Issue 17-138: 2016 Census: Highlights from the Indigenous People in Canada Release

October 26, 2017

Statistics Canada released a new set of Census results on October 25, 2017. This release focuses on key statistics about First Nations people, Métis and Inuit from the 2016 Census of Population.

The next release is November 29th, 2017 and will profile census data on education, labour and work related statistics, and mobility and migration.

Indigenous Population in B.C.

Indigenous people represented 5.9% of B.C.’s population in 2016. The majority of Indigenous people of B.C. are First Nations. Around 63.8% of all Indigenous people in B.C. and 3.8% of the overall population identify as First Nations. The second largest Indigenous population identifies as Métis. Approximately 33.0% of Indigenous people in B.C. are Métis (2.0% of the overall population). The Inuit population is the smallest among Indigenous groups in B.C. with only 1,615 people belonging to this group. The Inuit represent 0.6% of B.C.’s Indigenous population. Around 2.6% of the Indigenous population in B.C. belong to multiple Indigenous identities or to an identity not included elsewhere.

Distribution of the Indigenous Population in B.C.

Of all First Nations people in B.C., 72.8% had Registered or Treaty Indian status. Of the 125,635 First Nations people with Registered or Treaty Indian status, 40.1% lived on reserve, while the rest lived off reserve.

Approximately 30.3% of Indigenous peoples in B.C. live in rural areas, a higher proportion than the overall population.

Vancouver has the largest Indigenous population among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs). Approximately 23% of B.C.’s Indigenous population (61,455 persons) lived in Vancouver in 2016. Victoria has the second largest Indigenous population (17,245 persons).

Age of Indigenous Population in B.C.

Children aged 14 and under comprise 14.5% of B.C.’s non-Indigenous population; however, Indigenous people tend to be younger, with just over one quarter of the Indigenous population aged 14 or younger. This trend is also true for people aged between 15 and 34 years-old. Around 30.8% of the Indigenous population belong to that age group, compared to only one quarter of the non-Indigenous population.

Indigenous Languages in B.C.

In general, the number of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit who could speak an Indigenous language in 2016 was higher than the number with an Indigenous mother tongue, suggesting that Indigenous languages are being learnt as a second language. Almost one in ten First Nations and Inuit peoples in B.C. could speak an Indigenous language, compared to only 0.6% of Métis.

National Highlights

In 2016, there were 1,673,785 Indigenous peoples in Canada, which was 4.9% of the total population. This was up from 3.8% in 2006 and 2.8% in 1996. The increase in the Indigenous population comes from natural growth, as well as an increase in self-identification from census respondents as an Indigenous individual.

The majority of the Indigenous population belonged to First Nations (58.4%), Métis (35.1%) or Inuit (3.9%). In addition to those who reported a single Indigenous identity, 2.6% of Indigenous people reported more than one Indigenous identity or an identity that was not included elsewhere.

Among the First Nations population, 76.2% had Registered or Treaty Indian status, while the other 23.8% did not.

The Indigenous population of Canada is young, with 26.8% of Indigenous people in 2016 under the age of 15, and 31.0% aged between 15 and 34 years; compared to 16.4% and 25.2% respectively for the non-Indigenous population.

Around 39% of the Indigenous population in Canada lived in rural areas in 2016. Meanwhile, over half the Indigenous population lived in a metropolitan area of at least 30,000 people. Winnipeg (92,810), Edmonton (76,205), Vancouver (61,455) and Toronto (46,315) had the largest Indigenous populations among all CMAs.

In 2016, 21.3% of First Nations people, 1.7% of Métis people and 64.0% of Inuit people reported being able to conduct a conversation in an Indigenous language. Just like in B.C., this is a higher proportion than those reporting an Indigenous language as a mother tongue.

Data Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2016