Aboriginal identity of person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on June 15, 2015.


Aboriginal identity refers to whether the person identified with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This includes those who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada), and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programs.


'Aboriginal identity' may be derived or estimated. When derived, it is derived from three component variables: Aboriginal group, Registered or Treaty Indian status, and Membership in a First Nation or Indian band. When estimated, the same three components are considered in the estimation.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

This standard conforms to the recommendations for censuses contained in the United Nations' "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 2", 2008. The UN suggests that defining the indigenous population can be done in many ways, such as through a question on ethnic origin (that is to say, ancestry) and/or on indigenous identity. This standard follows from the second of the suggested approaches. However, this standard goes beyond this to capture other aspects of Aboriginal identity by including the category "Aboriginal responses not included elsewhere" which encompasses those who did not report being First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) but who did report being members of a First Nations/Indian band and/or Registered Indians or Treaty Indians as defined by the Indian Act of Canada. The UN provides no standard classification because countries use their own national concepts to identify the indigenous population.


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • Aboriginal identity of person June 15, 2015 to current

    This is an update of 'Aboriginal identity of person'. The definition has been reworded but the meaning is unchanged.

  • Aboriginal identity of person April 20, 2009 to June 14, 2015

    There was a previous standard called 'Aboriginal identity' but the meaning associated with it is now conveyed by the standard 'Aboriginal group of person'.

  • Aboriginal identity June 15, 1998 to April 19, 2009

    'Aboriginal identity of person' replaces the standard 'Aboriginal identity' as of April 20, 2009.

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