Manitoba

1 in 5 Manitobans will be aboriginal by 2036: StatsCan

The indigenous population in Canada is growing and projected to swell to as many as 2.6 million people by 2036, a new report by Statistics Canada says.
Canada's aboriginal population is growing faster than the population as a whole, Statistics Canada reports. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

The indigenous population in Canada is growing and projected to swell to as many as 2.6 million people by 2036, a new report by Statistics Canada says.

The agency projects one in five people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be aboriginal by 2036 — welcome news to Diane Redsky, executive director of Winnipeg's Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. The organization works to support and rebuild aboriginal families in the city.

"I couldn't be more excited about the news. This is really going to change the landscape in the City of Winnipeg," Redsky said.

We're going to see more indigenous people in leadership roles, more teachers, more in government- Diane Redsky , Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre

The indigenous population in Canada is projected to grow between 1.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent annually between 2011 and 2036, compared to 0.9 per cent for the general Canadian population, said Statistics Canada.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan were singled out as the two provinces with the highest proportion of aboriginal people in the country.

The growth is driven by a higher birth rate among indigenous people and an increase in people self-identifying as aboriginal, the agency said.

Statistics Canada released a report on the country's growing aboriginal population on Thursday. (CBC)

"We see children as gifts from the Creator," Redsky said.

The growing aboriginal population presents a major opportunity for Manitoba, she said. 

"We're going to see more indigenous people in leadership roles, more teachers, more in government," she said. "It's really going to have a positive impact."

Winnipeg was singled out as racist in a Maclean's magazine article earlier this year, with aboriginal residents talking about overt prejudice they've faced. Manitoba has also struggled to deal with issues such as a high aboriginal child poverty rate and poor conditions on First Nations, among other issues.

Redsky said the Ma Mawi Wi centre alone supports approximately 25,000 individuals in Winnipeg. Inclusion is key to insuring the next generation of indigenous children thrive, she said.

"As a community we need to be included in our systems and throughout what happens in Winnipeg," she said. "Until that happens we will continue to be marginalized. ... Our children need to be proud of who they are."

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