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The Aboriginal population is becoming increasingly urban. In 2006, 54% lived in an urban centre, an increase from 50% in 1996. Urban areas include large cities, or census metropolitan areas, and smaller urban centres.
In comparison, 81% of non-Aboriginal people were urban dwellers in 2006. The difference between the two proportions is due mainly to the large share of First Nations people who live on reserves.
First Nations people accounted for 50% of the urban Aboriginal population in 2006, while 43% were Métis. However, the share of the Métis population in urban centres has grown considerably since 1996, when they accounted for 35% of all urban Aboriginal people. Relatively few Inuit lived in southern urban centres.
Urban Aboriginal people are less likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to live in large urban centres. In 2006, 59% of the urban Aboriginal population lived in census metropolitan areas, compared with 80% of non-Aboriginal people. The remaining 41% of the urban Aboriginal population lived in urban centres smaller than a census metropolitan area.
A total of 291,035 Aboriginal people, or 25% of the total Aboriginal population, lived in nine of the nation's 33 census metropolitan areas in 2006. However, Aboriginal people do not make up a very large share of the population in some of these large metropolitan centres.
The census metropolitan area of Winnipeg had the highest number of Aboriginal people, 68,380, representing 10% of its total population. Edmonton, with 52,100, had the second largest number of Aboriginal people, accounting for 5% of its population. Vancouver had 40,310, representing 2% of the population.
Other census metropolitan areas with a large Aboriginal population included Toronto (26,575 or 0.5% of its population) and Calgary (26,575 or 2% of its population). Saskatoon had 21,535 Aboriginal people, accounting for 9% of its population, while Regina had 17,105, also about 9% of its population.
On the other hand, Aboriginal people made up a considerable share of the population in several smaller urban centres in the West. They accounted for 36% of the population in Thompson, Manitoba, 35% in Prince Rupert, British Columbia and 34% in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Table 3 Number and percentage of population who identified as Aboriginal, selected cities, 2006