Article. First Nations, Métis and WInuit Women. by Vivian O'Donnell and Susan Wallace. July PDF

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Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no X Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report Article First Nations, Métis and WInuit Women by Vivian O'Donnell and Susan Wallace July 2011 How to obtain more information For information about this product or the wide range of services and data available from Statistics Canada, visit our website at us at or telephone us, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the following numbers: Statistics Canada s National Contact Centre Toll-free telephone (Canada and United States): Inquiries line National telecommunications device for the hearing impaired Fax line Local or international calls: Inquiries line Fax line Depository Services Program Inquiries line Fax line To access this product This product, Catalogue no X, is available free in electronic format. To obtain a single issue, visit our website at and browse by Key resource Publications. Standards of service to the public Statistics Canada is committed to serving its clients in a prompt, reliable and courteous manner. To this end, Statistics Canada has developed standards of service that its employees observe. To obtain a copy of these service standards, please contact Statistics Canada toll-free at The service standards are also published on under About us The agency Providing services to Canadians. Statistics Canada Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report First Nations, Métis and Inuit Women Published by authority of the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada Minister of Industry, 2011 All rights reserved. The content of this electronic publication may be reproduced, in whole or in part, and by any means, without further permission from Statistics Canada, subject to the following conditions: that it be done solely for the purposes of private study, research, criticism, review or newspaper summary, and/or for non-commercial purposes; and that Statistics Canada be fully acknowledged as follows: Source (or Adapted from, if appropriate): Statistics Canada, year of publication, name of product, catalogue number, volume and issue numbers, reference period and page(s). Otherwise, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, by any means electronic, mechanical or photocopy or for any purposes without prior written permission of Licensing Services, Client Services Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0T Catalogue no X ISBN Frequency: Occasional Ottawa Cette publication est également disponible en français. Note of appreciation Canada owes the success of its statistical system to a long-standing partnership between Statistics Canada, the citizens of Canada, its businesses, governments and other institutions. Accurate and timely statistical information could not be produced without their continued cooperation and goodwill. hapter First Nations, Métis and Inuit women by Vivian O Donnell and Susan Wallace Introduction Aboriginal women share many of the same challenges and concerns as other women in Canada. However, demographically, culturally and socio conomically, Aboriginal women are also a unique. There is also much diversity within the Aboriginal. Broadly speaking, Aboriginal people can be considered as three distinct groups: First Nations (North American Indian), Métis and Inuit. Within each of these groups are many distinct cultural groups. This chapter will explore some of the unique characteristics of the Aboriginal female, and examine how things have been changing over time. Aboriginal definition There are various ways to define the Aboriginal depending on the focus and the requirements of the data user. This article focuses on the Aboriginal identity. Aboriginal identity refers to those persons who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuit, and/or those who reported being a Treaty Indian or a Registered Indian, as defined by the Indian Act of Canada, and/or those who reported they were members of an Indian band or First Nation. Data are presented for each of the three Aboriginal identity groups: Inuit, Métis and First Nations (North American Indian). 1 In some tables, data are also presented for the Status Indian. The term First Nations is used throughout the article to refer to people who identified as North American Indian and includes both Status and non-status Indians. In this article, the Aboriginal female is also referred to as Aboriginal women and girls. 