Release and Concepts Overview
2016 Census of Population:
Aboriginal peoples

Release date: August 31, 2017

1. Objectives

Census of Population release topics will be accompanied by their own Release and Concepts Overview and will be available from Statistics Canada's website in advance of each release.

The purpose of the Release and Concepts Overview series is to provide an overview of:

  • the concepts, definitions and key indicators used by each of the major 2016 Census of Population releases

  • the products that will be available on each major day of release and later.

The Release and Concepts Overview series will help partners, stakeholders and other data users to better understand the information being released.

This Release and Concepts Overview is for the Aboriginal peoples release which will be on October 25, 2017.

The information provided in this overview is subject to change.

2. Concepts and definitions: Aboriginal Peoples

Aboriginal peoples

Population universe

Data on Aboriginal peoples are reported for the population in private households.

Aboriginal identity

Notes: Statistics Canada typically uses the concept of Aboriginal identity in tabular and analytical products based on census data. However, there are various ways to define the Aboriginal population using data from the 2016 Census of Population depending on the focus and the requirements of the data user.

The term “Aboriginal” was used in the 2016 Census questionnaire to refer to First Nations people, Métis and Inuit living in Canada. This term is used throughout related census products. Statistics Canada is currently in the process of developing a consultation and testing strategy to determine the terminology that will be used when referring to these populations in the next census and in future surveys.

Aboriginal group

Registered or Treaty Indian status

Membership in a First Nation or Indian band

Residence inside or outside Inuit Nunangat

Residence on or off reserve

Aboriginal ancestry


In addition to making data available for Canada, the following other levels of geography will be available:

  1. Province or territory
  2. Census metropolitan area (CMA)
  3. Census agglomeration (CA)
  4. Census division (CD)
  5. Census subdivision (CSD)
  6. Census tract (CT)
  7. Population centre (POPCTR)
  8. Statistical Area Classification (SAC)
  9. Federal electoral district (FED)
  10. Economic region (ER)
  11. Forward sortation area (FSA)©
  12. Designated place (DPL)
  13. Aggregate dissemination area (ADA) (new!)
  14. Dissemination area (DA)

3. Key indicators

Population counts

  • Number of people enumerated in the 2016 Census of Population.
  • Aboriginal population counts are based on the Aboriginal identity concept.
  • Aboriginal population counts are reported for the population in private households.

Example: There were 1,172,790 Aboriginal people enumerated in the 2006 Census.

Population growth

  • Difference in percentage between the population enumerated in two census years.
  • Several factors should be taken into account when assessing Aboriginal population growth between census cycles. Among these are differences in survey methodology, changes to the wording and format of Aboriginal questions, legislative changes and differences in the list of incompletely enumerated reserves. In addition, some people, for a variety of reasons, report their Aboriginal identity differently from one data collection period to another.

Example: Between 1996 and 2006, Canada's Aboriginal population grew by 45%.

Population share

  • Proportion in percentage of a subpopulation within a larger population.

Example: Aboriginal people represented 3.8% of Canada's total population in the 2006 Census.

4. Products and activities available with this release

The following will be available with the Aboriginal peoples release on October 25, 2017:

  • Analytical products
    • The Daily article
    • Census in Brief
    • Infographic
  • Data products
    • Highlight tables
    • Data tables
    • Census Profile
    • Focus on Geography Series
  • Geography products
    • GeoSearch

  • Reference products
    • Release and Concepts Overview series
    • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016
    • Census Dictionary
    • Aboriginal Peoples Reference Guide
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Chat with an expert (on October 30, 2017)

The following provides additional details on some key products to be available at the time of the Aboriginal peoples release. Together, they will provide main findings, important messages, latest trends and additional background information.

  • The Daily article: This will include population counts for the total Aboriginal identity population, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit population counts specifically. The Daily will also discuss the average age of the Aboriginal identity population, and growth in the population since 1996.

  • Census in Brief: Three short articles will provide analyses focusing on current population issues involving challenges that are relevant from a public policy perspective:

    • Housing conditions of Aboriginal people in Canada
    • Aboriginal languages of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit
    • Diverse family characteristics of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 4
  • Infographic: This will allow users to quickly visualize some key findings from the 2016 Census of Population. It will provide a quick guide to the age structure and growth of the Aboriginal population, and a summary of Aboriginal languages spoken in Canada.

  • Highlight tables: They present focused information for various levels of geography. These tables allow users to perform simple rank and sort functions and include percentage distributions and percentage changes from previous censuses to facilitate comparisons between years, and different geographic areas.

  • Data tables: These cross-tabulations allow for a more detailed examination of Canada, by comparing up to eight variables across various levels of geography.

  • Census Profile: This product provides key statistics about the dwellings and the people living there. Users are able to select a standard geographic area and compare two geographic areas. They can search by place name or postal code for an area of interest as large as Canada or as small as a grouping of city blocks.

  • Focus on Geography Series: This product presents highlights through short text, tables and figures for various release topics and levels of geography, including Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and Canadian municipalities (census subdivisions).

  • Aboriginal Peoples Reference Guide: This guide explains census concepts and definitions. It also includes information about data quality and historical comparability, as well as comparisons with other data sources.

  • Guide to the Census of Population, 2016: This reference document provides an overview of the 2016 Census of Population processes, including content determination, collection, processing, data quality assessment, data dissemination and data suppression. It also includes response rates, global non-response rates, the distribution of the number of census subdivisions for which data have been published by province and territory and at the national level, as well as other data quality information.

    The majority of the content was released with the population and dwelling counts release. Additional content will be added with subsequent releases.

  • Census Dictionary: This provides detailed definitions of census concepts, variables and geographic terms, as well as historical information to facilitate the comparison between census years.

    Content is released cumulatively through to November 2017, with the majority of the definitions released on May 3, 2017.

Social media activities with this release

  • Facebook and Twitter: The official social media accounts will also be used to communicate and engage with the public for the dissemination of results from the 2016 Census of Population.

  • Chat with an expert: Users are invited to chat with Statistics Canada experts on the topics of Aboriginal peoples and Housing on October 30, 2017, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Eastern time. For more information, refer to Statistics Canada's website: Chat with an expert.

5. Products available after release

The following products will be available with later releases:

Analytical products

  • Articles in Insights on Canadian Society (ICS)
  • Data visualization tool. More information about this initiative will be made available during the release cycle.

Data products

  • Additional data tables at various levels of geography
  • 2016 Census Aboriginal Population Profile
  • 2016 Census Individuals Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Hierarchical Public Use Microdata File (PUMF)
  • 2016 Census Long-form Research Data Centre (RDC) Microdata File

Reference products

  • Reference guides (various topics)
  • Technical reports

6. 2016 Census Program web module

To access the 2016 Census of Population products, please consult the 2016 Census Program web module.

7. 2016 Census Program release schedule

Release dates, 2016 Census Program
Release date Release topic
November 16, 2016 Geography
February 8, 2017 Population and dwelling counts
May 3, 2017

Age and sex

Type of dwelling

May 10, 2017 Census of Agriculture
August 2, 2017

Families, households and marital status


September 13, 2017 Income

October 25, 2017

Immigration and ethnocultural diversity


Aboriginal peoples

November 29, 2017



Journey to work

Language of work

Mobility and migration

8. Contact information

General enquiries

Media Relations – Media Hotline

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