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This report presents projections of the Aboriginal population and households in Canada based on the most up-to-date data available, notably data from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). Within the context of these projections, the Aboriginal identity population comprises people who self-identified as Registered Indians and, among those who did not, who identified as Non-Status Indians, Métis, Inuit or other Aboriginal people in the 2011 NHS.

Aboriginal identity population in Canada

  • The Aboriginal identity population in Canada, estimated at 1,502,000 in 2011, could increase to between 1,965,000 and 2,633,000 by 2036 under the projection scenarios developed for this report.
  • The average annual growth rate of the Aboriginal population would be higher than that of the non-Aboriginal population under all of the projection scenarios developed. As a result, the proportion of Aboriginal people within the total Canadian population could increase from 4.4% in 2011 to between 4.6% and 6.1% in 2036.
  • The intragenerational ethnic mobility of Aboriginal people—changes in a person's self-reported Aboriginal group throughout his or her lifetime—and higher fertility are the main components of the Aboriginal population's higher growth.
  • According to the projections, the Aboriginal population would still be younger than the non-Aboriginal population in 2036, but it would age more rapidly. The median age of Aboriginal people, which was 27.7 years in 2011, would be between 34.7 years and 36.6 years in 2036. By comparison, the median age of the non-Aboriginal population would rise from 40.5 years to 44.5 years during this period.
  • Among the provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would continue to have the largest Aboriginal population relative to the size of the total population. The proportion of Aboriginal people in the population could reach between 17.6% and 21.3% in Manitoba and between 18.5% and 22.7% in Saskatchewan by 2036.
  • Aboriginal people would continue to represent a large proportion of the population of the territories in 2036: between 21.7% and 24.6% of the Yukon population, between 51.0% and 56.2% of the population of the Northwest Territories and between 88.5% and 89.9% of the population of Nunavut.

Registered Indians

  • In 2011, more than half of all Aboriginal people, or 768,000 people, reported being a Registered Indian. According to the projections, this population would increase to between 1,088,000 and 1,196,000 by 2036. The scale of this increase depends largely on whether higher fertility is maintained within this group.
  • Over the next 25 years, the registered Indian population is projected to age, but at a slower rate than that of the Aboriginal population as a whole. The median age of the registered Indian population, which was 26.3 years in 2011, would be between 32.7 years and 36.1 years in 2036.
  • Nearly half (48%) of Registered Indians were living on an Indian reserve in 2011. This proportion would remain virtually unchanged if past trends in internal migration, generally favourable to Indian reserves, were to continue until 2036. The proportion would decrease to 46% if internal migration ceased to be a growth factor.

Non-Status Indians

  • The non-status Indian population is a population that has grown significantly as a result of intragenerational ethnic mobility. These gains have been partially offset by losses associated with registrations on the Indian Register. Therefore, this population, which was 223,000 in 2011, would increase modestly if ethnic mobility were to cease after 2011 (245,000 in 2036), but would more than double if this phenomenon were to continue (489,000 in 2036).
  • The non-status Indian population is expected to age at the slowest rate over the next 25 years. The median age of this population, which was 27.1 years in 2011, would be between 32.1 years and 33.0 years in 2036 under all scenarios that have constant intragenerational ethnic mobility. This population could, however, see its median age decline slightly to 26.8 years in 2036, if ethnic mobility were to cease in 2011.
  • In 2011, Non-Status Indians were the group with the highest proportion of people living in a census metropolitan area (CMA). This proportion is projected to remain above 50% in 2036 under all scenarios.


  • Nearly one in three Aboriginal people was Métis in 2011. Under the chosen scenarios, the Métis population could range from 531,000 to 835,000 in 2036, up from 437,000 in 2011. As fertility among Métis is relatively low, the large difference between projection scenarios is due to the uncertainty surrounding the intragenerational ethnic mobility of Aboriginal people in coming years.
  • The median age of the Métis population would increase more rapidly between 2011 and 2036 than that of the non-Aboriginal population and that of the Aboriginal population as a whole. It would rise from 31.1 years in 2011 to about 40 years in 2036, an increase of about nine years under all scenarios considered.
  • In 2011, 47.8% of Métis lived in a census metropolitan area. This proportion would rise to more than 50% under all scenarios, unless ethnic mobility were to cease driving this increase.


  • The Inuit population is expected to increase at an average annual rate of between 1.2% and 1.7%, mostly as a result of its strong fertility. This growth rate is high, as life expectancy is shorter for the Inuit than for the rest of the population. The Inuit population would reach between 86,000 and 95,000 in 2036, compared with 63,000 in 2011.
  • The Inuit population was the youngest Aboriginal identity group in Canada, with a median age of only 23.1 years in 2011. This population is expected to age throughout the projected period and would see its median age increase by six to nine years by 2036. The pace of this aging would be closely tied to the future fertility of this group.
  • In 2011, 46,000 Inuit were living in one of the four regions of Inuit Nunangat. In 2036, the Inuit population living in Inuit Nunangat would reach between 64,000 and 72,000.

Aboriginal households

  • In 2011, 699,000 households comprised at least one Aboriginal person, accounting for 5.1% of all households in Canada. In 2036, the number of Aboriginal households would be between 986,000 and 1,214,000, and would represent between 5.5% and 6.8% of all households.
  • The number of Aboriginal households is projected to increase in all regions of Canada by 2036. This growth would be higher in Nunavut (between +72.8% and +79.4%) and the Prairie provinces: between 58.2% and 78.4% in Manitoba, between 64.6% and 74.0% in Saskatchewan and between 60.5% and 90.7% in Alberta. The Atlantic region would see the lowest growth rates in the number of Aboriginal households during this period.
  • The number of households (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) on Indian reserves in Canada would rise between 2011 and 2036. There were 120,000 households on reserves in 2011, a number that could rise to between 191,000 and 208,000 in 2036.
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