The Aboriginal Population and the Census: 135 Years of Information – 1871 to 2006

Gustave Goldmann, Statistics Canada

This paper traces the history of census-taking as it pertains to the Aboriginal peoples beginning in 1871, the first formal census after Confederation. It is important to consider the context at the time of the census when analysing the results. Some of the basic concepts that define who is an Aboriginal person changed over time, resulting in variations in the published counts of the Aboriginal population. This paper traces the changes in the context in which the data were collected and ties this to the variations in the published counts. It also introduces the concept of ethnic mobility as an explanation of the variations in counts that can not be attributed to natural demographic processes. The analysis is conducted on historical and contemporary census data, census collection documentation and procedures and collection methodology.

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Presented in Poster Session 7