1. It was possible to report both single and multiple responses to the Aboriginal identity question. Census data used in this paper for First Nations (North American Indian), Métis and Inuit are based on the single responses only. Aboriginal Peoples Survey and Aboriginal Children s Survey data represent a combination of both the single and multiple Aboriginal identity s. As an example, the Métis data findings include those who were identified as Métis only and those identified as Métis in combination with another Aboriginal group (for example, Métis and First Nations [North American Indian]). Statistics Canada Catalogue no X 5 Women in Canada A growing In 2006, there were 600,695 Aboriginal females in Canada. Aboriginal women and girls made up 4% of the total Canadian female that year (Table 1). Table 1 Aboriginal, Canada, 2006 Females as a % Females Males Aboriginal of the Aboriginal group number % number % Total Aboriginal identity 600, , First Nations 359, , Métis 196, , Inuit 25, , Multiple Aboriginal identities 4, , Other 14, , Notes: 'First Nations' refers to those who identified as 'North American Indian' (includes both Status and non-status Indians). 'Multiple Aboriginal identities' refers to those who reported belonging to more than one Aboriginal group (First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit). 'Other' includes those who did not affiliate with an Aboriginal group but who have Registered Indian status and/or band membership. Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population, In 2006, 60% of the Aboriginal female reported being First Nations (includes both Status and non- Status Indians), while 33% were Métis and 4% were Inuit. The remaining 3% either reported belonging to more than one Aboriginal group, or they did not identify with an Aboriginal group, but reported having Registered Indian status and/or band membership (Table 1). 6 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X Table 2 Aboriginal female, by province or territory, Canada, 2006 First Nations, Métis and Inuit women Province/territory Total Aboriginal Both sexes Total Aboriginal female First Nations women and girls number Métis women and girls Inuit women and girls Other 1 Aboriginal 1 responses 1 As a % of female that is Aboriginal in each region Canada 1,172, , , ,280 25,455 18, Newfoundland and Labrador 23,450 11,930 3,945 3,305 2,350 2, Prince Edward Island 1, Nova Scotia 24,175 12,405 7,915 3, New Brunswick 17,655 9,010 6,570 1, Quebec 108,430 54,905 33,395 13,680 5,480 2, Ontario 242, ,900 82,440 36,580 1,095 4, Manitoba 175,395 89,675 51,930 36, , Saskatchewan 141,890 72,325 46,940 24, , Alberta 188,365 96,625 50,050 43, , British Columbia 196, ,215 66,390 30, , Yukon 7,580 3,915 3, Northwest Territories 20,635 10,475 6,430 1,720 2, Nunavut 24,920 12, , The category 'Other Aboriginal responses' includes those who reported belonging to more than one Aboriginal group (First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit) and those who did not affiliate with an Aboriginal group but who have Registered Indian status and/or band membership. Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population, The female Aboriginal is growing much more rapidly than the rest of the female in Canada. In the period from 1996 to 2006, the number of Aboriginal females rose by 45%, compared to a 9% growth rate in the non-aboriginal female. 2 Of the three groups of Aboriginal women, the Métis increased the most from 1996 to 2006: a growth of 91% growth for Métis, 30% for First Nations, and 27% for Inuit. The growth of the Métis is due not only to factors such as high birth rates and improved enumeration, but also because an increasing number of people are newly reporting Métis identity. (See the text box: Ethnic mobility and the growth of the Métis.) As with the overall, women make up the slight majority of Aboriginal people in Canada. In 2006, women made up 51% of the total Aboriginal. That year, 52% of the total First Nations in Canada was female, while the figure was around 50% for both the Métis and Inuit groups (Table 1). 2. When comparisons are made to 1996, 2006 data have been adjusted to account for the addition of some Indian reserves and settlements that were incompletely enumerated in That is, only those Indian reserves that were enumerated in both census years (2006 and 1996) were included. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X 7 Women in Canada Ethnic mobility and the growth of the Métis It is clear that increasing numbers of Canadians are newly reporting Aboriginal identity on the census over time. This phenomenon is captured by the term ethnic mobility. The concept of ethnic mobility has been identified as a major contributor to the high growth rate of the Aboriginal in general and the Métis in particular. 3 It is difficult to identify precisely the reasons that more people are identifying as Métis over time. One factor may include increased awareness of Métis issues as a result of recent judicial decisions regarding the Aboriginal rights of the Métis (for example, the Supreme Court of Canada s decision in R. v. Powley, 2003). Indian status The Indian Act defines an Indian as 'a person who, pursuant to this Act, is registered as an Indian or is entitled to be registered as an Indian.' The federal government maintains an official list of Status Indians called the Indian Register. Status Indians are entitled to certain rights and benefits under the law. In 2006, a majority of those who identified as First Nations people were registered under the Indian Act. In 2006, almost 292,000 First