Canadian Environmental Health Atlas

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Diversity & Disparities

Diversity & Disparities

Community Diversity
Aboriginal people are dispersed across Canada (Figure 1), with many living in small rural and remote communities separated by vast geographical distances and differentiated by language, culture, and history.1 Many communities share common features, but the people in them are often very different from each other. There are also differences in the socioeconomic conditions of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people, with many having substantially lower standards of living than other Canadians.

Community Disparities
The socioeconomic disparities between people living in non-Aboriginal communities and in various Aboriginal communities are substantial. While the largest differences in well-being scores between First Nations and other Canadian communities were in housing and income, the largest differences between Inuit and other Canadian communities were in housing and education.

Looking more closely at education, 25% of the non-Aboriginal population reported having a university degree or more advanced education in 2006, compared with only 7% of First Nations, 9% of Metis, and 4% of Inuit (Figure 2). In 2006, 45% of First Nations people on a reserve lived in homes needing major repairs, compared with 36% needing repair 10 years earlier. Equally concerning, the proportion of Inuit living in homes needing major repairs rose to nearly 28% from 19% 10 years earlier (Figure 3). Health disparities are also evident in projections for life expectancy, which are consistently lower for the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations of Canada than for the non-Aboriginal population (Figure 4).


  • 1. Armstrong R. Mapping the conditions of First Nations communities. Statistics Canada. Canadian Social Trends. 1999; (55):14-18.