Manitoba

Manitoba's aboriginal population continues to grow

Manitoba continues to have the highest percentage of aboriginal people among Canada's provinces, and it's a growing and youthful segment of the population, according to figures from Statistics Canada's first National Household Survey.
Manitoba continues to have the highest percentage of aboriginal people among Canada's provinces, and it's a growing and youthful segment of the population, according to Statistics Canada. 1:26

Manitoba continues to have the highest percentage of aboriginal people among Canada's provinces, and it's a growing and youthful segment of the population, according to figures from Statistics Canada's first National Household Survey.

Figures from the survey, released on Wednesday, show that 16.7 per cent of Manitoba's population identified as aboriginal — four times the Canadian average of 4.3 per cent — when the survey was done in 2011.

Respondents who identified themselves as registered First Nations were in the largest group, followed by Métis.

But that's not necessarily the case within the city of Winnipeg, said Jane Badets, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.

"When you look at Winnipeg, that urban area, actually the numbers switch a little bit, or the order switches," she said.

"Métis is … the largest group, about 46,000, then it's First Nations registered, around 26,000."

Winnipeg has the largest urban First Nations and Métis populations in Canada, according to the figures.

Statistics Canada also found that the median age among the First Nations population in Manitoba is 21 years old, compared to 41 years old among non-aboriginal Manitobans.

Diverse population

Badets said Manitoba's population is also increasingly diverse, with 15.7 per cent of the province's population born in other countries.

About 31.2 per cent of immigrants living in Manitoba in 2011 were recent immigrants, meaning they came to Canada between 2006 and 2011.

Most of the immigrants in Manitoba came from the Philippines, followed by the United Kingdom and India.

The latest results come from the National Household Survey, which Statistics Canada designed, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's behest, to replace the cancelled long-form survey.

Results from the new survey, which is the first census to be voluntary, give an incomplete picture because newcomers and those living in poverty are less likely to participate, says Lori Wilkinson, a sociologist with the University of Manitoba.

"Aboriginal people are less likely to complete the census, as well, for very similar reasons to why immigrants wouldn't participate either. Some may be very difficult to find," she said.

"There's still an incredible amount of racism and inequality that aboriginal people face that prevent a lot of people who have aboriginal identity from self-identifying because it's still a problem in our society," she added.

Statistics Canada and the federal Conservative government defend the accuracy of the survey, saying 68 per cent of those asked to participate did so.