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2006 Census: Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in 2006: Inuit, Métis and First Nations, 2006 Census

Reduction in crowding; no change in proportion of homes needing major repairs

Over the past decade, the share of Aboriginal people living in crowded homes has declined. In 2006, 11% of Aboriginal people lived in homes with more than one person per room, down from 17% in 1996. At the same time, nearly one in four lived in homes requiring major repairs in 2006, unchanged from 1996. (The need for major repairs was in the judgement of respondents.)

The share of non-Aboriginal people living in crowded homes or in dwellings in need of major repairs was about the same in 2006 as it was in 1996. In 2006, 3% of non-Aboriginal people lived in crowded homes (unchanged from 1996). About 7% lived in dwellings that required major repairs, down marginally from 8% in 1996.

Overall, Aboriginal people were almost four times as likely as non-Aboriginal people to live in a crowded dwelling. They were three times as likely to live in a dwelling in need of major repairs.

Housing characteristics varied greatly from one Aboriginal group to another as well as within Aboriginal groups. For instance, conditions can be very different for Inuit people living in the North, for First Nations people living on and off reserve, and for Métis people living in urban areas as opposed to rural areas.

More detailed analysis of these housing conditions is included in subsequent sections of this report that focus on each of the three Aboriginal groups.

Crowding and need for dwelling repairs more common in western cities

The proportion of Aboriginal people living in crowded dwellings or in dwellings in need of major repair was substantially higher in western urban centres.

In particular, Aboriginal people living in Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton were four to eleven times more likely to live in crowded conditions than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. In contrast, Aboriginal people living in Montréal, Ottawa ‑ Gatineau, Vancouver and Toronto were in fact less likely than non-Aboriginal people to live in crowded homes.

Across all major census metropolitan areas, Aboriginal people were two to three times more likely than the non-Aboriginal population to live in dwellings needing major repairs.

Table 5 Percentage of population living in crowded dwellings and in dwellings in need of major repairs, Canada and selected cities, 2006

Aboriginal people somewhat more likely to move

The vast majority of Aboriginal people (81%) lived at the same address at the time of the 2006 Census as they had one year earlier, roughly the same proportion as non-Aboriginal people (86%). Aboriginal people who had moved were more likely to have moved within their census subdivision1 (11%) than to have relocated from a different community.

In the year prior to the census, 12% of Aboriginal people moved to a new home within the same census subdivision, compared with 8% of the non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal people were also slightly more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to have relocated to their current address from a different community (8% versus 5%).

When asked on the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey why they moved to their current city, town or community, respondents most commonly cited the reasons family, work or better housing.2

Undercoverage of the Aboriginal population

The objective of the census is to provide detailed information, at a single point in time, on the demographic, social and economic conditions of the population of Canada. During collection of information from the entire population on Census Day, a small percentage is inevitably not counted. This occurs when a household does not receive a census questionnaire or when people are missed in partially enumerated households. Also, some individuals may be missed because they have no usual residence, or because they did not spend the night of Census Day in any dwelling. This is termed 'undercoverage.'

Undercoverage in the 2006 Census was considerably higher among Aboriginal people than among other segments of the population due to the fact that enumeration was not permitted, or was interrupted before it could be completed, on 22 Indian reserves and settlements. These geographic areas are called 'incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and settlements.' Data are not available for incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and settlements, and these Indian reserves and settlements are not included in tabulations. While the impact of the missing data tends to be small for national-level and most provincial/territorial-level statistics, it can be significant for some smaller areas.

Most of the people living on incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and settlements are Registered Indians. Consequently, the impact of incomplete enumeration will be greatest on data for First Nations people and for persons registered under the Indian Act.


  1. A census subdivision (CSD) is an area that is a municipality or an area that is deemed to be equivalent to a municipality for statistical reporting purposes (e.g., an Indian reserve or an unorganized territory). Municipal status is defined by laws in effect in each province and territory in Canada. A CSD is also referred to as a community in this report.
  2. Statistics Canada. 2003. Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001 – Initial Findings: Well-being of the Non-reserve Aboriginal Population. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 89‑589‑XIE.

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