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State of Indigenous People in Canada


This research seeks to answer the following research question; For a particular group: what is the degree of poverty; how has this shifted over time; which members of the group are more likely to experience poverty and why; how effective are the current policies in decreasing poverty and what policies would be better. Therefore, this research intends to focus on the state of indigenous people in Canada concerning the research questions outlined above. Notably, the First Nations, Metis along with the Inuit individuals form the aboriginal people in Canada. These three groups are considered the first settlers in Canada. According to the statistical survey from the census performed in 2016, the Indigenous people present in Canada were above 1.6 million, translating to about 4.9% o the country’s population (Noel &Florence). Despite being the minority group, the indigenous people’s social systems, language and culture have played a significant role in shaping the creation of Canada. Again, the Indigenous people have also assisted in Canada’s continual growth and transformation despite the existence of extraordinary adversity.

Comparing the three Indigenous groups concerning the regional occupation in Canada, the Inuit mainly settled in the Northern parts of Canada. Likewise, the settlement of the Inuit was referred to as Inuit Nunangat, an area comprising adequate land, water, and ice from the Arctic areas. On the contrary, the Metis settled in Ontario and Prairie regions, and at present, they are mostly integrated amongst the Americans (Noel &Florence). Thirdly, the First Nations are now the authentic inhabitants of Canada, and mainly, their area o settlements are the regions of southern Artic. Accordingly, the Indian Act is a purposeful statute incorporated by the Canadian government to act on the concerns regarding the Indigenous people in Canada. Notably, this statute is very instrumental in Canada, and it divides different indigenous groups into two groups; the Status Indians and the Non-Status Indians. Status Indians have been documented within the national registries, while the Non-Status Indians form the group of undocumented people. Similarly, all the indigenous population in Canada enjoy the legal protection of their rights, which is under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982 (Neylan).

Additionally, through its departments, the federal government has a role in controlling the affairs of the Indigenous people in Canada. From the historical perspective, the Indigenous people have resided in Canada for a long time. Before the colonist, like the Europeans, reached Northern America, the indigenous people developed multiplex political, economic, cultural, and social structures. And with the Europeans colonizing them, their cultures were shifted. Some of the dominant practices of the colonialists, like; as residential schools, reserves, and the pass system, majorly interfered with the Indigenous culture to the extent that the colonial powers assimilated and took control of them (Neylan). These practices and regulations by the colonial powers integrated with racism acts of disparities attributed to the loss of their quality lands, segregation in public amenities, and lack of access to quality foods. Therefore, this paper will majorly focus on the state of the Indigenous people in America regarding the research question. The primary rationale for this topic is interesting is because it brings up the historical perspective of the Indigenous people in Canada and outlines the state of the Indigenous groups.

The Degree of Poverty amongst the Indigenous People in Canada

This section will focus on various scholarly studies reviews. The first review is on the study of Daniel Wilson and David Macdonald’s research work on “The Income Gap Between the Indigenous People and the Rest of Canada (Daniel Wilson & David Macdonald). According to the authors, the paper focuses on the three indigenous groups, namely the; Metis, Inuit, and the First People. Additionally, in the authors’ view, the earning rates of the Indigenous communities in Canada are far less than the rest of the Canadians. This, therefore, has resulted in income inequality within Canada. Part of Macdonald and Wilson’s research was meant to increase their understandability of Canada’s inequalities and the rising gap. The authors also maintain that the indigenous people are the poorest in Canada, and they live in abject poverty. Therefore, the primary purpose of MacDonald and Wilson’s paper is to explain why there is the existence of income inequality amongst the Indigenous people and the rest of the Canadians (Daniel Wilson & David Macdonald). Additionally, apart from the low-income rates, the Indigenous people also faced the following challenges: low education rates and higher percentages of unemployment. As a result, of these social challenges, the rate of imprisonment, suicide, and criminal activities became prevalent in the Indigenous communities.

