Stats Can provides snapshot of off-reserve life

Diabetes and crowded conditions continue to plague aboriginal people living off-reserve, according to a new survey released by Statistics Canada.

Diabetes and crowded conditions continue to plague aboriginal people living off-reserve, according to a new survey released by Statistics Canada.

But the study also contained good news, finding levels of education are on the rise, with more aboriginal peoples completing high school and going on to higher education.

Quick Stats

Diabetes is on the increase in aboriginal people living off-reserve across the country, being the fifth most-prevalent disease across the country. It affects mainly First Nation communities, with a slight increase in Inuit communities.

Chronic disease such as arthitis or rheumatism highest in the Yukon, followed by N.W.T. and then Nunavut.

More than 50 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 are more likely to say they're in excellent or good health. that rate is highest in the Northwest Territories at 71 per cent followed by about 66 per cent in Nunavut and the Yukon.

Most people 15 years and older believe its important to maintain their aboriginal language. with it being the highest in Nunavut at 95 per cent, followed by the Yukon then the N.W.T.

Overall, the use of aboriginal languages is slipping, except Inukitut

All three aboriginal groups made gains from the last survey in persons completing secondary school and moving to post secondary institutions: Metis 34-40 per cent; First Nations 31-36 per cent and Inuit 27-29 per cent

Aboriginal people are more likely to live in crowded condtions, although there was a slight improvement (one or more people per room) 22-17 per cent from last survey. Nunavik showed no improvement in those statistics.

Those are some of the results from the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, released by Stats Can Wednesday morning.

The study was conducted between September 2001 and June 2002, surveying about 117,000 individuals to collect information regarding the lifestyles and living conditions of off-reserve First Nations people. This first release provides an overview of health, education and living conditions of North American Indian, Metis and Inuit, living off-reserve.

More than 700,000 or 70 per cent of aboriginal people across the country live off-reserve.

Almost a fifth live in overcrowded conditions.

Overcrowding is especially a problem in the Arctic, where more than half of Inuit live in crowded conditions, meaning more than one person per room.

Northern Quebec is the hardest hit. It's the only region where the rate of crowding didn't improve.

Aboriginal leaders say the statistics show people living off-reserve need more programs and services.

The president of the national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, says the federal government puts a lot of emphasis on First Nation communities living on reserves.

Jose Kusugak says the release shows aboriginal groups living off-reserve need more attention.

A policy analyst for the National Association of Friendship Centres agreed, saying poverty amongst urban aboriginal people is a national disgrace.

Alfred Gay called on the federal government to improve programs and services for aboriginal peoples living off-reserve.

Initial results from the aboriginal peoples survey also show rates are rising for diabetes, especially in the North American Indian population.

It's being diagnosed at younger ages, is more severe when diagnosed and there are high rates of complications.

Still, more than 50 per cent of non-reserve aboriginal people report excellent or very good health.

A majority of respondents feel aboriginal languages are important, but their use is slipping, mainly among North American Indians, where only one-third of those 15 years and over living off-reserve could speak or understand their language.

The Inuit language, Inuktitut, remains one of the most vibrant aboriginal languages in Canada with 90 per cent of Inuit over 15 saying they could understand or speak it.

Education levels are on the rise among northern American Indian, Metis and Inuit. More people are completing high school and continuing on to post-secondary education.

Drop-out rates remain a concern with boredom being cited as the main reason young people leave school.