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

Chapter IV : Conclusions

The projections of Aboriginal groups in Canada were prepared to help establish the contribution of those groups to a general demographic profile of Canada in 2017, the 150th anniversary of its Confederation. We used available information to develop several assumptions on future trends in the components of demographic growth for three Aboriginal groups: the North American Indians, the Métis and the Inuit; and constructed five plausible scenarios of their growth. The starting point for the exercise was data from the 2001 Census on peoples who identified Aboriginal, modified for the census undercount.

Data from the five plausible scenarios selected to illustrate the range for change of the size of the Aboriginal population over the next 16 years indicated that the Aboriginal population would continue growing at a much faster rate than the total Canadian population and the pace would be more than double that of the Canadian population. Among the three Aboriginal groups, the Inuit population would grow the most.

Overall, the Aboriginal population will be aging and by 2017 would have proportionally fewer children and more seniors than at the beginning of the 21st century but, nonetheless, would certainly stay much younger than the Canadian population. We might see significant numbers of young Aboriginal adults between the ages of 20 and 29 years entering the labour market - the size of this age group is expected to increase over 40% by 2017.

Ontario and the four Western provinces would continue to be the regions of the highest concentration of the Aboriginal peoples. Alberta may overtake British Columbia as the second, after Ontario, most populous region for the Aboriginal people. But, relative to the total population, the importance of the Aboriginal population may remain highest in the three territories and the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

We might expect some changes in the residential distribution of the Aboriginal peoples. In 2001 one-third were living on reserves and one-quarter in large Canadian cities. The reserve population was projected to increase reaching 40% by 2017, while in proportion, those living in urban areas and rural areas outside reserves would decline.

The above described future demographic profile and residential characteristics of the Aboriginal population were projected by assuming that growth of the Aboriginal groups would be the result of demographic factors only. As shown by recent censuses, however, there is evidence of changes in the reporting of Aboriginal identity over time. This factor has contributed to a substantial increase in the size of the Aboriginal population, especially in urban areas. The projection model did not take into account the unpredictable impact of such a change on the growth of the Aboriginal population in the future. If the future Aboriginality reporting patterns could be assessed and included into the model, the 2017 projected size and geographical distribution of Aboriginal population might shift in favour of the outside-reserve areas, and, in particular, we might see more significance given to cities as places of residence for Aboriginal peoples. Data from the special scenario, which takes into account only one aspect of the Aboriginality reporting and assumed the continuation of the current patterns in transmission of Aboriginality from mother to children, could be used to illustrate the possible impact of non-demographic factors on the growth of the Aboriginal populations.

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