Friday, September 19, 2014
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Aboriginal baby boom sees young, surging population

Gloria Galloway

Ottawa — The Globe and Mail

The baby boom that is creating a burgeoning and increasingly activist generation of young First Nations, Metis and Inuit people is born out in the first report of the national survey of the Canadian population conducted two years ago.

Canada’s aboriginal population increased by 20.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011, compared to an increase of 5.2 per cent in the non-aboriginal population, according to the first report of the National Household Survey of 2011 which was released Wednesday.

The voluntary survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, is not expected to be as accurate as its predecessors but should accurately reflect broad shifts in the makeup of the population. Statistics Canada has warned that the voluntary responses to the new survey may under-represent Aboriginal peoples. Plus, comparisons with the past are problematic, since previous questionnaires were mandatory. And a variety of reserves refused to participate or simply couldn’t participate at all, compounding the data quality issues.

The indigenous population is young.

Children under the age of 14 accounted for 28 per cent of the total number of aboriginal people in the survey. That compares to just 16.5 per cent for the non-aboriginal population.

In all, aboriginal children made up 7 per cent of all children in Canada in 2011.

And while the percentage of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the non-aboriginal population was 13 per cent, it was more than 18 per cent among aboriginals.

Among the Inuit – the youngest of the three indigenous groups – the median age was 23.

But aboriginal kids lead different lives to those who are born into non-aboriginal families.

While three in four non-aboriginal children live with both of their parents, less than half of aboriginal children share a home with their mother and father. They are twice as likely to live in a single-parent household.

And almost half of all children living in foster care in 2011 were Aboriginal.

About one in six Metis, Inuit and First Nations people could converse in a traditional language in 2011. That was down from more than one in five over the past five years.

But more children seem to be learning the languages of their ancestor in school because an increasing number reported English or French as their mother tongue with the ability to speak an aboriginal second language.

With files from the Canadian Press

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