Indigenous group of person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on April 1, 2021.


Indigenous group refers to whether the person is First Nations (North American Indian), Métis and/or Inuk (Inuit). A person may be included in more than one of these three specific groups. Aboriginal peoples of Canada (referred to here as Indigenous peoples) are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35 (2) as including Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples.

First Nations (North American Indian) includes Status and non-Status Indians.

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


'Indigenous group of person' may be analyzed using the Classification of Indigenous group. Here, if the person belongs to more than one specific Indigenous group, they are classified using the 'Multiple Indigenous responses' category.

'Indigenous group of person' may also be analyzed by looking at each response individually. Here, the Classification of Indigenous group response is used. This approach is used to look at all persons who reported belonging to a specific Indigenous group. In this second approach, counts are based on response occurrences, that is, each response provided to a question about the person's Indigenous group. A person can have more than one response occurrence, depending on the number of specific Indigenous groups they reported. Each response may be considered separately in analysis. The sum of the Indigenous group responses may be greater than the total population count because a person may report more than one specific Indigenous group.

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 3", 2017. 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 conforms to the second of the suggested approaches. The UN provides no standard classification because countries use their own national concepts to identify the Indigenous population.


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • Indigenous group of person April 01, 2021 to current

    The terminology within the concept has been updated from 'Aboriginal' to 'Indigenous' in English. The wording of the concept definition and the categories in the classifications have been reworded but the meaning is unchanged.

  • Aboriginal group of person June 15, 2015 to March 31, 2021

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

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

    This standard replaces the previous standard called 'Aboriginal identity'. The definitions and class terms in the previous standard have been updated. The meaning of the term Indian is now conveyed by the term First Nations (North American Indian). The new standard also allows for classification of responses in addition to the classification of persons.

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

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

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