This paper under review also focuses on providing various interventions that can be invoked to minimize the income gap between the Indigenous and the rest of the Canadians. There are massive inequalities in employment income amongst the Indigenous populations in Canada. This is backed up in the research of McDonald and Wilson by the present data in existence from the survey conducted in 2006 revealing the median rate of income earned by the Indigenous people in Canada. From the survey, it was evident that the income of the Indigenous merely reached $21,431the mean income level the rest of the Canadian population received. Additionally, in 2006 the median income of the Indigenous people was $ 18,135. And from the hypothetical view of the authors, for Indigenous Canadians to catch up with the rest of the population, it will take them 63 years, according to the statistical survey results (Daniel Wilson & David Macdonald). From the author’s research, they maintained that there is still the existence of inequalities among the Indigenous population themselves. Comparing the three groups’ Metis is at the top of First Nations and Inuit. And the Metis population’s median income has been closing the existing gap with the rest of the Canadian population despite the existing challenges.

Additionally, the existing disparities have led to the slow development in the regions occupied by the Indigenous population. Also, there is a lack of social amenities due to the growing income inequalities in Canada. Still, on the survey issued in 2006, the rate of Aboriginal Canadians completing education is relatively low compared to the non-Aboriginal communities (CPI.). And this, according to MacDonald and Winston, is the main reason for the current low rates of employment, which translates to low income and, therefore, high levels of poverty. Essentially, the authors summarize their studies by bringing up interventions that the government can take to close the existing gap of income inequalities to control the poverty levels of the Indigenous Canadians (Daniel Wilson & David Macdonald). The first proposed intervention by the authors is increasing assimilation amongst the Indigenous Americans by respecting their various cultures.

Assimilation as an intervention would seek to bring up educational and employment opportunities, which will, in turn, improve income levels amongst the Indigenous population. Secondly, there is also an emphasis on equitable resource sharing across Canada and ensuring inclusivity of the Indigenous people. Another review under this section is the “Measure of Poverty in Canada” by Greg DeGroot -Maggetti. Maggette raises the concern about poverty, and throughout his essay, he provides evidence relating to the poverty situation in Canada (DeGroot -Maggetti). Additionally, according to the author, poverty measures are classified into absolute and relative. Absolute poverty measures often concentrate on the absence of basic needs, while relative poverty measures concentrate on inadequacies in the mean living standards. Ultimately, the indigenous have undergone too much suffering due to their poverty.

The impact of High Poverty levels Among the Indigenous Canadians

In the review of Elaine M Power, one of the significant impacts of poverty amongst the Aboriginal people in Canada is food security. Thus, according to Power amongst the Indigenous Canadians, the issue of food-related problems results from the impacts of worldwide climatic change and environmental pollution on the natural food systems of the Indigenous Canadians (Power et al., pp 95-97). Furthermore, the European settlers’ displacement of the Indigenous people disrupted their food-generating activities. For instance, they could not practice their farming activities and perform the hunting and gathering activities they used to perform in their original settlements. As a result of the disruptions of their economic activities, the Indigenous people resorted receive aid from the government.

Similarly, the Indian Act intensified the economic vulnerabilities making it challenging for the Indigenous Canadians to engage in economic activities for the non -Aboriginal people. Alternatively, the absence of government famine relief made the Indigenous population suffer after their displacement from their originals land (Hajizadeh pp854-865). This significantly increased hunger amongst the Indigenous population in Canada. One effect of poverty amongst the Indigenous Canadians was food insecurity.

Similarly, another effect of poverty on the Indigenous populations in Canada is the lack of access to education. This is due to the prevalent disparities in the colonial error where they were displaced from their original lands of resources. And the lack of education amongst the Aboriginals has made them not to be competitive with the rest of the Canadians. This is why Indigenous Canadians lack employment and thus have low-income rates. Due to poverty, the accessibility of healthcare has been a problem amongst the Indigenous population. This is because of the low-income rates, which cannot enable them to pay for health care services when they need them (Canada Health). Secondly, this led to high children mortality amongst the Indigenous due to the lack of accessibility to appropriate healthcare. Again, poverty made the Aboriginals more dependent on the relief funds from the federal government since their economic activities were disrupted by the colonialist who forced them out of their excellent lands.

