Discussion Paper no. 03-05


Toward the end of the 20th century, the number of persons reporting Aboriginal ancestry in the Canadian Census increased in a rather dramatic manner. For example, in the 2001 Canadian Census, over 1.3 million Canadians reported an Aboriginal origin, which is an increase of about 20 percent over the previous census in 1996. Given that much confusion and inadequate information characterises public discussions of the demographics of Canada’s Aboriginal population, this paper will review the most fundamental data sources and definitions that have been used in documenting the characteristics of this population, as well as outline some of the most fundamental obstacles to be faced in enacting meaningful quantitative research in this context.