June 21 : National Aboriginal Day + Abacus Data Millennial Month

Across Canada on June 21 we celebrate and share the culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for National Aboriginal Day. This is an important time to step back and look at the cultural shifts we see among Indigenous communities today and specifically among the large Millennial population within the Indigenous community in Canada. 

Today there are around 1.4 Million Indigenous peoples in Canada.

According to statistics Canada, Indigenous people are the youngest group of Canadians. 2006 census data shows that the median age of the total First Nations, Inuit and Métis population was 27 compared to 40 years of age for the non-Indigenous population.

With a young population there is an increasing demand for access to education. To help me better understand the cultural climate that Indigenous youth are facing today I spoke with Ken Aucoin, of Indspire, an organization committed to fostering high achievement in Indigenous youth education and celebrating the achievements of Indigenous people through the annual nationally broadcast Indspire Awards.

Indspire AwardsThe Indspire Awards, to be held next in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 21, 2014, annually celebrates 14 Indigenous achievers including a Youth award recognizing a First Nation, an Inuit and a Métis youth to serve as role models and inspire Indigenous young people to strive and seek achievement in school and in work.

Since 1985, Indspire has provided $54 million in financial aid scholarships to 16,000 Indigenous students nationwide looking to complete their post secondary education. Approximately $40 million of that has been provided within the last eight years. And the need is growing, the organization was only able to provide for 16% (totalling $6 million) of the requested financial aid for post secondary education that came from students in last year.

With this in mind the birth rate among Indigenous community in Canada is six times higher than the national average and is growing. And while the population grows, the education gap between Indigenous youth and non-aboriginal youth is widening.

According to Indspire’s Ken Aucoin, financial need is the biggest barrier to Indigenous students wishing to access post secondary education.

He says that the myth of Aboriginal students having their education fully paid for by government is inaccurate. And in actual fact, funding for Indigenous students is only provided to some students. Métis students receive no funding from the government to support their post secondary education.

What does this mean for the changing landscape of Canada’s Indigenous youth? For those who succeed in graduating with their high school diploma, post secondary education is a reality for some, but still not for all who wish to pursue their education. Many are seeking these opportunities and wish to contribute to the betterment of their communities, their families and the economic prosperity of Canada following their post secondary education.

Please comment below to share your thoughts.


Jaime is an Analyst at Abacus Data and a thought leader for its Canadian Millennials research practice.

Contact Jaime Morrison:

T: 613-232-2806

E: jaime@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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