Aboriginal populations grew across Canada's North in the last 10 years, leaping in Nunavut and the Yukon while making smaller gains in the Northwest Territories, according to census figures released Tuesday by Statistics Canada.

Almost half of Canada's Inuit call Nunavut home, the census found. About 24,600 people, or 49 per cent of all Inuit, live in the territory. As was the case in past counts, 84 per cent of all Nunavut residents in 2006 identified themselves as Inuit.

Canadian Inuit also live in:

  • The Nunavik region in northern Quebec: 19 per cent of all Inuit in Canada, or 9,565 people.
  • The Inuvialuit region in the Northwest Territories: six per cent, or 3,115 people.
  • The Nunatsiavut region in Labrador: four per cent, or 2,160 people.

The last decade saw a boost in Nunavut's Inuit population, growing by 20 per cent between 1996 and 2006.

Meanwhile, the number of aboriginal Yukoners also went up about 23 per cent during that same time period, to 7,580 people.

By contrast, the aboriginal population in the Northwest Territories grew by only nine per cent, to 20,635, people by 2006.

Within the Northwest Territories, the number of aboriginal people who identified themselves as "North American Indian" grew by 15 per cent to 12,640. While the number of Inuvialuit grew by nearly four per cent, the number of Metis in the N.W.T. shrank by 2.5 per cent.

About 83 per cent of the Yukon's aboriginal population said they were "North American Indian" in 2006, but a growing number of Metis and Inuit were identified in the territory over the 10-year period.

Overall, the total aboriginal population in Canada went up by 45 per cent between 1996 and 2006, according to Statistics Canada.

During that same time period, the numbers of non-aboriginal people dropped by about eight per cent in the Yukon, stayed about the same in the Northwest Territories, and grew by 11 per cent in Nunavut.

Analysts with Statistics Canada cited high birth rates, as well as more people identifying themselves as aboriginal, for rising aboriginal populations across the country.

The aboriginal populations across the North were centred in cities such as Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. And across the North, they are young — the median ages for aboriginal northerners are:

  • Nunavut: 20 years old
  • N.W.T.: 26 years old
  • Yukon: 30 years old

The census figures also found that generally, aboriginal and Inuit children across the North were more likely than non-aboriginal people to be in lone-parent families, live in crowded homes, and live in homes needing major repairs.