Nations females, 81% of the total, were registered, as were 81% of First Nations males. The remaining First Nations people who do not have Registered Indian status are often referred to as non- Status Indians. Because Registered Indian status is a legal concept, the number of Status Indians has been affected by changes to legislation throughout history. For example, significant growth in the Status Indian in recent decades has been not only the result of factors such as longer life expectancy, high birth rates, and improved enumeration, but also due to legislative changes to the Indian Act (see text box: Bill C-31 and Bill C-3). In 1981, the Status Indian was 289,175. It had increased to 385,805 by 1991 and to 558,175 in In 2006, the Status Indian had reached 623,780 (Table 3) Guimond, É Fuzzy Definitions and Population Explosions: Changing Identities of Aboriginal Groups in Canada. Not Strangers in These Parts: Urban Aboriginal Peoples. D. Newhouse and E. Peters (eds.). Policy Research Initiative, p The number of Registered Indians recorded by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Indian Register differs from Statistics Canada's census counts of Registered Indians. These two data sources do not count Registered Indians in the same way or for the same purpose. The Indian Register is an administrative database, while the census is a statistical survey. For more information, see 2006 Census: A decade of comparable data on Aboriginal Peoples, 8 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X First Nations, Métis and Inuit women Table 3 Status Indian, by area of residence, Canada, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2006 Area of residence number Growth rate from 1981 to 2006 (%) On reserve 170, , , , , Female 82,220 89, , , , Male 87,835 95, , , , Off reserve 119, , , , , Female 64, , , , , Male 54,940 89, , , , Total On and off reserve 289, , , , , Female 146, , , , , Male 142, , , , , Notes: These counts are from the Census of Population. The number of Status Indians recorded by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Indian Register differs from Statistics Canada's census counts of Status Indians. These two data sources do not count Status Indians in the same way or for the same purpose. The Indian Register is an administrative database, while the census is a statistical survey. (For more information, see '2006 Census: A decade of comparable data on Aboriginal Peoples' at Note that growth rates may be affected by the improved enumeration of Indian reserves and settlements in the census over time. Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population, Projections from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) indicate that the Status Indian will continue to grow, although the rate of growth is expected to decrease over time. Decreases are expected to occur because of declining fertility and loss of registration entitlement among a growing number of descendents of Status Indians. 5 It is important to note that INAC s projections were released prior to the creation of Bill C-3: Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act (see text box: Bill C-31 and Bill C-3). 5. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Aboriginal Demography: Population, Household and Family Projections, (Catalogue: R3-62/2007), p. 24. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X 9 Women in Canada Bill C-31 and Bill C-3 The Status Indian has undergone dramatic increases in the past couple of decades. A significant part of this growth can be attributed to legislative changes. In particular, the Indian Act was amended in 1985 through Bill C-31 to redress certain provisions in the Indian Act that discriminated against women. Prior to the 1985 amendments, Status Indian women who married non-status men lost their Registered Indian status. As well, these women could no longer pass Registered Indian status on to their children. The opposite was true for Status Indian men. Non-status women who married Status Indian men were automatically conferred Indian status. 6 Bill C-31 amendments allowed many women and their children to reclaim Indian status, and, in some cases, their First Nation (band) membership. Others who had voluntarily or involuntarily lost their Indian status through other provisions of the Indian Act could also apply to have their status restored. By the end of 2002, more than 114,000 individuals had been added to the Registered Indian through these provisions. 