Population and geographic distribution

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Aboriginal population by concept

Chart 1 Population counts, by concept, Canada, 2011

Description for Chart 1

Size of Aboriginal population varies based on concept used

In 2011, more than 1.8 million individuals reported that they had at least one Aboriginal ancestor. This was higher than the 1.4 million individuals who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group (First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuit).

In 2011, 697,505 people reported being Registered or Treaty Indians. The vast majority of these individuals (91.4% or 637,660) also reported identifying as First Nations people, another 4.8% (or 33,415) identified as Métis and an additional, 3.3% (or 22,895) did not identify with an Aboriginal group (First Nations people, Métis or Inuit). Finally, relatively few people who reported being Registered or Treaty Indians identified with more than one Aboriginal group or as Inuit.

There were 675,485 people who reported being a member of a First Nation/Indian band in 2011. Most of these individuals (95.4% or 644,195) also reported identifying as First Nations people, another 2.7% (or 18,415) reported identifying as Métis, and an additional 1.4% (or 9,120) did not identify with an Aboriginal group (First Nations, Métis or Inuit). Finally, relatively few people reported identifying with more than one Aboriginal group or being Inuit and also being members of a First Nation/Indian band.

For additional information, see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

Aboriginal identity population counts

Chart 2 Population counts, by Aboriginal identity and Registered or Treaty Indian status, Canada, 2011

Description for Chart 2

The Aboriginal population is diverse

In the 2011 National Household Survey, 1,400,685 peopleNote 1 identified as Aboriginal persons, representing 4.3% of the total Canadian population. Aboriginal people accounted for 3.8% of the total population enumerated in the 2006 Census and 3.3% of the population enumerated in the 2001 Census. The census counted 1,172,790 Aboriginal people in 2006 and 976,305 in 2001.

Of the 1,400,685 people who identified themselves as Aboriginal, 851,560 (60.8%) identified as First Nations (North American Indian) only; 451,795 (32.3%), identified as Métis only; and 59,445 (4.2%) identified as Inuit only. An additional 26,475 (1.9%), reported other Aboriginal identities and 11,415 (0.8%), reported more than one Aboriginal identity.

Among the 637,660 First Nations people who reported being Registered Indians, nearly half (49.3%) lived on an Indian reserve or Indian settlement.

For additional information on the geographic distribution of Aboriginal peoples, see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

Population growth

Chart 3 Population increase, by Aboriginal identity, Canada, 2006 to 2011

Description for Chart 3

Population increase much higher for Aboriginal people

The Aboriginal population increased by 232,385 people, or 20% between 2006 and 2011, compared with 5% for the non-Aboriginal population.

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of First Nations people increased by 23%, or 156,525 persons, the number of Métis increased by 16%, or 63,315 persons, and the number of Inuit increased by 18%, or 9,090 persons.

The number of First Nations people with Registered Indian or Treaty Indian status (Status Indians) increased by 14%, while the number of First Nations people without Registered Indian or Treaty Indian status (Non-Status Indians) increased by 61%.

For additional information, see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

Provincial/territorial distribution

Chart 4 Provincial/territorial distribution of Aboriginal identity population, Canada, 2011

Description for Chart 4

The largest number of Aboriginal people lived in Ontario and the western provinces

The 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) found that more than one-fifth (22%) of the total Aboriginal population in Canada lived in Ontario, 17% in British Columbia, 16% in Alberta, 14% in Manitoba, and 11% in Saskatchewan. The NHS also reported that 10% of the Aboriginal population lived in Quebec.

While a high proportion of the Aboriginal population live in these six provinces, Aboriginal people did not necessarily represent a large portion of the population of these provinces. For example, Aboriginal people made up just over 2% of the population of Ontario, whereas they represented 86% of the total population of Nunavut.

For additional information on the geographic distribution of the Aboriginal population in Canada, see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

Provincial/territorial distribution of Aboriginal groups

Chart 5 Number of persons with Aboriginal identity, by Aboriginal group, provinces and territories, 2011

Description for Chart 5

Largest concentration of First Nations people live in Ontario, of Métis in Alberta, and of Inuit in Nunavut

Among the provinces and territories in 2011, the largest number of First Nations people lived in Ontario (201,100). The next-largest concentrations were observed in British Columbia (155,020), Alberta (116,670), and Manitoba (114,225).

The largest number of Métis lived in Alberta (96,865). This was followed by populations of 86,015 in Ontario, 78,830 in Manitoba, and 69,475 in British Columbia.

Inuit lived mainly in the north (in Inuit Nunangat). The largest concentration of Inuit was in Nunavut (27,070) . The next-largest concentrations were in Quebec (12,750), mostly in Nunavik; in Newfoundland and Labrador (6,620), mostly in Nunatsiavut; and in the Northwest Territories (4,335), mostly in the Inuvialuit region.

For additional information on the geographic distribution of the Aboriginal population in Canada, see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

Inuit population by Inuit area of residence

Chart 6 Distribution of the Inuit population, Inuit Nunangat and Inuit regions, 2011

Description for Chart 6

Nearly three-quarters of Inuit live in Inuit Nunangat

Almost three-quarters (73%) of Inuit in Canada, or 43,460 people, lived in Inuit Nunangat and about 16,000 Inuit lived outside Inuit Nunangat in 2011.

Nunatsiavut, in northern Labrador, had a population of 2,325 Inuit, or 4% of the total Inuit population in Canada. Inuit represented 89% of the total population of Nunatsiavut.

Nunavik, in northern Quebec, was home to 10,750 Inuit, or 18% of the total Inuit population. Inuit living in Nunavik accounted for 89% of the total population of this region.

There were 27,070 Inuit who lived in Nunavut, which has the largest land mass and biggest Inuit population within Inuit Nunangat. Inuit living in Nunavut accounted for nearly half (46%) of the total Inuit population in Canada. Within Nunavut, Inuit represented 85% of the total population of the territory.

The Inuvialuit region in the Northwest Territories had a population of 3,310 Inuit, or 6% of the total Inuit population. Inuit living in the Inuvialuit region accounted for 58% of the total population of this region.

Edmonton and Montréal have the largest population of Inuit living outside Inuit Nunangat

The census metropolitan areas with the largest Inuit populations were Edmonton (1,115), Montréal (900), Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario part) (735), Yellowknife (735) and St. John's (680).

For additional information, see the chart Distribution of the Inuit population by area of residence – Inuit Nunangat, Canada, 2011 and see the document Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit, 2011 National Household Survey.

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