SN off-reserve migration trend continues

Special to the TRT

OTTAWA – In late 2016 Statistics Canada estimates that the number of “aboriginal” households in the next 25 years continues the current trend of urban settlement such as Six Nations of the Grand River where nearly 60 per cent of the 27,000 members live off-reserve.

Housing became a focus following the tragic house fire at Oneida of the Thames in late 2016. Indigenous housing projections include steep increases for both off-reserve and on-reserve indigenous populations throughout the next 20 years. StatsCan says that 699,000 households with at least one “aboriginal” person, represents 5.1 per cent of all households in Canada by 2016.

By 2036, the number of “aboriginal” households would reach between 986,000 and 1,214,000, and would represent between 5.5 per cent and 6.8 per cent of all households in Canada. On Indian reserves, the total number of households — aboriginal and non-aboriginal — was estimated at 120,000 in 2011. This number would increase to 191,000 and 208,000 by 2036.

The People of Indigenous Ancestry (PIA) in Canada was estimated at 1,502,000 in 2011. In all scenarios considered, StatsCan numbers would reach between 1,965,000 and 2,633,000 people by 2036. This would represent an average annual growth of between 1.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent, higher than the 0.9 per cent for the population as a whole. As a result, “aboriginal people” would account for between 4.6 per cent and 6.1 per cent of the Canadian population in 2036, compared with 4.4 per cent in 2011.

StatsCan also forecasts who they identify as the “aboriginal population” is much younger than the total Canadian population. The median age of the “aboriginal population” in 2001 was 24.7, which was about 12 years lower than that of the Canadian settler population. By 2017 it could reach 27.8 years but this would still be 13 years under the Canadian mark. Nearly 70 per cent of the indigenous population are 40 years and under.

The biggest challenge StatsCan says confronts the “aboriginal population” by 2017 could be the large number of young adults aged 20 to 29 entering the labour market. This age group is projected to increase by more than 40 per cent to 242,000, more than four times the projected growth rate of nine per cent among the same age group in the general population.

The National Aboriginal Youth Strategy (NAYS) reported in 1999 that this sector had high drop-out numbers, incarceration rates, poverty, and suicides. StatsCan warns that the increasing numbers of young people will be affected in similarly. At the other end of the age spectrum, the number of aboriginal seniors aged 65 and older could double by 2017, although their share of the population would rise from only four per cent to 6.5 per cent.

The registered status-Indian population would surpass one million by 2036. In 2011, StatsCan said approximately half of all “aboriginal” people (768,000) were Registered Indians, while nearly one in three (437,000) were Métis. An additional 223,000 were Non-Status Indians and 63,000 were Inuit. Each of these four “aboriginal” populations would grow from 2011 to 2036 under all of the selected StatsCan scenarios.

Registered Indians would remain the largest “aboriginal” population group, representing between 1,088,000 and 1,196,000 people by 2036. The Métis population would range from 531,000 to 835,000, the non-status Indian population from 245,000 to 489,000 and the Inuit population from 86,000 to 95,000.

By 2036, the median age of the registered Indian population would range from 32.7 years to 36.1 years (compared with 26.3 years in 2011), while the Inuit population would have a median age between 28.8 years and 32.3 years (compared with 23.1 years in 2011). For these two groups, the level reached by the median age would largely depend on their future fertility.

The median age of the non-status Indian population would range from 26.8 years to 33.0 years by 2036, compared with 27.1 years in 2011, and the level reached would depend largely on future trends related to the changes of self-declared identity of individuals. As for the Métis, their median age would reach about 40 years in all scenarios in 2036 compared with 31.1 years in 2011.

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