Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Aboriginal baby boom sees young, surging population

First Nations Idle No More protesters hold hands and dance in a circle during a demonstration at the Douglas-Peace Arch crossing on the Canada-U.S. border near Surrey, B.C., on Saturday January 5, 2013.


The baby boom that is creating a burgeoning and increasingly activist generation of young First Nations, Metis and Inuit people is born out in the first report of the national survey of the Canadian population conducted two years ago.

Canada's aboriginal population increased by 20.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011, compared to an increase of 5.2 per cent in the non-aboriginal population, according to the first report of the National Household Survey of 2011 which was released Wednesday. 1.4 million people had an aboriginal identity, representing 4.3 per cent of the total Canadian population.

The voluntary survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, is not expected to be as accurate as its predecessors but should accurately reflect broad shifts in the makeup of the population. Statistics Canada has warned that the voluntary responses to the new survey may under-represent Aboriginal peoples. Plus, comparisons with the past are problematic, since previous questionnaires were mandatory. And a variety of reserves refused to participate or simply couldn't participate at all, compounding the data quality issues.

Story continues below advertisement

The indigenous population is young.

Children under the age of 14 accounted for 28 per cent of the total number of aboriginal people in the survey. That compares to just 16.5 per cent for the non-aboriginal population.

In all, aboriginal children made up 7 per cent of all children in Canada in 2011.

And while the percentage of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the non-aboriginal population was 13 per cent, it was more than 18 per cent among aboriginals.

Among the Inuit – the youngest of the three indigenous groups – the median age was 23.

But aboriginal kids lead different lives to those who are born into non-aboriginal families.

While three in four non-aboriginal children live with both of their parents, less than half of aboriginal children share a home with their mother and father. They are twice as likely to live in a single-parent household.

Story continues below advertisement

And almost half of all children living in foster care in 2011 were Aboriginal.

About one in six Metis, Inuit and First Nations people could converse in a traditional language in 2011. That was down from more than one in five over the past five years.

But more children seem to be learning the languages of their ancestor in school because an increasing number reported English or French as their mother tongue with the ability to speak an aboriginal second language.

With files from the Canadian Press

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at