Part 2 – Métis children
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"As Aboriginal people we hold sacred the rights of the individual and of the collective. We have respect for each other, for the land and for the animal and plant life that surrounds us. We are people who honour and respect the family, our elders who hold the key to the past, and our children, who are our future." (Métis Nation of Ontario)
In 2006, the Census enumerated about 35,000 Métis children under the age of six years in Canada. The majority (89%) of young Métis children were in the provinces of Alberta (25%), Manitoba (21%), Ontario (15%), Saskatchewan (15%), and British Columbia (14%). A relatively large proportion of Métis children were growing up in rural areas – 27% of young Métis children were living in rural areas compared to 18% of non-Aboriginal children. The remaining 73% of Métis children were living in urban areas (41% in census metropolitan areas and 32% in smaller urban centres).
This section examines some aspects of family and community life of young Métis children.
According to the 2006 Census, 32% of young Métis children were living in families with 3 or more children, compared to 25% of non-Aboriginal children under the age of six. A larger proportion of Métis children in rural areas (39%) were living in families with 3 or more children compared to Métis children in urban areas (30%). (chart 2.1)
Percentage of children living in census families with 3 or more children, Métis and non-Aboriginal children under six years old by area of residence, 2006
Age of parents
Métis children are being raised by younger parents than non-Aboriginal children. According to the 2006 Census, 22% of Métis children under the age of six had mothers between the ages of 15 to 24; this is compared to 8% of non-Aboriginal children.
Living arrangements for young Métis children
According to the 2006 Census, 67% of Métis children were living with two parents. A larger percentage of Métis children were living in lone-parent households than their non-Aboriginal counterparts (30% versus 13% respectively). A higher percentage of Métis children living in urban communities were living in lone-parent households (33%) than those living in rural communities (22%). (chart 2.2)
Across the generations: Living with grandparents
According to the 2006 Census, about 8% of young Métis children were living with their grandparents, compared to 5% of non-Aboriginal children. About 1% of Métis children were living with their grandparents without a parent present, and 7% were in multiple-generation households (children, parents and grandparents). (table 2.1)
Persons involved in raising Métis children
In 2006, the vast majority of Métis children had parents or guardians who reported that they were not the only person involved in raising the child (91%).
Mothers were most commonly reported as being involved in raising the child (94%) followed by fathers (78%) and grandparents (41%). About one-fifth (21%) of Métis children had relatives (such as siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles) playing a part in raising them. (table 2.2)
The 2006 Aboriginal Children Survey (ACS) asked parents and guardians of Métis children about the frequency of focused attention that children received from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, elders and siblings; that is, how often the child and different people in their lives 'talk or play together, focusing attention on each other for five minutes or more".
Métis children were most likely to receive focused attention at least once a day from their mothers (94%), followed by fathers (71%), siblings (70%) and grandparents (24%). Many Métis children received focused attention from extended family at least once a week (combination of daily and weekly): 69% from grandparents, 51% from aunts and uncles and 40% from cousins. (table 2.3)
Young Métis children living in low-income economic families
Statistics Canada uses several different measures of low-income, including the low income (before tax) cut-off (LICO)12 . In 2006, almost one-third (32%) of Métis children under the age of six were in low-income families, compared with 18% of non-Aboriginal children.
The percentage of Métis children living in low-income families was higher in urban areas than in rural areas (36% compared to 20%). Of young Métis children living in census metropolitan areas (urban areas with populations of 100,000 or more), 42% were living in low-income families. (table 2.4)
Percentage of Métis and non-Aboriginal children under six years old who are members of low-income families, 2006
Feelings about home and daily life
On the Aboriginal Children's Survey (ACS), parents and guardians were asked to rate their feelings regarding certain aspects of their home and daily life. Among the categories of 'housing conditions', 'support network', 'main job or activity', 'free time', and 'finances', parents and guardians of young Métis children gave the lowest ratings of satisfaction to 'finances'. (chart 2.3)
Parents or guardians of Métis children under six years old who feel 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied' with…
Those who lived in low-income households reported lower levels of satisfaction with finances. About 36% of Métis children living in low-income families had parents or guardians who reported that they were 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied' with their finances, compared to 15% of those who were not living in low-income families. The percentage of those living in low-income families who reported being 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied' with their housing situation was more than three times higher than those who were not living in low-income families (19% compared to 6%).
The differences between percentages who reported being 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied' with their 'support network from family, friends or others', 'main job or activity' and 'the way you spend your free time' was relatively small between those living in low-income families and those not living in low-income families.
While the large percentage of Métis children in low-income economic families indicates that there are many challenges, in general, parents and guardians reported relatively high levels of satisfaction with the informal social supports available from family, friends and others. The vast majority (93%) reported that they were 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied' with their support network.
