Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS)

Detailed information for 2017




Every 5 years

Record number:


The purpose of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) is to provide data on the social and economic conditions of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit, aged 15 and over, in Canada.

Data release - Scheduled for fall of 2018


The 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) is a national survey of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 15 years and older. The 2017 APS represents the fifth cycle of the survey and focuses on transferable skills, practical training, use of information technology, Aboriginal language attainment, and participation in the Canadian economy.

The 2017 APS collects unique and detailed data on employment, education, and health which are not available from any other source. For example, although the 2016 Census of Population collected data on certain aspects of labour market participation, the 2017 APS addresses additional topics such as job satisfaction, multiple employment, past job attachment, and willingness to move to improve career opportunities.

The APS provides key statistics to inform policy and programming activities aimed at improving the well-being of Aboriginal Peoples. It is a valuable source of information for a variety of stakeholders including Aboriginal organizations, communities, service providers, researchers, governments, and the general public.

The survey is carried out by Statistics Canada with funding provided by three federal departments: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (formerly called Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada), Health Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada.


  • Aboriginal peoples
  • Aboriginal society and community
  • Education, literacy and skills
  • Health and well-being
  • Households, housing and environment
  • Languages and cultures
  • Population characteristics
  • Work, income and spending

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population of the 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) is composed of the Aboriginal identity population of Canada, 15 years of age or older as of January 15, 2017, living in private dwellings excluding people living on Indian reserves and settlements and in certain First Nations communities in Yukon and the Northwest Territories (NWT). The concept of "Aboriginal identity" refers to those persons who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group, namely, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuit, those who reported being a Status Indian (Registered Indian or Treaty Indian, as defined by the Indian Act of Canada), or those who reported being a member of a First Nation or Indian band.

The APS selected its sample from reported answers to the 2016 Census of Population long-form questionnaire. More precisely, the APS sample was selected from individuals who answered "Yes" to one of the three Census questions defining the identity population (questions 18, 20 and 21) or those who reported Aboriginal ancestry to question 17. Although not part of the 2017 APS target population, some individuals with Aboriginal ancestry who did not report Aboriginal identity were still sampled, since past survey experience indicates that nearly one-third of these individuals will report an Aboriginal identity on the APS. Therefore, unlike the target population, the sampled population (or survey population) was composed of both the identity population and the Aboriginal ancestry-only population.

Instrument design

Although the 2017 APS was designed to be thematic, it is based on previous cycles of the APS which were developed in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations. Following the release of data from the 2012 APS, a content review was conducted to ensure the future relevance of existing APS questions to key stakeholders and to identify any potential data gaps. The review brought together expertise from a diverse group of researchers and subject matter experts, both from within and outside of Statistics Canada. New survey questions were developed and added to the 2017 APS questionnaire in order to place greater emphasis on the themes of economic participation and education.

As was done in 2012, the questions in the 2017 APS were designed for use in a Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) environment which incorporates many features that serve to maximize the efficiency and quality of data collection. CAI allows for more complex questionnaire flows as well as on-line edits which identify any logical inconsistencies so that interviewers can correct these with the assistance of respondents at the time of the interview. Two computer assisted interview questionnaires were developed for this survey: a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) and a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI).

Qualitative testing of the survey questionnaire was carried out by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC) with the help of First Nations people, Métis, and Inuit across Canada. Adjustments were made to question wording and flows based on those results. Question wording adheres as closely as possibly to questions established by the Harmonized Content Committee at Statistics Canada. This increases opportunities to compare responses between Statistics Canada surveys.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The APS sample was selected from Census of Population long-form respondents who reported an Aboriginal identity or ancestry (see target population). These Census respondents make up the APS frame.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: January 16, 2017 to August 15, 2017

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

Before the start of collection, introductory letters explaining the purpose of the survey are sent to the selected respondents.

Questions are administered using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI). In most regions, CATI is used for individuals for whom there was a telephone number on the sample file. CAPI will be used for individuals who did not have a telephone number or who could not be contacted by telephone even when a number was available. In the territories, the northern parts of many provinces and some Inuit communities, there are often very few telephone numbers available. In these cases, personal interviews are conducted.

Respondents will be interviewed in the official language of their choice. For Inuit regions, the questionnaire was translated into Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. These versions are available as HTML files in the CAPI and CATI applications to assist interviewers with potential language barriers in the field.

The time required to complete the survey varies from person to person. The survey may take up to an hour to finish.

Proxy reporting is acceptable in some circumstances (for example, when the respondent is unable to answer for health related reasons, due to a language barrier, or because the selected respondent is going to be away from home for the duration of the survey.) Any member of the household over the age of 18 can act as a proxy for the selected respondent and answer the survey for them.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

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