520-SCB.

While fertility can explain a great deal of Métis population growth, a good portion of past population growth can also be attributed to changes in self-reporting of ethnic identity over time. This phenomenon is known as “ethnic mobility”. In particular, for the Métis and Non-Status Indian population living off reserve, “between 1986 and 1996 part of the increase in the percentage of Aboriginals living in urban areas was due to changes in self-identification by city dwellers, from non-Aboriginal to Aboriginal”. [Note 13] However, further analysis and research is required before estimates of ethnic mobility can be incorporated into the population projection model. As a consequence, until ethnic mobility and its impacts on population growth are better understood, it will continue to be another dimension of uncertainty with respect to future population levels among the Aboriginal population. [Note 14]

According to Table 9, the largest concentration of the Métis population resides in the Prairie region representing 58% of the total Métis population. Alberta has the highest proportion (23%) of Métis population in Canada. By 2026, the concentration of the Métis population in the Prairie region is expected to rise to 64%.

Table 9: Projected Métis Population Size by Gender and by Region, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Region Year 2001 (000’s) Year 2026 (000’s)
Male Female Total Male Female Total
B.C. 21.1 20.6 41.7 23.3 24.1 47.4
Alberta 31.4 31.6 63.0 49.3 50.7 100.0
Saskatchewan 21.2 21.4 42.5 30.7 31.2 61.9
Manitoba 27.6 26.8 54.5 38.5 38.8 77.3
Ontario 22.6 21.5 44.0 26.8 26.9 53.7
Quebec 6.5 5.6 12.1 7.3 6.9 14.2
Atlantic Reg. 6.7 5.9 12.6 7.9 7.6 15.4
Yukon 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.7
N.W.T. 1.7 1.5 3.3 3.0 2.8 5.8
Nunavut - - - - - -
Canada 139.0 135.2 274.2 187.2 189.3 376.5
"—" are counts that are below the threshold of 100.

Age Structure

The Métis population is young compared to the Canadian population with 47% of the Métis population less than 25 years of age compared to 33% for the Canadian population in 2001. [Note 15] However, the Métis population has an older age structure compared to other non-registered Aboriginal populations in Canada. The median age of the Métis in 2001 is estimated to be 26.8 years compared to 20.1 years for the Inuit, 23.8 years for the Non-Status Indian and 37.2 years for the Canadian population. [Note 16]

As shown in Figure 10 significant increases are expected in the older age cohorts. The percentage of Métis older than 65 years is projected to increase from 4% in 2001 to 13% in 2026.

Figure 10: Age-Gender Pyramid for Métis and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Figure 10: Age-Gender Pyramid for Métis and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Households and Families

The number of Métis households is expected to grow from 119,800 in 2001 to 191,400 by 2026 (Figure 11). By 2026, Métis households in urban areas are expected to increase by 65% whereas in rural areas Métis households are expected to increase by 50%. Most of the projected growth in Métis households (73%) is associated with growth in urban areas.

Figure 11: Projected Number of Métis Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 11: Projected Number of Métis Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

The number of projected Métis families is expected to grow from 97,200 families in 2001 to 164,200 by 2026 (Table 10). The majority (73%) of the growth in the number of families is associated with growth of Métis families living in urban areas.

Table 10: Projected Number of Métis Families, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Métis Families (000's)
Year All Locations Rural (Including Reserves) Urban
2001 97.2 31.5 65.8
2006 110.7 35.1 75.5
2011 124.0 38.4 85.6
2016 137.4 41.9 95.5
2021 151.3 45.7 105.6
2026 164.2 49.3 114.9

The number of Métis lone parent families is expected to increase by 63% from 18,900 in 2001 to 30,800 in 2026 (Table 11). The number of Métis lone parent families living in urban areas is expected to increase by 66% compared to 56% for Métis lone parent families living in rural areas. Of the total Métis lone parent families, 87% are estimated to be headed by a female in 2001 and this percentage is expected to decrease slightly to 85% in 2026.

