Canada's First Nations: Successful bands are dictating their own fate

First Nation singers wave bird feathers while taking part in ceremonies prior to a meeting of...

First Nation singers wave bird feathers while taking part in ceremonies prior to a meeting of British Columbia Chiefs in Vancouver, January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark

Lorne Gunter , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

Figures on aboriginal population from the 2011 census are not yet available, but the 2006 census showed nearly 1.2 million Canadians - about 4% of the population - claim to be aboriginal. Of these, fewer than a quarter (under 400,000) live on reserves.

While some of the central Canadian reserves likely have the biggest populations (Ontario's Six Nations may have as many as 20,000), residents seldom respond to requests from census-takers. Among reserves on which a reliable census has been completed, the largest is the Blood reserve near Fort Macleod, Alberta with under 5,000 members. Just over 200 reserves have as many as 500 residents. Nearly two-thirds of our 617 reserves have far fewer than 500 inhabitants.

This points out the absurdity of thinking of these tiny settlements, often in very remote locations, as "nations." So long as Native-rights activists cling to the demand that their villages, hamlets and small towns be afforded the same respect by Ottawa as Germany, China and the UK, there will be no solving the problems facing our reserves and the people who live on them.


Videos

Photos