The Aboriginal population is much younger than the non-Aboriginal population. In 2006, the median age of the Aboriginal population was 27 years, compared with 40 years for non-Aboriginal people, a gap of 13 years. (The median age is the point where exactly one-half of the population is older, and the other half is younger.)
The Aboriginal population was youngest in Nunavut and in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, provinces with a high proportion of Aboriginal people in their population. The median age of Aboriginal people in Nunavut was 20 years in 2006, compared with 37 years for the non-Aboriginal population. The median age was 24 years in Manitoba and 22 years in Saskatchewan.
Children and youth aged 24 and under made up almost one-half (48%) of all Aboriginal people, compared with 31% of the non-Aboriginal population. About 9% of the Aboriginal population was aged 4 and under, nearly twice the proportion of 5% of the non-Aboriginal population. Similarly, 10% of the Aboriginal population was aged 5 to 9, compared with only 6% of the non-Aboriginal population.
According to population projections released by Statistics Canada in 2005, Aboriginal people could account for a growing share of the young adult population over the next decade. By 2017, Aboriginal people aged 20 to 29 could make up 30% of those in their 20s in Saskatchewan; 24% in Manitoba; 40% in the Yukon Territory; and 58% in the Northwest Territories. Already, more than 80% of Nunavut's population aged 20 to 29 is Aboriginal, and the proportion is expected to grow.1
Children and youth made up a particularly large share of the Aboriginal population in several urban areas that were home to a large number of Aboriginal people. In three urban areas, more than half of the Aboriginal population was aged 24 and under: Regina (56%), Saskatoon (55%), and Prince Albert (56%).
Nevertheless, like the total population, the Aboriginal population is slowly getting older. This aging is due to declining fertility rates and to gradual improvements in life expectancy. However, fertility rates remain higher for the Aboriginal population and life expectancy still lags behind that of the total population of Canada.2
The number of Aboriginal seniors, while relatively small, doubled between 1996 and 2006, while the number of seniors in the non-Aboriginal population increased 24%.
However, in 2006, seniors represented only 5% of the Aboriginal population, compared with 13% of the non-Aboriginal population.
In 2006, the majority of Aboriginal children aged 14 and under (58%) lived with both parents, while 29% lived with a lone mother and 6%, with a lone father. In addition, 3% of Aboriginal children lived with a grandparent (with no parent present) and 4% lived with another relative. This situation is very similar to that observed in 2001.3
Compared with their non-Aboriginal peers, Aboriginal children were much more likely to live with a lone parent of either sex, a grandparent (with no parent present) or with another relative. Less than 1% of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children lived with non-relatives.
Aboriginal children are also twice as likely as non-Aboriginal children to live in multiple-family households.
Table 4 Living arrangements of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children aged 14 years and under, Canada, 2006
More detailed information about the living conditions of Aboriginal children, youth and adults will be available in the fall of 2008 when the results of two postcensal Aboriginal surveys are released (see text box).
Aboriginal peoples postcensal surveys
Following the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada conducted two surveys involving the Aboriginal population living off reserve and in the North. These were the 2006 Aboriginal Children's Survey (ACS) and Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS). Data were collected between October 2006 and March 2007. Results are expected to be available in the fall of 2008.
The ACS is a new national survey of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children aged 5 and under. It collected information on the development and well-being of Aboriginal children. The APS was previously conducted following the 1991 and 2001 censuses, and provides data on the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The 2006 APS provides data for children and youth aged 6 to 14 and for adults aged 15 and over.
The surveys were developed by Statistics Canada in collaboration with Aboriginal advisors from across the country, as well as national Aboriginal organizations and federal partners.
For more information, see the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) website.