Table 11: Projected Number of Métis Lone Parent Families, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Métis Lone Parent Families (000's)
Year All Locations Rural (Including Reserves) Urban
2001 18.9 6.1 12.8
2006 21.1 6.7 14.4
2011 23.3 7.3 16.1
2016 25.6 7.9 17.7
2021 28.2 8.7 19.6
2026 30.8 9.5 21.3






VII: Non-Status Indian Projection Results

Population Growth

After adjustments, it is estimated that the non-registered Non-Status Indian population was about 110,300 in 2001. [Note 17] Across Aboriginal populations, growth during the 2001-2026 periods is expected to occur most rapidly among this population to reach about 195,600 individuals (77%). Depending on the scenario, the projected size of the population could be as low as 182,400 (65%) or as high as 200,800 (82%).

In 2001, almost three quarters of the Non-Status Indian population lived in urban areas and is expected to grow by 71% over the course of the projection period (Figure 12). In rural areas (not including reserves), the population is expected to increase by 57%. However, while the Non-Status Indian population living on reserves is relatively small, this population is expected to grow significantly (about 4 times in size) from 4,600 in 2001 to 18,600 in 2026. This is mainly due to the expected significant number of additions to the population associated with non-entitled descendants of Registered Indians. In 1985 changes were made to the Indian Act, which set out new provisions under which children born after April 16, 1985 received entitlement to Indian Registration (Section 6 of the Indian Act). As a result of these changes, parenting patterns (between individuals who are registered and individuals who are not registered) are a key determinant in whether or not descendants qualify for Indian registration.

Figure 12: Projected Non-Status Indian Population, by Place of Location, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 12: Non-Status Indian Population, by Place of Location, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

In contrast to other Aboriginal populations, Table 12 shows that average annual growth rates of the Non-Status Indian population are projected to increase over the course of the initial decade of the projection period (from 2.2 to 2.5%) due to the number of additions to the population associated with non-entitled descendants of Registered Indians. Due to declining rates of fertility however, by the end of the period the average growth rate for this population is expected to return to levels observed at the beginning of the projection period while remaining well above (three times) the overall Canadian rate of 0.7%. Non-Status Indian fertility rates in 2001 are estimated to be 1.9 children per woman. On reserve, where a small portion of Non-Status Indians reside, the fertility rates are estimated to be much higher at 3.3 children per woman.

Table 12: Average Annual Growth Rates for the Aboriginal, Non-Status Indian and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Population Average Annual Growth Rate
2001-2006 2006-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2026
Total Aboriginal 1.8% 1.7% 1.6% 1.4% 1.2%
Non-Status Indians 2.2% 2.5% 2.5% 2.3% 2.1%
Canadian Population* 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7%
*Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB and 91-520-SCB.

While fertility and loss of entitlement to registration status can explain a great deal of the growth in the Non-Status Indian population, a good portion of past population growth can also be attributed to changes in self-reporting of ethnic identity over time. This phenomenon is known as “ethnic mobility”. In particular, for the Métis and Non-Status Indian population living off reserve, “between 1986 and 1996 part of the increase in the percentage of Aboriginals living in urban areas was due to changes in self-identification by city dwellers, from non-Aboriginal to Aboriginal”. [Note 18] However, further analysis and research is required before estimates on the scale of ethnic mobility can be incorporated into the population projection model. As a consequence, until ethnic mobility and its impacts to population growth are better understood, it will continue to be another dimension of uncertainty with respect to future population levels among the Aboriginal population. [Note 19]

Table 13 shows that the Non-Status Indian population is expected to grow significantly over the projection period in the Prairie and Northern regions. In the Prairies, the projections indicate that the Non-Status Indian population is projected to grow by 159% in Manitoba, 118% in Saskatchewan and 153% in Alberta over the 2001-2026 time period.