Mitigating Poverty Amongst the Indigenous Canadians

Notably, due to the suffering of the Indigenous people, there have been efforts by the respective authorities to address the concerns of the Aboriginals people. The government has also been at the forefront of the fight to bridge the gap of poverty by closing the income disparities. Reviewing Fred Wien’s paper on the mitigations to be employed in reducing the level of poverty amongst the Indigenous population (Wien). Wein incorporates the standard economic indicators for examining the depth of poverty among the Aboriginals. According to the author minimizing the rate of poverty is an arduous task, especially for the Aboriginals groups, including; Metis, First Nations, and Inuit, where the variables for creating the economic foundation are important. This is because the Indigenous people had lost a lot during the colonial error. As a result, they lost their vast lands and the resources they could access, such as water sources, fertile lands, among many others. The Indigenous Canadians also lost the culturally viable institutions of local governance they had already created. Despite the standard historical accounts of the first three Indigenous groups, the communities have many differences.

Amongst the groups, the First Nations have escaped from high poverty levels and have sustained more reliable economic foundations, possibly taking the opportunity of proximity to the urban centres. Indeed, the other two Indigenous communities have gas and oil resources. Likewise, according to the author, the indigenous communities who have settled in the urban areas have access to more educational and job opportunities and stay closer to the markets. Hence, according to the author, in mitigating the poverty levels amongst the Indigenous people, the first requirement is understanding the root causes of poverty. First, poverty is determined by the low incomes of individuals. And it can be argued that the rates of poverty levels amongst the Aboriginals are due to their geographical settings (Horrill). The first intervention in reducing the poverty level rates among the Indigenous people is by lowering the level of health disparities in Canada. In the actualization of this intervention, there is a need first to comprehend the pathways existing between poverty and its correlation to the results of health and the wellness of individuals (Canada Health). Equally important, the intervention for reducing poverty and closing the income gap between the Indigenous Canadians and the non-Aboriginals was a collective responsibility between; cities, provinces, the Indigenous people themselves, and the Canadian Jurisdiction. Some of the interventions under this discussion include; attenuating the effects of poverty, transferring income, government policies, and improving communities’ economic base.

Attenuating the effects of poverty

The first way of mitigating poverty amongst the Indigenous communities in Canada begins with alleviating the impacts of poverty. Notably, in the initial stages of this intervention, there is a need to determine the effect of poverty on the Aboriginal communities, and appropriate examination and assessment is then conducted to eliminate the effect. Additionally, this is the primary stage of action where the local levels ought to incorporate policies and measures to scale up the accessibility of recreation and other services. Attenuating the effects of poverty also includes providing the appropriate infrastructure to the Indigenous communities in Canada (Wien). Infrastructure should include roads, housing, water, the recreational centres, among many others. Once the roads are made accessible to the locals, the housing prices also should be reduced for accommodating more people in proper houses, thus fulfilling their necessity for shelter. Accessibility of the roads will intensify business activities between the Indigenous communities and the rest of the Canadians. And with better business opportunities, they will be able to accesss to the capital and thus increase the level of income among the Aboriginal communities. Then the existing gap will close up slowly.

Transferring of Income

This plan entails the establishment of a social scheme that targets vulnerable families and the elderly in society. It involves identifying those whose poverty levels are more as compared to others. This is a social fund scheme that will assist the poor in uplifting their social status by using the funds to drive their daily activities. Also, this scheme should ensure that pension is given to the elderly retired population for reducing the level of poverty within the communities. Again, workers should be provided with employment insurance which should provide them with their money in cases of termination of contract or more extended seasonal layoffs. Essentially, this will ensure that Indigenous communities have their finance even during tough economic times, and this will, in turn, alleviate poverty levels.

