Canada’s Aboriginal population is younger and faster-growing than its non-Aboriginal one. In 2006, the median age for Aboriginal people was 27 years, compared with 40 years for non-Aboriginal people.
From 1996 to 2006, the Aboriginal population increased 45%, nearly six times faster than the 8% growth rate for the non-Aboriginal population.
In 2006, 1,172,790 people identified themselves as an Aboriginal person, either as North American Indian (or First Nations people), Métis or Inuit.
Demographic trends, such as high birth rates, are one factor of the high growth rate. As well, more people are identifying themselves as an Aboriginal person, and more reserves participated in the 2006 Census than in previous censuses. Aboriginal people make up a growing share of Canada’s population, representing 3.8% of people enumerated in the 2006 Census, up from 3.3% in 2001 and 2.8% in the 1996 Census.
In 2006, First Nations people accounted for 60% of the total Aboriginal population in Canada, the Métis 33%, and the Inuit 4%. Most First Nations people are Status Indians, meaning they are registered under the Indian Act. In 2006, 564,870 First Nations people reported they were Registered Indians; they made up 81% of the total First Nations population.
Despite some improvements, Canada’s Inuit, Métis and First Nations people do not share the levels of socio-economic wellbeing of the general population. Aboriginal people are less likely to complete high school, and their path to postsecondary education is less direct, as they tend to return to school later in life. They are also less likely to be employed and more likely to live with low incomes.
Also, Aboriginal people are less likely to be in good health. For example, 58% of Métis aged 15 and older reported their health as excellent or very good in 2006, compared with 62% of Canada’s entire population.
In addition, Inuit adults are less likely to have contact with a medical doctor than the rest of the Canadian population: 56% of Inuit adults had contact with a medical doctor in the 12 months prior to a 2006 survey, compared with 79% of adults in the total Canadian population, after controlling for age differences. Life expectancy for Inuit in the North is about 15 years lower than for the general population.
Over the past decade, the share of Aboriginal people living in crowded homes has declined. In 2006, 11% of Aboriginal people lived in homes with more than one person per room, down from 17% in 1996. However, nearly one in four lived in homes requiring major repairs in 2006, unchanged from 1996. Aboriginal people are almost four times as likely as non- Aboriginal people to live in a crowded dwelling. They are also three times as likely to live in a home in need of major repairs.
Crowding is especially common on Indian reserves or settlements. One-quarter (26%) of on-reserve First Nations people lived in crowded conditions in 2006.