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Canadian Indigenous Population Hits 1.8m In 2021, Twice As Fast As Non-indigenous Populations: Census

Highlights

The 2021 Census counted 1.8 million Indigenous people, accounting for 5.0% of the total population in Canada, up from 4.9% in 2016.

The Indigenous population grew by 9.4% from 2016 to 2021, surpassing the growth of the non-Indigenous population over the same period (+5.3%). However, this growth was not as rapid as in years past. For example, from 2011 to 2016, the Indigenous population grew by 18.9%—more than double the 2021 growth rate.

For the first time, the Census of Population enumerated more than 1 million First Nations people living in Canada (1,048,405).

In 2021, there were 624,220 Métis living in Canada, up 6.3% from 2016.

In 2021, there were 70,545 Inuit living in Canada, with just over two-thirds (69.0%) living in Inuit Nunangat—the homeland of Inuit in Canada.

The Inuit population living outside Inuit Nunangat grew at a faster pace than the population within the Inuit homeland (+23.6% versus +2.9%).

The Indigenous population living in large urban centres—801,045 people—has grown by 12.5% from 2016 to 2021.

The Indigenous population was 8.2 years younger, on average, than the non-Indigenous population overall. Just over one in six working-age Indigenous people (17.2%) were “close to retirement” (55 to 64 years), compared with 22.0% of the non-Indigenous population.

For First Nations, Métis and Inuit families, grandparents often play an important role in raising children as well as in passing down values, traditions and cultural knowledge to younger generations. In 2021, 14.2% of Indigenous children lived with at least one grandparent, compared with 8.9% of non-Indigenous children.

Indigenous people were more likely than the non-Indigenous population to be living in a dwelling that was in need of major repairs (16.4% versus 5.7%) or live in crowded housing (17.1% versus 9.4%) in 2021.

In 2021, almost one in five Indigenous people in Canada (18.8%) lived in a low-income household, using the low-income measure, after tax. This was down nearly 10 percentage points from 2016. The decline was likely driven by government transfers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Canada, 237,420 Indigenous people could speak an Indigenous language well enough to conduct a conversation. While the number of people with an Indigenous mother tongue has been in decline, there has been growth in the number of Indigenous second-language speakers.

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