Table 13: Projected Non-Status Indian Population Growth by Gender and by Region, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, Provinces, Territories, 2001 and 2026

Region Year 2001 (000’s) Year 2026 (000’s)
Male Female Total Male Female Total
B.C. 13.1 13.6 26.7 19.5 20.0 39.5
Alberta 6.9 6.4 13.3 17.1 16.5 33.7
Saskatchewan 2.3 2.4 4.7 5.1 5.1 10.2
Manitoba 3.2 3.4 6.6 8.6 8.6 17.2
Ontario 19.0 19.4 38.4 31.7 32.1 63.8
Quebec 4.1 4.6 8.7 5.5 6.0 11.5
Atlantic Reg. 5.2 5.4 10.5 7.8 8.3 16.1
Yukon 0.4 0.5 0.9 0.8 0.9 1.7
N.W.T. 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.9 0.9 1.9
Nunavut - - - - - -
Canada 54.5 55.8 110.3 97.2 98.4 195.6
"—" are counts that are below the threshold of 100.

Age Structure

In contrast to other Aboriginal groups, children and youth are projected to form a growing share of the Non-status Indian population as result of the significant number of additions that are expected in the population associated with non-entitled descendants of Registered Indians (Figure 13). The percentage of the Non-Status Indian population less than 25 years is expected to increase from 52% in 2001 to 55% in 2026. The median age for the Non-status Indian population is also expected to decline from 23.8 years in 2001 to 22.2 years in 2026. The projections indicate that the Non-Status Indian population could have the youngest age structure of all Aboriginal populations by 2026.

Figure 13: Age-Gender Pyramid for Non-Status Indian and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Figure 13: Age-Gender Pyramid for Non-Status Indian and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Households and Families

According to Figure 14, the number of Non-Status Indian households is expected to grow from 45,200 in 2001 to 75,400 in 2026 (67%). In urban and rural areas, it is expected that the number of households will increase by 69% and 55% respectively. On reserve, the number of Non-Status Indian household is relatively small but could grow significantly from 604 in 2001 to 1,591 in 2026. Most of the total growth (77%) in households can be attributed to the expected growth in urban areas.

Figure 14: Projected Number of Non-Status Indian Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 14: Projected Number of Non-Status Indian Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

An indicated in Table 14, the number of Non-Status Indian families is expected to grow from 35,600 in 2001 to 65,500 (84%) in 2026. Non-Status Indian families in urban and rural areas are expected to grow 85% and 66% respectively by 2026. Like Non-Status Indian households, Non-Status Indian families on reserve represent a small portion of total families but are expected to increase more than three times its size from 900 families in 2001 to 2,900 in 2026.

Table 14: Projected Number of Non-Status Indian Families, Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Non-Status Indian Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural Urban
2001 35.6 0.9 8.6 26.1
2006 38.9 1.1 9.2 28.5
2011 43.4 1.4 10.0 32.0
2016 48.7 1.7 11.0 36.0
2021 56.5 2.2 12.6 41.7
2026 65.5 2.9 14.3 48.3

As shown in Table 15, significant growth in the number of Non-Status Indian lone parent families is also expected over the next two decades from 6,700 in 2001 to 12,800 in 2026 (90%). Of the total Non-Status Indian lone parent families, about 85% are estimated to be headed by a female in 2001 and this percentage is expected to remain the same throughout the projections period.

Table 15: Projected Number of Non-Status Indian Lone Parent Families, Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Non-Status Indian Lone Parent Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural (off reserve) Urban (off reserve)
2001 6.7 0.3 1.5 4.9
2006 7.2 0.4 1.6 5.3
2011 8.0 0.4 1.7 5.8
2016 9.0 0.5 1.9 6.5
2021 10.7 0.7 2.2 7.8
2026 12.8 1.0 2.7 9.2






VIII. Registered Indian Projection Results

It is very important to emphasize that there are two series of population projections for Registered Indians developed by AANDC. The following section outlines the projection results of the Registered Indian projections which are based on 2001 Census data. These projections have been developed concurrently with the other Aboriginal population projections in this booklet and can be used for comparison purposes. Appendix A of this booklet contains information regarding the differences between this set of projections and the set of projections which use the Indian Register. [Note 20]

Population Growth

The Registered Indian identity population in Canada has the largest population of all of the Aboriginal groups. After adjustments, it is estimated that the Registered Indian population was about 633,600 in 2001 [Note 21] and is expected to grow to about 920,100 by 2026, an increase of 45%. Depending on the scenario, the projected size in population could be as low as 877,500 (38%) or as high as 939,100 (48%).

