Aboriginal Demographics and Well-Being

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  • Aboriginal demographics and well-being are two of several drivers for policy development.
  • This presentation is an introduction to the demographic and well-being trends of Aboriginal populations and communities.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Aboriginal Demography

  2. Aboriginal Well-Being: Introducing the Community Well-Being Index




1. Aboriginal Demography

Three Aboriginal groups, but many other distinctions

Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people: Indians (First Nations), Métis and Inuit.

The experience of each group has been unique, based on history, heritage, languages, cultural practices and beliefs, as well as distinct needs and aspirations regarding their place in Canada.

There are additional distinctions between and within each of these groups, based on residency, treaties, culture and identity.

Indians (First Nations)

  • Status Indians: (Registered Indians) Persons eligible to be registered under the Indian Act
  • Non-Status Indians: Persons who self-identify as Indian but are not eligible to be registered under the Indian Act

Métis

Persons who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears. (Powley decision)

Inuit

Persons whose ancestry traces back to the original inhabitants of Arctic Canada




A Small and Diverse Population

Aboriginal population surpassed the one-million mark in 2006, up from 976,305 in 2001.

Aboriginal people accounted for 3.8% of the total population of Canada enumerated in the 2006 census, up from 3.3% in 2001.

The size of the Aboriginal population was 1,172,790 in 2006

Figure 1

Note: * Other Aboriginal refers to respondents who reported more than one identity group, and those who reported being a Band member with no Aboriginal identity and no Registered Indian status.

Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




A Very Young Population

The Aboriginal population is much younger than the non-Aboriginal population.

In 2006, 48% of the Aboriginal population was under the age of 25, compared with 31% of the non-Aboriginal population.

The median age of the Aboriginal population was 27 years old, compared with 40 years old for non-Aboriginal people.

Age Pyramid, 2006

Figure 2

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




A Fast-Growing Population

The Aboriginal population grew six times faster than the non-Aboriginal population (47% vs 8%) between 1996 and 2006.

In 2006, 48% of the Aboriginal population was under the age of 25, compared with 31% of the non-Aboriginal population.

The median age of the Aboriginal population was 27 years old, compared with 40 years old for non-Aboriginal people.

Percent Variation in Population Size, 1996-2006

Figure 3

Source: Statistics Canada, 1996 and 2006 Censuses of Population, AANDC tabulations.




No mass exodus from reserves to cities

Contrary to popular belief, there is no mass exodus from Indian reserves to cities. Both the on-reserve and the urban population are growing.

While Aboriginal populations are highly mobile and move back and forth from and to cities (churn) and within cities, the recent Aboriginal population explosion in cities is in large part attributable to changes in self-reporting of cultural affiliation over time.

Net Migration of Registered Indians 1996-2001 and 2001-2006

Place of Residence 1996-2001 2001-2006
Source: Statistics Canada, 1996 to 2006 Censuses of Population, AANDC tabulations.
On Reserve + 10,770 + 10,075
Off Reserve Rural - 7,665 - 13,785
Off Reserve Urban - 3,105 + 4,710



A Growing Urban Population, but Variation Between Groups

The Aboriginal population is increasingly urban (54% in 2006).

There is great variation between groups:

  • About half of Registered Indians lived on-reserve in 2006.
  • Majority of Non-status Indians and Métis lived in urban areas.
  • Inuit lived predominantly in northern rural communities, though urban Inuit population has increased.

Distribution across Community Type, 2006

Figure 4

Note: Urban areas have population of at least 1,000 and no fewer than 400 persons per square kilometre.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Regional variations in the proportion of the population

Map 1



Majority of Communities are Small

According to the 2006 Census, 75% of First Nations reserves have fewer than 500 inhabitants. About half of First Nation reserves (52%) with fewer than 500 inhabitants are located in British Columbia.

