Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
Aboriginal identity

Release date: May 3, 2017 Updated on: October 25, 2017


'Aboriginal identity' refers to whether the person identified with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This includes those who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada), and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

Statistical unit(s)



Aboriginal identity

Reported in

2016 (25% sample); 2011Note 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001 and 1996 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 18, 20 and 21


Aboriginal identity is derived from data collected in three questions: Aboriginal group (Question 18); Registered or Treaty Indian status (Question 20); and Membership in a First Nation or Indian band (Question 21). In Question 18, respondents could respond 'Yes, First Nations (North American Indian),' 'Yes, Métis,' 'Yes, Inuk (Inuit)' or 'No, not an Aboriginal person' by checking off the appropriate mark-in circle. In Question 20, respondents could respond 'No' or 'Yes, Status Indian (Registered or Treaty).' In Question 21, respondents could respond 'No' or 'Yes, member of a First Nation/Indian band.'


Aboriginal identity is a derived variable. For more information on the input variables for the Aboriginal identity variable in the 2016 Census of Population, refer to the definitions for Aboriginal group, Registered or Treaty Indian status and Membership in a First Nation or Indian band.

Users should be aware that the estimates associated with this variable are more affected than most by the incomplete enumeration of certain Indian reserves and Indian settlements in the Census of Population.

For additional information on the collection and dissemination of Aboriginal data, including incompletely enumerated reserves and settlements, refer to the Aboriginal Peoples Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016 and the Aboriginal Peoples Technical Report, Census of Population, 2016.


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