In 2001, just over half (53%) of the Registered Indian population lived on reserve, while 37% lived in urban areas, and the remaining 10% lived in rural areas (Figure 15). The on reserve and urban populations are expected to increase by 64% and 33% respectively between 2001 and 2026. In contrast, the rural off-reserve population is expected to decrease by 10% due to the assumption that rural areas will continue to lose some of its Registered Indian population through migration from rural areas to reserve and urban areas. [Note 22]

Figure 15: Projected Registered Indian Population by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 15: Projected Registered Indian Population by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Annual average growth rates for the Registered Indian population closely follow those of the overall Aboriginal population. The current rate of 1.9% is expected to decline to 1.1% over the course of the projection period. However, even with this pattern of decline, the Registered Indian population is still expected to experience future average growth rates that are higher than the Canadian rates.

As with the other Aboriginal groups, population growth rates are expected to slow down over the course of the projection period (Table 16). While this can be partially explained by declining fertility, it is also expected that there will be a loss of registration entitlement among a growing number of descendants of Registered Indians. [Note 23]

In 2001, the Registered Indian fertility rate is estimated at 2.8 children per woman compared to 1.5 children per woman for the general Canadian population.

Table 16: Average Annual Growth Rates of the Registered Indian, Aboriginal and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001-2026

Population Average Annual Growth Rate
2001-2006 2006-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2026
Total Aboriginal 1.8% 1.7% 1.6% 1.4% 1.2%
Total Registered Indian 1.9% 1.7% 1.5% 1.3% 1.1%
Canadian Population* 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
*Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB and 91-520-SCB.

In 2001, the Registered Indian population is concentrated in Ontario and Western Canada, with 21% in Ontario, and 18% in British Columbia. The Prairie regions are expected to have the greatest growth in Registered Indian populations.

Table 17: Projected Registered Indian Population Growth by Gender, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2001 and 2026

Region 2001 (000’s) 2026 (000’s)
Male Female Total Male Female Total
B.C. 54.9 56.8 111.7 71.3 74.0 145.3
Alberta 44.1 46.4 90.5 68.4 71.4 139.8
Saskatchewan 44.4 46.4 90.8 75.6 79.0 154.6
Manitoba 47.6 50.3 97.9 72.5 76.5 149.0
Ontario 62.7 67.4 130.1 84.1 89.7 173.7
Quebec 32.4 33.2 65.6 46.1 47.8 93.8
Atlantic Reg. 13.9 14.2 28.1 19.2 19.5 38.7
Yukon 2.8 3.0 5.8 3.5 3.8 7.3
N.W.T. 6.5 6.4 13.0 8.8 9.0 17.8
Nunavut -- -- 0.1 -- -- 0.1
Canada 309.4 324.2 633.6 449.4 470.6 920.1
"—" are counts that are below the threshold of 100.

Age Structure

Like other Aboriginal populations, in 2001 the Registered Indian population was young in contrast to the general Canadian population with a median age of 24.0 years compared to 37.2 years for the Canadian population. Furthermore, 52% of the Registered Indian population was less than 25 years of age compared to 33% for the Canadian population. While there will be some aging of the Registered Indian population, it will remain quite youthful with 39% of the population less than 25 years of age compared to 26% for the Canadian population.

Figure 16: Age-Gender Pyramid for Registered Indian and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Figure 16: Age-Gender Pyramid for Registered Indian and Canadian Populations, Medium Growth Scenario, 2001 and 2026

Households and Families

Based on the projected high population growth and high fertility rates, the number of Registered Indian households is expected to increase by 77% from 228,100 in 2001 to 403,600 in 2026 (Table 17). The number of on reserve households is expected to more than double (102%). Urban households will grow rapidly, with an increase of 70%, while rural households are growing at a much slower rate, increasing by 19% over the projection period.

