Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
Membership in a First Nation or Indian band

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


'Membership in a First Nation or Indian band' refers to whether or not a person is a member of a First Nation or Indian band. An Indian band is defined as a body of Indians for whose collective use and benefit lands have been set apart or money is held by the Crown, or who have been declared to be a band for the purpose of the Indian Act. Many Indian bands have elected to call themselves a First Nation and have changed their band name to reflect this. With the 1985 amendment to the Indian Act of Canada (Bill C-31), many Indian bands exercised the right to establish their own membership code, whereby it was not always necessary for a band member to be a Registered Indian according to the Indian Act.

Statistical unit(s)



Membership in a First Nation or Indian band

Reported in

2016 (25% sample); 2011Note 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996 and 1991 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 21


Respondents could reply 'Yes, member of a First Nation/Indian band' or 'No' by checking off the appropriate mark-in circle in Question 21. If a respondent replied 'Yes, member of a First Nation/Indian band,' they were asked to specify the name of their First Nation or Indian Band.


The 2016 Census of Population Membership in a First Nations or Indian band question asked "Is this person a member of a First Nation/Indian Band?" and the following notes were provided: If 'Yes,' which First Nation/Indian band? For example, Musqueam Indian Band, Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Atikamekw of Manawan.

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. Furthermore, estimates for specific First Nations and Indian Bands reflect self-reported responses to the Census question and may differ from the administrative records collected by the First Nations and Indian Bands themselves.

As a result, users of the detailed First Nation/Indian band data from the 2016 Census should be aware that these data should not be used as official estimates of the First Nations and Indian bands in Canada. Users should refer to the individual First Nations or Indian Bands for counts of their members. For more information on the First Nations and Indian bands in Canada, refer to First Nations Profiles, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Data on detailed First Nation/Indian band membership from the 2016 Census will be available by request only.

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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