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Projections of the Aboriginal populations, Canada, provinces and territories
2001 to 2017


Growth of the Aboriginal populations

  • It is estimated that in 2001, 1,066,500 people identified themselves as Aboriginal in Canada. According to selected scenarios based on demographic factors, by 2017 this number could increase to between 1,390,200 and 1,431,800.
  • According to the medium-growth scenario, the Aboriginal share of the total Canadian population was projected to increase to 4.1% by 2017, from 3.4% in 2001.
  • Compared with the total Canadian population, the Aboriginal population is likely to continue its faster growth. The average annual rate increase for the Aboriginal population (1.8%) was projected to be more than double the rate projected for the total population of Canada (0.7%).
  • When current patterns in the transmission of identity from mothers to children were also considered in the projections, the total Aboriginal population would increase by 405,200 over the next 16 years to reach 1,471,700 by 2017. This factor alone would account for about 10% of the projected overall growth of this population.

Composition of the Aboriginal population

  • According to the medium-growth scenario, the Inuit population was projected to grow the fastest, reaching 68,400 in 2017, from 47,600 in 2001. The North American Indians follow, increasing from 713,100 in 2001 to 971,200 in 2017, and the Métis from 305,800 in 2001 to 380,500.
  • The growth of the Métis population would be 1.4% annually during the 16-year period. This is lower than that of the North American Indian population (1.9%) and the Inuit (2.3%).
  • In 2001, the majority of the Aboriginal population was North American Indian, representing 66.9% of this population. The Métis and the Inuit followed with 28.7% and 4.5% respectively. In 2017, the proportion of the North American Indians and the Inuit was projected to increase slightly to 68.4% and 4.8% respectively - while the share that is Métis is expected to drop to 26.8%.

Age profile of the Aboriginal population - youthful, yet showing signs of aging

  • The Aboriginal population is much younger than the total Canadian population yet a trend toward aging is evident during the projection period. The median age of the Aboriginal people in Canada was projected to increase from 24.7 years in 2001 to 27.8 years by 2017 while that of the total Canadian population would increase from 37.1 years to 41.3 years during the same period.
  • In 2001, children under the age of 15 years represented one-third of the total Aboriginal population (32.9%). If fertility continues to decline moderately, the proportion of children will decrease to 28.6% by 2017.
  • During the projection period, a large number of young adults (aged 20 to 29 years) from the Aboriginal population will be entering the labour market. This number was projected to increase by 41.9%, from 170,300 in 2001 to 241,700 in 2017.
  • At the other end of the age pyramid, the number of Aboriginal seniors (aged 65 years and over) was projected to more than double, from 42,400 in 2001 to 92,500 by 2017, though their proportion in the population will only increase from 4.0% to 6.5% during this 16-year period.
  • Among the three Aboriginal groups, the median age of the Métis was projected to increase the most, from 27.0 years in 2001 to 31.9 years by 2017. The Inuit population would remain the youngest with a median age of 20.9 years in 2001 and 24.0 years in 2017. The respective median ages of the North American Indian population are 24.0 years and 26.6 years.

The Aboriginal populations in the provinces and territories

  • In 2001, one in five Aboriginal people lived in Ontario, making it the province with the largest number of people with Aboriginal identity. According to the medium-growth scenario, Ontario will continue to have the highest absolute number of the Aboriginal peoples in 2017, about 267,700.
  • After Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan had the largest Aboriginal population in 2001. By 2017, Alberta may overtake British Columbia to become the second largest province for the Aboriginal population.
  • The highest concentrations of the Aboriginal population in 2001 lived in the North and on the Prairies, and this is not expected to change during the projection period. Nunavut has had the highest proportion of the Aboriginal population, about 84% of its total population. Among the provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been the provinces with the largest proportion of Aboriginal people in their population.
  • The North American Indian population would continue to reside largely in Ontario and the four Western provinces during the projection period.
  • Alberta has been the main province of residence for the Métis: 22.4% lived there in 2001, increasing to 24.5% by 2017.
  • The Inuit are concentrated in Nunavut, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories. This regional distribution was projected to remain relatively stable during the projection period.

Aboriginal populations on-reserve and outside-reserve areas

  • In 2001, about one-third of all Aboriginal peoples lived on reserves, with the remaining 67% in non-reserve areas: 27% in large cities, 21% in smaller cities and 19% in rural areas. According to the medium-growth scenario, by 2017, the proportion of reserve population would increase to 40%, while shares of large cities, smaller cities and rural areas would decline to 25%, 19% and 16%, respectively.
  • The North American Indian population lived mostly on reserves (48%) and in large cities (41%) in 2001. The proportion of those living on reserves was projected to increase to 57% by 2017, mostly at the expense of rural areas. The Métis have lived in urban areas, particularly in large cities - this is not expected to change by 2017. The Inuit are concentrated in northern rural areas and this spatial distribution was projected to continue during the period.

Potential future growth of the Aboriginal population in high concentration regions

  • In the three territories, and in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where the Aboriginal population represents a large share of their total population, the proportions of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 14 years are larger than in the rest of Canada. These proportions are projected to increase, especially in the two provinces. In 2017, 37 out of 100 children in Saskatchewan could be Aboriginal (26% in 2001), and 31 out of 100 in Manitoba (24% in 2001).
  • Over the next 16 years, the regions with high concentrations of Aboriginal population are projected to see an increase in the proportion of Aboriginal young adults (aged 20 to 29 years). In Saskatchewan, this proportion may almost double from 17% in 2001 to 30% in 2017. The proportion in Manitoba was projected to increase to 23% by 2017 from 17% in 2001.

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Date Modified: 2005-06-28 Important Notices