Figure 17: Projected Number of Registered Indian Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Figure 17: Projected Number of Registered Indian Households by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

The number of Registered Indian families is expected to increase 87%, from 193,400 in 2001 to 361,300 in 2026 (Table 18). The number of on reserve families is expected to grow extremely rapidly, increasing by 112% to 2026. Urban families are expected to increase by 79% while the number of rural families is still growing (increase of 21%), but trailing in comparison to urban and on reserve numbers.

Table 18: Projected Number of Registered Indian Families by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Registered Indian Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural Off Reserve Urban Off Reserve
2001 193.4 86.8 23.5 83.1
2006 227.2 104.2 24.8 98.3
2011 260.7 122.3 25.7 112.7
2016 293.4 141.2 26.4 125.8
2021 327.4 162.3 27.4 137.7
2026 361.3 184.2 28.4 148.6

The number of lone parent Registered Indian families is expected to increase from 59,800 to 111,200 by 2026 (Table 19). This is expected to more than double with families living on reserve (an increase of 113%). Of the total Registered Indian lone parent families, about 87% are estimated to be headed by a female in 2001 and this percentage is expected to decrease slightly to 85% in 2026.

Table 19: Projected Number of Registered Indian Lone Parent Families, by Place of Residence, Medium Growth Scenario, Canada, 2001-2026

Registered Indian Lone Parent Families (000’s)
Year All Locations On Reserve Rural Off Reserve Urban Off Reserve
2001 59.8 30.0 6.1 23.7
2006 69.9 36.0 6.2 27.7
2011 80.1 42.4 6.2 31.5
2016 90.0 48.9 6.3 34.9
2021 100.4 56.1 6.5 37.9
2026 111.2 63.8 6.7 40.7






Appendix A: ‘Indian Register’ based Projections vs. ‘2001 Census’ based Projections

AANDChas recently developed two different series of population projections:

  1. Registered Indian Population, Household and Family Projections 2004-2029, AANDC, 2006;
  2. Aboriginal Population, Household and Family Projections 2001-2026 AANDC, 2007.

Both sets of projection series produce projections for Registered Indians in Canada over the next 25 years. Indeed, having two different projection sources for Registered Indian population can be problematic and confusing. It is important to understand the main differences between the two series of projections and to be able to distinguish the context in which each series is applicable.

What are the main differences between the two different sets of projections, both of which produce demographic projections for Registered Indians?

The most important distinction is the baseline population. The first series of projections are based on counts from the Indian Register as of December 31, 2004 adjusted for late reporting of births and deaths. The second series of projections are based on counts of individuals who self-identified as Registered Indians on the 2001 Census adjusted for non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. Since the two series use two different data collection methods, the baseline counts for Registered Indians are different. Other considerations regarding the differences between the two series are:

  • The Census baseline counts do not include those Registered Indians living outside of Canada, living in institutions and/or prisons. These individuals, however, are included in the ‘Indian Register’ baseline counts.
  • The baseline counts for the ‘Indian Register’ projection series use data that have been adjusted for late reporting of births and deaths. For 2004, the Indian Register baseline was adjusted upwards (30,700 individuals) due to late reporting (births and deaths) representing an increase of 4.2 percent.
  • The definition for those individuals living off reserve differs between the two series. In the ‘Indian Register’ projection series, it is assumed that off-reserve individuals are living in the same region as their on-reserve counterparts because data captured in the Indian Register are based on band of affiliation. For the 2001 Census series, the on/off reserve residency is determined by the individual’s usual place of residence at the time of the survey.
  • The 2001 Census series defines the Registered Indian Aboriginal group as individuals who self-identified as being registered under the provisions of the Indian Act irrespective of any other Aboriginal identity that may have also been reported.

Even when the difference in the reference base year (2001 for the Census series and 2004 for the Indian Register series) is taken into account, the ‘2001 Census’ series counts are lower than the baseline for the ‘Indian Register’ series (See Figure A1). Since the baseline populations are very different at the onset, the differential in absolute terms remains throughout the projection period. However, since both series use very similar growth component assumptions for Registered Indians, they project very similar growth patterns over the next 25 years.

