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Aboriginal population in Canada
North American Indians

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Aboriginal population in Canada

  • The Aboriginal identity population in Canada, estimated at 1.3 million in 2006, could reach between 1.7 million and 2.2 million in 2031 according to the scenarios developed in these population projections. Aboriginal peoples would then represent between 4.0% and 5.3% of the Canadian population, compared to 3.9% in 2006.
  • The average annual growth rate of the Aboriginal population would range between 1.1% and 2.2% from 2006 to 2031. In comparison, the growth rate of the non-Aboriginal population would average 1.0% annually.
  • The growth rate of the Aboriginal identity population in Canada between 2006 and 2031 will be closely related to the future scope of intragenerational ethnic mobility, the phenomenon that results from changes in the reporting of Aboriginal identity during an individual's lifetime.
  • The Aboriginal population would remain younger than the non-Aboriginal population throughout the projected period but would also age. Aboriginal peoples' median age would go from 26.6 years in 2006 to a value between 35.0 and 36.7 years in 2031. By comparison, the median age would reach 43.1 years in 2031 among the non Aboriginal population, up from 39.4 years in 2006.
  • According to these projections, Saskatchewan and Manitoba would be the provinces with the largest proportions of Aboriginal people. Between 21% and 24% of the population of Saskatchewan and between 18% and 21% of the population of Manitoba would have an Aboriginal identity in 2031. The proportion was close to 16% in each of those provinces in 2006.
  • Aboriginal peoples would continue to comprise a large proportion of the population of the territories in 2031, with between 22% and 23% in Yukon, between 51% and 52% in the Northwest Territories and between 85% and 86% in Nunavut.
  • In 2031, between 36% and 40% of Aboriginal people would live in a census metropolitan area, compared to nearly three persons in four for non-Aboriginal people. In 2006, these proportions were 34% for Aboriginal people and 69% for non-Aboriginal people.
  • In 2031, according to the scenarios developed, five CMAs could have a population in which Aboriginal peoples would comprise more than 10% if ethnic mobility was to continue: Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Greater Sudbury.

North American Indians

  • According to the results of these projections, the North American Indian population would grow at an average annual rate of between 1.2% and 1.9% from 2006 to 2031. By the end of this period, that population would be between 1.1 million and 1.2 million, compared to 785,000 in 2006.
  • If, throughout the entire projection period, intragenerational ethnic mobility was to continue at the level observed between 1996 and 2006, it would be responsible for approximately 30% of the increase in the North American Indian identity population.
  • In 2031, despite its aging, the North American Indian population would continue to be younger than the Métis population and the non-Aboriginal population but older than the Inuit population, with a median age between 32.8 and 34.6 years. The median age of North American Indians was 25.3 years in 2006.
  • In 2031, like in 2006, more than four North American Indians in five would live in either Ontario or the Western provinces.
  • According to all of the projection scenarios, in 2031 North American Indians would represent at least 5% of the population of five census metropolitan areas: Thunder Bay, Brantford, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg. Conversely, less than half of one percent of the population of Toronto would identify as North American Indian.
  • In absolute numbers, the North American Indian population living on reserve would grow during the 25 years covered by the projections. From 361,000 in 2006, that population would increase to between 511,000 and 585,000 in 2031.


  • In 2006, the Métis identity population stood at 404,000. By 2031, it would reach just over 500,000 if ethnic mobility was to cease in 2006, but would rise to more than 850,000 if ethnic mobility were to continue at the level observed between 1996 and 2006.
  • If ethnic mobility was to continue, the population reporting a Métis identity would be the fastest growing of the Aboriginal populations, with an average annual growth rate of about 3.1% until 2031. On the other hand, if ethnic mobility were to cease in 2006, this population would grow the most slowly, with an average increase of 0.9% per year.
  • According to all of the projection scenarios, the Métis population would age in the coming years. The median age of this population, which was 29.4 years in 2006, could reach approximately 39 years in 2031.
  • In 2006, nearly nine Métis in 10 (87%) were living in the Western provinces and Ontario. In 2031, this distribution would remain almost the same, according to all the projection scenarios.
  • In 2031, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would be the two provinces with the largest proportions of Métis in their population. Between 6% and 9% of Manitoba's population and between 6% and 7% of Saskatchewan's would then have a Métis identity. Quebec would be the province with the lowest proportion of Métis, with less than 1% according to all scenarios.
  • In 2031, five census metropolitan areas could have a population with at least 5% identifying as Métis. These are census metropolitan areas located in the westernmost part of Ontario (Thunder Bay and Greater Sudbury), and the CMAs of Manitoba (Winnipeg) and Saskatchewan (Regina and Saskatoon).


  • According to these projections, the Inuit population in Canada would reach between 73,000 and 77,000 in 2031, compared to 53,000 in 2006.
  • The Inuit population, augmented solely by natural increase, would grow at an average annual rate of between 1.3% and 1.5% from 2006 to 2031. Throughout this period, the Inuit rate of natural increase would remain the highest of all Aboriginal identity groups, regardless of the scenario considered.
  • In 2006, the Inuit were the youngest Aboriginal identity group, with a median age of 22.0 years. A quarter century later, the Inuit population would have aged, but it would still be the youngest Aboriginal identity group. The median age of Inuit would then be between 30.6 and 32.3 years.
  • In 2006, slightly more than three-quarters of Inuit in Canada (78%), or nearly 42,000 persons, resided in one of the four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homelands. In 2031, this proportion would remain almost unchanged.


* Data for 2006 were adjusted for net undercoverage and partially enumerated reserves. For this reason, the data shown in this section may differ from 2006 Census data disseminated by Statistics Canada.

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