Canada’s Inuit population could climb to 100,000 by 2041, according to new projections by Statistics Canada.

There were an estimated 67,000 Inuit in the country based on the 2016 census.

The latest calculations show a range from 92,000 to 101,000 Inuit by 2041. That would represent 3.2 per cent to 3.7 per cent of Canada’s total Indigenous population.

Growth of the Inuit population is an expected 1.2 per cent to 1.6 per cent per year for the next two decades, which significantly outpaces the one per cent annual growth expected for the country’s non-Indigenous population.

It’s expected that 74 per cent to 74.6 per cent of Inuit will live within Inuit Nunangat in 2041. That’s a slight increase from 2016, when 72.7 per cent of Inuit inhabited Nunavut, Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador) and the Inuvialuit region of the Northwest Territories.

At 44,000 to 48,000, Nunavut is projected to remain the Canadian jursidiction with the largest Inuit population in Canada as of 2041. The Inuit growth rate in Nunavut is projected to range from 1.4 per cent to 1.7 per cent annually over the next 20 years. That’s similar to the rate expected in Nunavik (1.4 per cent to 1.8 per cent) and the Inuvialuit region (1.5 per cent to 1.9 per cent), but would far exceed the 0.1 per cent to 0.5 per cent growth rate anticipated in Nunatsiavut.

Statistics Canada noted that the projections are based on the 2016 census, when people were able to self-identify as Inuit. The 2021 census — still being analyzed — will be able to offer a more detailed breakdown due to more specific questions and categories, such as enrolment under and Inuit land claims agreement.

The median age among Inuit remains substantially younger than the rest of Canada. In 2016, the median age stood at 24.6 years for Inuit compared to 41.4 for non-Indigenous Canadians. The next two decades are expected to close that gap somewhat with Inuit projected to range from 30 years to 31.8 years, by median age, compared to 44.7 years among the non-Indigenous population. Statistics Canada states that the increase in the median age among Inuit will be due to increased life expectancy.

Overall, Canada’s Indigenous population — inclusive of Inuit, First Nations and Metis — is projected to grow to 2,495,000 by 2041 under the low-growth scenario, or 2,848,000 under the medium-growth scenario, or as many as 3,182,000 under the high-growth scenario. All represent a major jump from the 1.8 million Indigenous people recognized through the 2016 census.

Even though international immigration will contribute to the increase in Canada’s non-Indigenous population, the number of Indigenous people is expected to grow faster by the year 2041. It’s projected that Indigenous Canadians will represent 5.4 per cent to 6.8 per cent of the country’s population in 2041, compared to five per cent in 2016.

Higher fertility rates and a rising number of people self-identifying as Indigenous are the two primary factors underlying the higher growth rate among Indigenous peoples, according to Statistics Canada.

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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