Figure A1: Comparison between the ‘Indian Register’ based Projections and the ‘Census’ based Projections

Figure A1: Comparison between the ‘Indian Register’ based Projections and the ‘Census’ based Projections

It is also important to note that the two different sets of projections for Registered Indians were developed for different purposes. The ‘Indian Register’ based projection series was developed as part of AANDC’s ongoing work to keep these projections up-to-date incorporating the most recent trends and research in Aboriginal demographics. These projections continue to be the authoritative source for Registered Indian demographic growth in AANDC to support policy development and program planning activities that pertain to Registered Indians. However, due to the increasing need to have “Pan-Aboriginal” projections that are comparable across all Aboriginal groups (Registered Indians, Métis, Inuit and Non-Status Indians), a second series was developed using the 2001 Census as the source for the baseline data.

Which projection series should be used for Registered Indians?

The Registered Indian Population, Household and Family Projections, 2004-2029, AANDC, 2006 is the best available source of projections for Registered Indians in Canada. The baseline data used in this series are more inclusive of the actual Registered Indian population. However, if it is necessary to compare Registered Indian projections with other Aboriginal groups (e.g., the Métis, Inuit and Non-Status Indian), it is recommended to use the Registered Indian projections from the Aboriginal Population, Household and Family Projections 2001-2026, AANDC, 2007 series.

Does this apply to the Household and Family projections for Registered Indians as produced by both series?

Yes. For the same reasons outlined above, the ‘Indian Register’ based and the ‘2001 Census’ based Household and Family projections for Registered Indians should not be used interchangeably and careful consideration should be given to the context in which each series is applied.




Footnotes:

  1. For the purposes of this booklet, the definition of each Aboriginal population group is adapted from the Aboriginal “identity” question on the 2001 Census of Population 2B questionnaire. (return to source paragraph)

  2. Adjustments for non-enumeration and survey undercoverage estimated for these projections resulted in the addition of roughly 88,000 individuals to the Aboriginal Identity population. Due to the adjustments and the Aboriginal Identity assignment rules outlined above, the baseline counts may differ from Aboriginal population counts published elsewhere. (return to source paragraph)

  3. In terms of intra-regional net migration, results of recent analyses (1996 to 2001) of Aboriginal migration between reserves, rural and urban areas have noted a generally consistent trend of modest net in-flows to reserve, large net out-flows from rural areas and small net out-flows from urban areas. (return to source paragraph)

  4. Shortcomings of previous projections for Aboriginal groups relate in part to assumptions regarding Aboriginal identity transfer from parents to their children. These projections include specific component assumptions relating to fertility and parenting patterns and how these affect the identity of children. Children who come from families with one Aboriginal parent and one non-Aboriginal parent (exogamous parenting) or children who come from families with a parent from one Aboriginal group and a parent from another Aboriginal group (endogamous parenting) cannot be assumed to always have the same identity as one, both or for that matter, either of the parents. (return to source paragraph)

  5. “On reserve” includes legally defined Indian reserves, Indian settlements, other land types created by the ratification of Self-Government Agreements, and nothern communities affiliated with First Nations. For more information, please refer to the 2006 Census Dictionary. (return to source paragraph)

  6. Demographic Estimates Compendium 2001, Statistics Canada, Catalogue 91-213-SCB. (return to source paragraph)

  7. These data have been adjusted for non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. (return to source paragraph)

  8. The Census is subject to both non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. The adjusted 2001 figure does not include any individuals who have also identified themselves as a “Registered or Treaty Indian” according to the Indian Act. As well, any remaining individuals who reported more than one other Aboriginal identity (i.e., Métis and/or North American Indian as well as Inuit) were apportioned into the appropriate Aboriginal group on the basis of the relative size of each Aboriginal group. Consequently, the population base numbers used in these projections may differ from those published elsewhere. (return to source paragraph)

