Inuit Children's Leisure Time Activities: A report using the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (Children and Youth Component)

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Data and methodology
Identifying Inuit children


This report examines the leisure time activities of Inuit children in the four Inuit regions in Canada: the Inuvialuit region in the Northwest territories, the territory of Nunavut, Nunavik in northern Quebec, and Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador (see figure 1). In the general population, leisure activities, or those activities which occupy children's time outside of school, have been shown to impact children's psychological and social well-being (Cooper et al., 1999; Mahoney and Cairns, 1997; Offord et al., 1998; Zaff et al., 2003). While there has been public interest in participation rates for leisure activities, there is very little research on activities for Aboriginal children, and even less with an Inuit-specific focus. Previous research has shown that a similar proportion of Aboriginal children in Canada participate in sports at least once per week compared to their non-Aboriginal peers (approximately 65%) (Findlay and Kohen, 2007). However, little is known about participation in other types of leisure activities. It is therefore of interest to examine Inuit children's leisure time activities, such as arts and music activities, clubs and / or group participation, cultural activities, time spent with elders, and hours per day in sedentary activities.

Figure 1 Inuit regions

Figure 1
Inuit regions

Data and methodology

Data from the Children and Youth Component of the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) were used to create this report. In partnership with national Aboriginal organizations1, the APS was conducted to collect information on the living conditions and lifestyles of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2003). Specifically, the purpose of the APS was to identify the needs of Aboriginal Peoples on issues such as health, language, schooling, and housing. The APS is a post-censal survey, meaning that the APS target population was selected based upon responses to the 2001 Census. Two questions from the long form version of the Census questionnaire were used to identify the APS Inuit target population. The overall response rate to the APS was 84.1%.

Proxy reports were provided by the person most knowledgeable (PMK) of the child. The PMK was by and large the child's biological mother or father (82% of the time), although in some cases the child's grandparent (6%) or aunt / uncle (3%) was the respondent. Parents were asked to report the frequency of participation in leisure time activities (e.g., sports, time spent with elders; see appendix B for a list of questions). Information was not available on the season of participation (e.g., summer versus winter). For the purpose of this report all responses were categorized to reflect participation in the activity once per week or more versus less than once per week, except in the case of television and video games. For these two activities, information on daily participation was available, and responses were categorized based on 3 or more hours per day watching television and two or more hours per day playing video games versus less than that amount. The latter two cut-offs were selected based on the data (using 3 or more hours of videogames would have required suppression of the estimates due to Statistics Canada suppression rules).

In order to generalize the results to the entire Inuit population, population weights were applied to the analysis. Statistically significant comparisons presented in the current report reflect t-test differences at the p < .05 level. A bootstrapping technique was applied to variance estimation to account for the complex survey design of the APS.

Identifying Inuit children

The focus of this report is Inuit children aged 4 to 14 years. A child was considered Inuk if their parent responded, "Yes, Inuit," to the question, "Is … an Aboriginal person, that is, North American Indian, Métis, or Inuit?" Included here are children with Inuit identity and those who identified with more than one Aboriginal group (e.g., Inuit and Métis and / or North American Indian identity).

For some of the leisure time activities, Inuit children were compared to all children in Canada2 to investigate differences in participation rates. When available, information from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) was compared to Inuit children (see appendix B for a list of survey questions from the Aboriginal People Survey (APS) and the NLSCY.) In the NLSCY, two questions were asked regarding children's sport participation. In the current report these questions were summed to reflect total sports participation per week. Information was not available on non-Inuit children's time spent on cultural activities and time spent with elders. In addition, information on non-Inuit children's television and videogame usage was not available for the comparable age group of children; therefore, comparisons with Inuit children were not performed for these activities.

In 2001, approximately four out of five Inuit children in Canada lived in one of four Inuit regions: the Inuvialuit region in the Northwest Territories, the territory of Nunavut, Nunavik in northern Quebec and Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador. Participation rates of children living in each of these four regions are also compared in this report. Approximately 3,800 Inuit children were interviewed in the 2001 APS, which represented 18,500 Inuit children in Canada. About 260 children were interviewed in the Inuvialuit region, 2,000 in Nunavut, 1,050 in Nunavik and 220 in Labrador. Information was also available for 230 Inuit children (15% of the total) who lived outside of these four areas. These children are included in the "All Inuit in Canada" category.

For 2001 APS purposes, "Labrador" (as referred to in this report) consisted of a slightly different set of communities than those that comprise the Nunatsiavut region. While Nunatsiavut includes Hopedale and excludes Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the reverse is true for the Labrador region as defined in this report. In this report, the Inuvialuit region includes Inuvialuit and Inuit living in Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok.


1. The following National Aboriginal Organizations were involved in the development process: Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, the National Association of Friendship Centres, and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

2. For this Fact Sheet the term "all children in Canada" is used to refer to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth(NLSCY). Excluded are children living in the territories. However, some Inuit children living elsewhere in Canada may be included here.

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