7 Bill C-31 also introduced new inheritance rules regarding the passing of Registered Indian status from parents to children. Both parents must have Registered Indian status to pass Indian status on to their children. An exception occurs when at least one parent has been registered under section 6(1) of the legislation. In this case, if one parent is registered under 6(1) and the other parent is not registered, children remain eligible for registration under section 6(2). However, a parent registered under 6(2) cannot pass Registered Indian status to a child unless the other parent is also a Status Indian. Bill C-31 provided that the children of women who had lost status through marriage to a non-indian under the previous rules were re-instated under section 6(2). In effect, the cut-off for passing on Indian status would come a generation earlier for grandchildren of Indian women who had out-married than the grandchildren of Indian men who had out-married. A court challenge by Sharon McIvor, on the basis of equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, resulted in the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordering the Government of Canada to revise the Indian Act to include these grandchildren. The Government of Canada has created Bill C-3: Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act to make these revisions. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada estimates that as a result of this legislation approximately 45,000 persons will become newly entitled to registration Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Existing Indian Act Provisions. (accessed March 29, 2011). 7. Clatworthy, S Indian Registration, Membership, and Population Changes in First Nations Communities. Aboriginal Policy Research Volume V: Moving Forward, Making a Difference. J. P. White, S. Wingert, D. Beavon, and P. Maxim (eds.), p Indian and Northern Affairs Canada History of Bill C-3, (accessed March ). 10 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X First Nations, Métis and Inuit women Distribution of Aboriginal women across the country Of the provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the largest proportion of Aboriginal females out of the overall female s. In 2006, Aboriginal women and girls made up 16% of all females in Manitoba and 15% of all females in Saskatchewan, while the figure was 6% in Alberta, 5% in both British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and 3% or less in the remaining provinces (Table 2). Aboriginal females make up much larger shares of the living in the territories. In 2006, more than half (52%) of females in the Northwest Territories and 26% of those in the Yukon were Aboriginal women and girls. In Nunavut, 86% of women and girls were Inuit (Table 2). 9 In terms of actual numbers, however, Ontario has the largest number of Aboriginal females. In 2006, there were 124,900 Aboriginal women and girls in Ontario. That year, 21% of all Aboriginal females lived in Ontario, while 17% resided in British Columbia, 16% lived in Alberta, 15% in Manitoba, 12% in Saskatchewan, 9% in Québec, and 5% in the Atlantic Provinces. The remaining 5% of the female Aboriginal lived in one of the territories (Table 2). There is also considerable variation in the distribution of females in the different Aboriginal groups across the country. In 2006, the largest share of First Nations women and girls lived in Ontario (23%), while Alberta was home to the largest share of Métis females (22%) and almost half (48%) of Inuit women and girls lived in Nunavut. Living in census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations In Canada s census metropolitan areas (CMAs), the largest concentrations of Aboriginal females were found in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and, Regina. 10 In 2006, 10% of the total female in Winnipeg was Aboriginal, as was 9% of that in each of Saskatoon and Regina. Aboriginal women and girls also accounted for 5% of the female in Edmonton. Winnipeg had the largest number of Aboriginal women and girls. In 2006, there were almost 36,000 Aboriginal females living in Winnipeg, while there were 27,375 Aboriginal females living in Edmonton, 21,290 in Vancouver, and approximately 14,000 each in Toronto and Calgary (Chart 1). 9. A relatively small proportion (about 1%) of women and girls in Nunavut belonged to the other Aboriginal groups (First Nations and Métis). 10. A census metropolitan area (CMA) is an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major core area. A census metropolitan area must have a total of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X 11 Women in Canada Chart 1 Aboriginal in selected census metropolitan areas, Canada, 2006 Females Males Winnipeg 35,905 32,475 Edmonton 27,375 24,730 Vancouver 21,290 19,020 census metropolitan area Toronto Calgary Saskatoon Ottawa Gatineau Montréal 14,415 13,955 11,010 11,005 9,355 12,160 12,615 10,525 9,580 8,510 Regina 9,125 7,980 Victoria 5,805 5,100-10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 80,000 counts Note: A census metropolitan area (CMA) is an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major core area. A census metropolitan area must have a total of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core. Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population, In each of the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) listed in chart 1, a slight majority of Aboriginal residents were female. For example, in Toronto, 54% of Aboriginal residents were female. In Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa Gatineau, Regina
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