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Study: Harvesting activities among First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit: Time trends, barriers and associated factors, 2001-2017

Released: 2019-04-16

Harvesting activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering wild plants have been part of First Nations, Métis and Inuit way of life for millennia. Many previous studies have shown that these practices have endured despite the impact of colonization, including effects of residential schools, relocation to permanent settlements and the introduction of the wage economy.

Harvesting activities are important for fostering cultural identity and morale, meeting nutritional needs, health and the local economy. This paper uses data from four cycles of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2001, 2006, 2012 and 2017) to examine trends in harvesting activities, specifically hunting, fishing or trapping and gathering wild plants or berries among First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit. It also explores self-reported barriers to participation in harvesting activities and associated characteristics.

About one in three First Nations people living off reserve hunt, fish, trap or gather wild plants or berries with little change over time

Two-thirds of First Nations people, including those with and without registered or treaty Indian status in Canada lived off reserve in 2016. The off-reserve First Nations population grew by nearly 50% from 2006 to 2016. The population is young, with an average age of 31 years, 10 years younger than the non-Indigenous population.

In 2017, one in three (33%) First Nations people living off reserve hunted, fished or trapped, and 3 in 10 (30%) gathered wild plants or berries. Despite the significant growth in the off-reserve population during this time, there was little change in the percentage who were harvesting from 2001 to 2017.

Hunting, fishing and trapping more prevalent among Métis than gathering wild plants or berries

The Métis population is a relatively young population, with an average age of 35 years. Although largely living in urban areas, about one in three (35%) Métis hunted, fished or trapped, and about one-quarter (27%) gathered wild plants or berries in 2017.

The prevalence of hunting, fishing or trapping was lower in 2012 (36%) and 2017 (35%) compared with 2006 levels (44%). This was especially true among youth and young adults, as rates for this demographic declined from 46% in 2006 to 38% in 2012 and to 33% in 2017. There was no significant change over time in the percentage of the population that gathered wild plants or berries.

About two in three Inuit in Inuit Nunangat hunt, fish or trap, but participation appears to be decreasing among working age adults

Inuit are the original people of the North American Arctic. Most (73%) live in the Inuit homeland, Inuit Nunangat, which stretches from westernmost Arctic to the eastern shores of Labrador. The Inuit population is young, with an average age of 28 years, and growing rapidly.

Among Inuit in Inuit Nunangat, about two-thirds (65%) hunted, fished or trapped, and about one-half (47%) gathered wild plants or berries in 2017. Despite such high rates, the percentage of Inuit who hunted, fished or trapped has declined since 2006, most notably among working-age adults. In this group, the proportion who hunted, fished or trapped decreased from 70% in 2006 to 63% in 2012 and to 58% in 2017.

Involvement in First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, social events or cultural activities associated with increasing likelihood of hunting, fishing or trapping

Men were more likely to hunt, fish or trap than women. Those involved in First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, social events or cultural activities were more likely to hunt, fish or trap than those who were not.

Other characteristics were important for some of these populations and not others. For example, household income was associated with one's likelihood to hunt, fish or trap for First Nations people living off reserve and Métis, but not for Inuit.

Time constraints were the most commonly-reported barrier to hunting, fishing or trapping in all three Indigenous groups. However, among First Nations people living off reserve, location was another key barrier, and among Inuit, monetary constraints were identified as another leading impediment.

  Note to readers

The 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) datasets were used for analysis on changes over time. For other analysis, the 2012 and 2017 APS datasets were used depending on the concepts applied. For example, while participation in the past 12 months, frequency of participation and reasons for participation were available in the 2017 APS, perception of adequacy of time spent, non-participation among those interested, and reasons for non-participation were available in the 2012 APS.

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The article "Harvesting activities among First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit: Time trends, barriers and associated factors" (89-653-X) is now available.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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