Other Government Policies

The policies under this section might first consider the root causes of poverty amongst the Aboriginal communities in Canada. The government needs to review their fiscal and monetary policies, with an aim of reducing the interest levels of loans and the requirements needs for an Indigenous community. Therefore, this will give the Indigenous communities access finance that they might incorporate in starting their businesses and thus become more competitive as the rest of the Canadians. Notably, monetary policies and fiscal policies should reduce taxes imposed on the Indigenous communities. They should also be provided with an enabling environment for conducting their business. Ultimately if the government considers this, the Indigenous communities will thrive economically, and the income gap between the Aboriginals and the remaining Canadian population will be significantly reduced.

Strengthening the Economic Base of Communities

Strengthening the economic base of the Indigenous communities means establishing an enabling environment for these communities to do their business. This also includes the provision of the market for their various products. Secondly, there should be creation of partnerships and various opportunities for the Aboriginal communities which also entail planning. Thirdly, there is a need to train the Indigenous communities and impact them with skills and competencies that can enable them to fit in the employment world. To summarize, attacking the root causes of poverty is often the best strategy, along with coming up with effective strategies which aim at reducing the level of poverty within Canada.

Government Interventions in Solving the Challenges of the Aboriginal Communities

Similarly, the government has been very instrumental in uplifting the living standards of the Aboriginal communities. One of the policies in uplifting the standards of living of the Indigenous communities is the housing programs aimed at providing affordable housing for the Indigenous communities. Again, the federal government has also pumped in 6.4 million dollars meant for helping the initial national leader to protect their environment, which is the primary source of life for the First nations (Canada Environment). Also, as discussed above, the Federal government has followed various interventions in assisting the Indigenous Canadians.


To summarize, the Indigenous Canadians include the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit. Essentially, this research has achieved its intended purpose of outlining the state of the Indigenous communities in Canada. Again, the research uses theoretical approaches in the various discussions about Aboriginal communities. This research, mainly discusses poverty as the primary challenge experienced by Indigenous Canadians. And poverty has been well articulated in the research, and different interventions have also been analysed within the research. Similarly, the article journals used in this research were all good; however, few were flawed. From my perspective, the research journals should adopt both quantitative and qualitative analysis to bring up more accurate research.

Works Cited

Canada, Environment. “Canada Invests $6.4 Million To Support First Nations Leadership Conservation – Canada.Ca”. Canada.Ca, 2022,

Canada, Health. “ARCHIVED – Closing The Gaps In Aboriginal Health – Canada.Ca.” Canada.Ca, 2022,

CPI. “Poverty In Canada — Canadian Poverty Institute.” Canadian Poverty Institute, 2019,,Indigenous%20children%20live%20in%20poverty.

DeGroot-Maggetti, Greg. “A measure of poverty in Canada.” Public Justice Resource Centre. Retrieved Sept 11 (2002): 2003.

Hajizadeh, Mohammad, et al. “Socioeconomic inequalities in health among Indigenous peoples living off-reserve in Canada: trends and determinants.” Health Policy 122.8 (2018): 854-865.

Horrill, Tara, et al. “Understanding access to healthcare among Indigenous peoples: a comparative analysis of biomedical and postcolonial perspectives.” Nursing inquiry 25.3 (2018): e12237.

Neylan, Susan. “Canada’s Dark Side: Indigenous Peoples And Canada’s 150Th Celebration | Origins”. Origins, 2022,

Noël, Alain, and Florence Larocque. “Aboriginal peoples and poverty in Canada: Can provincial governments make a difference.” annual meeting of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee. Vol. 19. 2009.

Power, Elaine M. “Conceptualizing food security for Aboriginal people in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 99.2 (2008): 95-97.

Wien, Fred. Tackling poverty in Indigenous communities in Canada. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2017.

Wilson, Daniel, and David Macdonald. The income gap between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2010.


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