OTTAWA - Aboriginal peoples are gaining ground in Canada's population, but they are losing their languages.
And their family structure is dramatically different than other Canadian families, with less than half of children living with both their parents.
The rest are in single-parent homes, living with relatives or step-parents, or in foster homes. Indeed, half the foster children in Canada under the age of 14 are aboriginal, according to the National Household Survey.
The survey is Statistics Canada's replacement for the long-form census, which was cancelled in 2010 by the federal Conservatives. The agency has warned that the voluntary responses to the new survey may under-represent Aboriginal Peoples. Plus, comparisons with the past are problematic, since previous questionnaires were mandatory.
And a variety of reserves refused to participate or simply couldn't participate at all, compounding the data quality issues.
Still, Statcan has adjusted for those problems, and the survey clearly portrays a population that is youthful and growing quickly across the country — a pattern that could vindicate the focus of federal, provincial and aboriginal leaders on education and skills.
Children under 14 make up 28 per cent of the aboriginal population, compared to just 16.5 per cent of the non-aboriginal population, the National Household Survey shows.
But other research suggests fewer than half of those children will graduate from high school.
And even as the aboriginal population soared by 20 per cent over the past five years to 1.4 million, just 17 per cent of aboriginal people said they could speak in an aboriginal language, down from the 21 per cent recorded in the 2006 census.
There are signs, however, that schooling in traditional languages helps. In 2011, 240,815 aboriginal people said they could speak an aboriginal language, but only 202,495 said it was their mother tongue.
"This implies that a number of aboriginal people have acquired an aboriginal language as a second language," the Statistics Canada documents say.
The survey does not show how bad overcrowding is — even though federal statisticians have a lot of related information. The 2011 census measured the number of people per household, and the NHS also tracked the relationship between aboriginal children and their primary caregivers.
Overcrowding was the reason behind the state of emergency in Attawapiskat, Ont., 18 months ago. The 2006 census showed a decline in overcrowding, but no progress on replacing dilapidated housing.
More 2011 data on overcrowding in reserves may come this summer, said senior census analyst Jane Badets.
Ontario recorded the largest aboriginal population. By proportion, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories had the largest share of aboriginal peoples.
Among First Nations people, nearly half live on a reserve or settlement. Beyond reserves, status First Nations people tended to live in Winnipeg, Edmonton or Vancouver as well as other cities.
Non-status Indians accounted for a quarter of the First Nations population in Canada, concentrated in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.
Related on HuffPost:
CP — Statistics Canada released the first tranche of results Wednesday from the 2011 voluntary National Household Survey, which replaced the cancelled mandatory long-form census. The survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census cancelled by the Harper Conservatives in 2010, is filled with warnings that the data may not be as accurate, given the survey's voluntary nature. HIGHLIGHTS:
Nation Of Immigrants
Canada was home to an estimated 6,775,800 immigrants in 2011, comprising 20.6 per cent of the population — more than ever before and the highest proportion of all G8 countries.
Aboriginal Population Growth
Canada's aboriginal population grew by 20.1 per cent — 232,385 people — between 2006 and 2011, compared with 5.2 per cent for non-aboriginal people. 1,400,685 people identified themselves as aboriginal in 2011, representing 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population. Aboriginal Peoples accounted for 3.8 per cent of the population in 2006, 3.3 per cent in 2001 and 2.8 per cent in 1996.
Almost half (48.1 per cent) of all children aged 14 and under in foster care in Canada in 2011 were aboriginal children.
Aboriginal children aged 14 and under made up 28 per cent of Canada's total aboriginal population, while their non-aboriginal counterparts represented 16.5 per cent of all non-aboriginals.
Only 17.2 per cent of aboriginals reported being able to conduct a conversation in an aboriginal language, compared with 21 per cent in the 2006 census.
About 1,162,900 foreign-born people immigrated to Canada between 2006 and 2011, making up 17.2 per cent of the foreign-born population and 3.5 per cent of Canada's total population.
More than 200 different ethnic origins were reported in the 2011 survey, with 13 of them representing more than a million people each.
Nearly 6,264,800 people identified themselves as a visible minority, representing 19.1 per cent of the population. 65 per cent of them were born outside Canada.
South Asians, Chinese and blacks accounted for 61.3 per cent of the visible minority population, followed by Filipinos, Latin Americans, Arabs, Southeast Asians, West Asians, Koreans and Japanese.
More than 22.1 million people — two-thirds of Canadians — said they were affiliated with a Christian religion, including 12.7 million Roman Catholics, the largest single group.
7.8 million people, 23.9 per cent of the population, reported having no religious affiliation.
Slightly more than one million people, or 3.2 per cent of the population, identified themselves as Muslim, while Hindus represented 1.5 per cent, Sikhs 1.4 per cent, Buddhists 1.1 per cent and Jews one per cent.
NEXT: Highlights Of 2011 Census
Highlights Of The 2011 Census
Here are some highlights from the 2011 Canadian Census. With files from <em>The Canadian Press</em>. (AFP/Getty Images)
As of May 2011, 33,476,688 people were enumerated in Canada, nearly twice as many as in 1961 and 10 times the number in 1861. (Alamy)
Population Growth Speeds Up
Canada's population grew by 5.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, up slightly from 5.4 per cent during the previous five years. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtbradford/" target="_hplink">Flickr: jtbradford</a>)
For the first time, more people in Canada live west of Ontario (30.7 per cent) than in Quebec and Atlantic Canada combined (30.6 per cent). (Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/derekgavey/" target="_hplink">derekGavey</a>)
We're Number One
Canada's population growth between 2006 and 2011 was the highest among G8 countries. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33498942@N04/" target="_hplink">Flickr: WarmSleepy</a>)
Exceptions To The Rule
Every province and most territories saw their population increase between 2006 and 2011; the rate of growth increased everywhere except in Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (AP)
The growth rate in Ontario declined to 5.7 per cent, its lowest level since the early 1980s. (Alamy)
Saskatchewan Out Of The Red
Population growth in Saskatchewan hit 6.7 per cent, compared with a negative growth rate of 1.1 per cent between 2001 and 2006; the province welcomed more than 28,000 immigrants during the latest census period, nearly three times the number of the previous five-year period. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/justaprairieboy/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Just a Prairie Boy</a>)
Yukon And Manitoba Take Off
The rate of growth in both Yukon (11.6 per cent) and Manitoba (5.2 per cent) has doubled since 2006. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/us_mission_canada/" target="_hplink">Flickr: US Mission Canada</a>)
The East Is Growing Too
The rate of growth in Prince Edward Island (3.2 per cent), New Brunswick (2.9 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1.8 per cent) has increased substantially between 2006 and 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jw1697/" target="_hplink">Flickr JaimeW</a>)
Nearly seven of every 10 Canadians lived in one of Canada's 33 main urban centres in 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/markwoodbury" target="_hplink">Flickr mark.woodbury</a>)
.. Except Not In Ontario..
The rate of population growth in almost all census metropolitan areas located in Ontario slowed between 2006 and 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/husseinabdallah/" target="_hplink">Flickr abdallahh</a>)
Maybe Because Everyone Moved To Alberta
Of the 15 Canadian communities with the highest rates of growth, 10 were located in Alberta. (AFP/Getty Images)