Inuit population shifting

OTTAWA, Ont.-More Inuit live in southern Canada and more of these Inuit are living in urban centres, said a Statistics Canada survey on Indigenous population growth in Canada.

In 2021, 15.3 per cent of Inuit lived in a large urban centre, up from 13 per cent in 2016, Statistics Canada found.

Its survey found three urban centres had an Inuit population of more than 1,000: Ottawa–Gatineau (1,730), Edmonton (1,290) and Montreal (1,130).

The survey also found 920 Inuit living in St. John's, 690 in Yellowknife, 590 in Toronto and 495 in Winnipeg. 

"The numbers for Ottawa are low," said Amanda Kilabuk, the executive director of Tunngasuvingat Inuit (TI), the Ottawa-based Inuit-specific urban services provider.

Many Inuit in the city also have multiple Indigenous identities, such as Cree and Inuit, whose numbers weren't included in this survey, she said.

While those numbers will probably not change the overall population figures, the survey will show where the Inuit have gone, though numbers of those temporarily staying or receiving services in an urban area probably will not be reflected,

The study showed that in 2021, 70,545 Inuit lived in Canada, with just over two-thirds living in Inuit Nunangat.

More than two in five Inuit-30,865 people-were living in Nunavut in 2021, where Inuit make up 85.8 per cent of the population. But nearly one in three Inuit-21,850-including 455 Inuit foster children, now live outside Inuit Nunangat.

That's a big change since 2016, when 72.8 per cent of Inuit or about three in four lived in Inuit Nunangat, "reflecting the faster growth of the Inuit population living outside Inuit Nunangat," the survey said.

The survey found that the Inuit population living outside Inuit Nunangat is increasing at a much faster pace than the population within the Inuit homeland: 23.6 per cent versus 2.9 per cent.

Statistics Canada did not look study reasons behind the shift, but noted that Inuit who live in crowded housing are mainly those living in Inuit Nunangat, where they are more than four times as likely to live in crowded housing as Inuit living outside Inuit Nunangat (52.9 per cent versus 11.4 per cent).

The share of Inuit living in a low-income household was similar for those living in Inuit Nunangat (16.5 per cent) and those living outside Inuit Nunangat (16.8 per cent).

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