Indigenous People of Canada

September 22, 2021

In this very brief article, a few definitions and demographic data on the indigenous people residing in Canada is presented.


In Canada, the term Indigenous people (or Aboriginal people) refers to First Nations (Indians), Métis, and Inuit people. These are the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada. The Inuit primarily inhabit the northern regions of Canada. Their homeland, known as Inuit Nunangat, includes much of the land, water, and ice contained in the Arctic region. Métis people are of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry and live mostly in the Prairie provinces and Ontario, but also in other parts of the country. First Nations people were the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada, often occupying territories south of the Arctic.

Indigenous people have been in Canada since time immemorial. They formed complex social, political, economic, and cultural systems before Europeans came to North America. Though severely threatened and in certain cases extinguished by European colonial forces, Indigenous culture, language, and social systems have shaped the development of Canada and continue to grow and thrive despite extreme adversity.


In the 2016 census by Statistics Canada, over 1.6 million (1,673,785) people in Canada identified as Indigenous, making up 4.9% of the national population. The First Nations population numbered 977,230, the Métis population was 587,545, and the Inuit population reached 65,025.1 Aboriginal people are the fastest growing and the youngest population in Canada about 44% were under the age of 25 in 2016.2 In fact, the Indigenous population in Canada is growing steadily; since 2006, it has grown by 42.5%, more than four times the growth rate of the non-Indigenous population. Statistics Canada has projected that in the next 20 years, the Indigenous population will likely grow to more than 2.5 million people. The changes in population reflect increased life expectancy, high birth rates, and more people identifying as Indigenous in the 2016 census.1

In the next articles, we will find out more about the indigenous communities in Canada and their regional and cultural diversity.

  1. 2021. Indigenous People in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 February 2021].
  2. 2021. Indigenous people and communities. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 February 2021].