Research indicates that children's well-being is linked to neighbourhood 'quality' (Curtis et. al. 2004). On the ACS, parents and guardians of Métis children were asked to rate their feelings about their community. The majority of Métis children lived in a community rated as 'excellent' or 'very good' in terms of 'good schools, nursery schools and early childhood education programs' (60%) 'adequate facilities for children' (55%) and being 'a safe community' (55%). By comparison, 16% of young Métis children were living in a community rated as 'excellent' or 'very good' in terms of Aboriginal cultural activities. (table 2.5)
A relatively large proportion of Métis children were growing up in rural areas – according to the 2006 Census, 27% of young Métis children were living in rural areas compared to 18% of non-Aboriginal children. Based upon the ratings of community in the ACS, Métis children in urban areas were living in communities with better facilities than rural areas (urban communities had higher ratings than their rural counterparts in terms of 'adequate facilities for children' and 'health facilities'). (table 2.5)
Percentage of parents or guardians of Métis children who feel that their community is 'excellent' or 'very good'…
Participation in traditional and cultural activities
In 2006, 28% of young Métis children had participated in or attended 'traditional First Nations, Métis, or Inuit activities such as singing, drum dancing, fiddling, gatherings or ceremonies'. (table 2.6)
More than half of Métis children (53%) under the age of six had taken part in hunting, fishing, trapping or camping. (table 2.6)
About 30% of Métis children had also participated in 'seasonal activities such as gathering goose eggs or wild plants for example berries, sweet grass, roots or wild rice'; however children living in rural areas were more likely to have taken part in these activities than children living in urban areas (40% compared to 26%). (table 2.6)
Percentage of Métis children under the age of six who have taken part in selected traditional activities, 2006
Help with understanding Métis culture and history
In 2006, 31% of Métis children had someone who helped them to understand Aboriginal history and culture. This is compared to 45% of First Nations children living off reserve and 65% of Inuit children.
Of those who had someone involved in helping them understand their history or culture, many were being taught by their parents (56%) and grandparents (46%), as well as aunts and uncles (13%). About 14% of Métis children who had someone to help them understand their culture were learning from their teachers or child care providers. (table 2.7)
In 2006, 48% of Métis children under six years old were in some kind of child care arrangement. This is similar to the percentage (51%) of all Canadian children in child care.13 In this report, child care arrangements refer to the care of a child by someone other than a parent, including daycare, nursery or preschool, Head Start, before or after school programs and care by a relative or other caregiver. These refer to regular arrangements that are used consistently, rather than sporadically (e.g. babysitting). Excluded from this analysis are children that are currently attending school.
It should be pointed out that these data refer to the main child care arrangement; that is the arrangement in which the child spends the most time. About 17% of Métis children under the age of six were in more than one type of child care arrangement.
Of those young Métis children receiving child care, 40% were in a day care or child care centre. This was the most commonly reported child care arrangement. About 21% were being cared for by relatives, either within the child's home (10%) or outside the child's home (11%). About 19% were being cared for by a non-relative outside the child's home. (table 2.8)
Type of Child care arrangement, Métis children under six years who are receiving child care, 2006
Children are in child care arrangements for a variety of reasons. In 2006, about three-quarters (75%) of Métis children were in child care arrangements because the parent or guardian was at work, and 11% because the parent or guardian was at school. About 14% of parents or guardians of Métis children indicated that they used child care arrangements to provide their children with developmental opportunities. (table 2.9)
Reasons for using child care, Métis children under six years old who are receiving childcare, 2006
Child care that promotes traditional and cultural values and customs
In 2006, 95% of Métis children receiving child care were in an arrangement that provided opportunities to participate in learning activities, such as songs, stories, or learning-based play, while about 14% were in child care arrangements that promoted traditional and cultural values and customs. About 6% were in child care arrangements where Aboriginal languages were used.
This brief analysis revealed that a larger percentage of young Métis children (27%) were living in rural areas compared to non-Aboriginal children (18%). Métis children in rural communities were more likely than their urban counterparts to live in large families (three or more children) and to live in two-parent families. On the other hand, higher percentages of Métis children in urban areas than rural areas were living in low-income families. Parents and guardians of Métis children in urban areas rated their communities higher in terms of facilities (such as adequate facilities for children like community centres and parks, and health facilities) than those in rural communities.
Less than one-third of Métis children (31%) had someone to teach them about Aboriginal history and culture, compared to 45% of off-reserve First Nations children and 65% of Inuit children. About 14% of Métis children in child care were in arrangements that promoted traditional and cultural values and customs; this is compared to 24% of off-reserve First Nations children and 56% of Inuit children.
- Low income before tax cut-offs (LICOs) - Income levels at which families or persons not in economic families are expected to spend 20 percentage points more than average of their before tax income on food, shelter and clothing. Economic families in the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut and on Indian reserves were excluded as the low income cut-offs are based on certain expenditure-income patterns which are not available from survey data for the entire population. An economic family refers to a group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. A couple may be of opposite or same sex. For 2006, foster children are included.
- Source: National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth, Cycle 6, 2004/2005. The target population of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth comprises the non-institutionalized civilian population (aged 0 to 11 at the time of their selection) in Canada's 10 provinces. The survey excludes children living on Indian reserves or Crown lands, residents of institutions, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and residents of some remote regions.
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