With respect to communities located within Inuit Nunangat (Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit), 36% of Inuit communities (18 of 50) have a population of fewer than 500 habitants, while five communities have a population over 2000.

First Nations Reserve by Population Size, 2006

Figure 5

Note: N=865 out of a possible 1,176 First Nation Reserves delineated by Statistics Canada in 2006. Not included are unpopulated reserves and reserves that have data quality issues for which population counts are not available.

Source: Statistics Canada, Geosuite 2006.







2. Aboriginal Well-Being: Introducing the Community Well-Being Index

Community Well-Being Index (CWB): A Brief Description

  • The Community Well-Being (CWB) Index was developed to help measure the quality of life of First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada relative to other communities and over time.
  • This tool uses Statistics Canada's Census of Population data to produce 'well-being' scores for individual communities based on four indicators:

    • Education (High School Plus; University);
    • Labour Force (Participation, Employment);
    • Income (Total per Capita); and,
    • Housing (Quantity: defined on the basis of overcrowding, Quality: defined based on the need for major repairs).



Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Average CWB Scores, 1981-2006

From 1981 to 1996, the CWB indicates significant progress in First Nation and Inuit communities, resulting in the reduction of the well-being gap relative to other Canadian communities.

Since 2001, there has been little or no increase in the CWB of First Nation and Inuit communities while other Canadian communities have experienced increases in CWB.

Average CWB Scores, 1981-2006

Figure 6

Source: Statistics Canada, 1981 to 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Average CWB Scores by Region, 2006

In 2006, First Nation communities showing the lowest CWB scores were located in the Prairies, where the largest segment of the Aboriginal population an the highest proportion of the population is located.

Highest scores are found in the Atlantic region and the North.

Average CWB Scores by Region, 2006

Figure 7

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.

Well-being of Inuit and First Nations communities is comparable in Quebec and in the Atlantic region but slightly lower for Inuit in the Territories.

Average CWB Scores by Region, 2006

Figure 8

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Education Component Score, 1981-2006

Educational attainment has been increasing since 1981, but more rapidly in other Canadian Communities since 2001.

The large jump in "High School Plus" in other Canadian Communities may in part be attributed to how education data were collected and/or processed in 2006.

Education Component Score, 1981-2006

Figure 9

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Labour Force Component Score, 1981-2006

Labour force activity increased in all types of Canadian communities since 1981 at almost the same pace.

Labour Force Component Score, 1981-2006

Figure 10

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Income Component Score, 1981-2006

Generally, income has been increasing since 1981 at a similar pace for First Nations and Other Canadian communities.

Recent increases in Inuit communities occurred at a faster rate.

Income Component Score, 1981-2006

Figure 11

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Housing Component Score, 1981-2006

The housing score of other Canadian communities has been fairly stable since 1981.

The overall housing score of First Nation and Inuit communities has declined between 2001 and 2006, particularly in Inuit communities.

Housing Component Score, 1981-2006

Figure 12

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Housing Quality Component Score, 1981-2006

The Housing Quality element of the CWB index has decreased in First Nation and Inuit communities, while remaining stable in other Canadian communities.

Housing Quality Component Score, 1981-2006

Figure 13

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.




Well-Being in First Nations Communities: Community Well-Being Index (CWB)

Map 2: Well-Being in First Nations Communities



Well-Being in Inuit Communities: Community Well-Being Index (CWB)

Map 3: Well-Being in Inuit Communities



Community Well-Being Index (CWB): Range of CWB Score in 2006

Between 2001 and 2006, about a third of Aboriginal communities experienced a decline in their CWB index scores, compared to 10% of other Canadian communities.

Only one First Nation community ranked among the "top 100" Canadian communities.

In 2006, among the "bottom 100" Canadian communities, 96 were First Nations and one was Inuit.

The level of disparity observed across Aboriginal communities is significantly greater than that observed across other Canadian communities.

Range of CWB Score in 2006

Figure 14

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, AANDC tabulations.