  9. Inuit individuals living on reserves are included in the definition of rural, even if the reserves are close to or within an urban setting. Only about 4.5% of Inuit reported living on reserves in Canada according to the 2001 Census. Urban, as defined by Statistics Canada, refers to an area with a minimum population concentration of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre. (return to source paragraph)

  10. An improvement in life expectancy is usually another important component of Aboriginal population growth. However, for the Inuit population, recent research, (Statistics Canada 2008, Life expectancy in the Inuit-inhabited areas of Canada, 1989 to 2003  ) reveals no significant improvements in Inuit life expectancy over the 1991-2001 period. (return to source paragraph)

  11. The vast majority of the Inuit population resides in one of four Inuit regions: Nunavut; Nunavik region in Quebec; Inuvialuit region in the Northwest Territories; and Nunatsiavut region in Labrador. (return to source paragraph)

  12. The Census is subject to both non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. The adjusted 2001 figure does not include any individuals who have also identified themselves as a “Registered or Treaty Indian” according to the Indian Act. As well, any remaining individuals who reported more than one other Aboriginal identity (i.e., Inuit and/or North American Indian as well as Métis) were apportioned into the appropriate Aboriginal group on the basis of the relative size of each Aboriginal group. Consequently, the population base numbers used in these projections may differ from those published elsewhere. (return to source paragraph)

  13. Guimond, Eric, 2003. “Changing Ethnicity: The Concept of Ethnic Drifters”, in Aboriginal Conditions: Research as a Foundation for Public Policy, edited by J White, P Maxim et D Beavon, UBC Press. (return to source paragraph)

  14. Kerr D, E Guimond and MJ Norris (2003). “Perils and Pitfalls of Aboriginal Demography: Lessons Learned from the RCAP Projections”, in: Aboriginal Conditions: Research Foundations for Public Policy, edited by J White, P Maxim et D Beavon, UBC Press. (return to source paragraph)

  15. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-213-SCB. (return to source paragraph)

  16. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-520-SCB. (return to source paragraph)

  17. The Census is subject to both non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. The adjusted 2001 figure does not include any individuals who have also identified themselves as a “Registered or Treaty Indian” according to the Indian Act. As well, any remaining individuals who reported more than one other Aboriginal identity (i.e., Inuit and/or Métis as well as Non-status (North American) Indian) were apportioned into the appropriate Aboriginal group on the basis of the relative size of each Aboriginal group. Consequently, the population base numbers used in these projections may differ from those published elsewhere. (return to source paragraph)

  18. Guimond, Eric, 2003. Changing Ethnicity: The Concept of Ethnic Drifters, in Aboriginal Conditions: Research as a Foundation for Public Policy, edited by J White, P Maxim et D Beavon, UBC Press. (return to source paragraph)

  19. Kerr D, E Guimond and MJ Norris (2003). “Perils and Pitfalls of Aboriginal Demography: Lessons Learned from the RCAP Projections”, in: Aboriginal Conditions: Research Foundations for Public Policy, edited by J White, P Maxim et D Beavon, UBC Press. (return to source paragraph)

  20. Further information regarding the results of the projections for the Indian Register Based projections can be found at Other Publications 2000 to Present. (return to source paragraph)

  21. The Census is subject to both non-enumeration and survey undercoverage. The adjusted 2001 figure for the Registered Indian population includes any individuals who have identified themselves as a “Registered or Treaty Indian” according to the Indian Act regardless if they reported another Aboriginal identity. Consequently, the population base numbers used in these projections may differ from those published elsewhere. (return to source paragraph)

  22. 2007, Stewart Clatworthy and Mary-Jane Norris, Aboriginal Mobility and Migration: Trends, Recent Patterns, and Implication: 1971-2001, Aboriginal Policy Research, Moving Forward, Making a Difference, Volume IV, Chapter 13, Thompson Educational Publishing, INC., Toronto Canada (return to source paragraph)

  23. Due to the interplay of the inheritance rules introduced by the Indian Act in 1985 and rates of exogamous parenting (the parenting of Registered individuals with Non-registered individuals), there is a growing segment of descendants who will no longer be entitled to Indian Registration. (return to source paragraph)