Friday, April 11, 2008

Canadian First Nations and the Canadian Census

Originally Posted February 2008

This is a follow-up comment on my original U.S. Census blog posted 2007-04-10, “The U.S. Census and American Indians”.

Recent Canadian census results resemble those of the United States in that there has been an increased in the Canadian Aboriginal population that does not match reasonable factual explanations. This population has increased 45 percent between 1996 and 2006. One of the causes, like in the United States, is the large numbers who are counted as “self-identified“. And, like the U.S. Census, the skewed results have a negative impact on the way resources are allocated to benefit the Canadian First Nation population.
Unlike Indian organizations in the U.S., the Assembly of First Nations has identified the implications of the misleading census figures and has challenged the Canadian method. Dan Wilson, representative of the Assembly, has correctly stated: “There’s really no way of validating claims of self-identity. They could be anyone.”

Besides the misallocation of resources, an additional concern raised by Wilson is that the inclusion of self identified “Aboriginals” and the method of counting the population is that “We’ve got First Nation communities that in the next few years potentially will have all their people deregistered because of definitions that government imposes on our people as to who is First Nation and who isn’t.” As with the U.S. Government, Canadian officials make “Indians” out of those who self-identify as such, with any other requirement.

While an increase in the American Indian and Canadian First Nations population can be expected because of better birth and health care, this alone cannot explain the fast expansion. The Canadian Aboriginal population is growing more than 3.5 times faster than the non-Aboriginal population. Canadian officials claim that part of the increase is because census enumerators had better co-operation from some reserves during the census. Yet, 22 First Nations, including Canada’s largest Mohawk communities, shunned the 2006 census process because of the way it was conducted. On another 166 First Nations, at least one-quarter of residents weren’t counted.

Hopefully, the day will soon come that organizations in the U.S. that represent the American Indian will also wake up and challenge the Census process instead of accepting the data that is being spoon fed. There is a reason that both the U.S. and Canadian governments skew the Native population figures deliberately, and I guarantee that is not for the benefit of the legitimate Native North American.

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