• Aboriginal population balloons in Quebec
May 30, 2013
By Christopher Curtis, THE GAZETTE May 10, 2013

There are now nearly 142,000 aboriginal people in Quebec, compared with almost 80,000 in 2001, according to census data released Wednesday. In 2006, the year of the last census, there were 108,000 aboriginals living in Quebec.

Despite this population surge, the federal government will cut $1.2 billion from its Aboriginal Affairs budget by fiscal year 2015-2016.

The Conservatives spend about $10 billion each year on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and past budget increases have been capped at around two per cent annually. But with population growth far outpacing federal spending, aboriginal chiefs across Quebec say they’re in crisis mode.

“People are just leaving the reserve because there’s a major housing shortage and in some cases they don’t have access to the most basic services,” said Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees.

“When they leave, they lose their language, they lose their culture and it hits them really hard. But what choice do they have?”

Namagoose’s fears aren’t ill-founded, according to Statistics Canada. Roughly 28 per cent of the province’s aboriginals live on-reserve — about half the national average. And while the overall number of indigenous people is growing rapidly in Quebec, a much smaller portion of the population counts an aboriginal language as its mother tongue.



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