6.8.1 Indigenous children in out-of-home care, by selected provinces, Canada, 2011

Ontario (age 0-16) Manitoba (age 0-18) Saskatchewan (age 0-16) Alberta (age 0-18) British Columbia (age 0-19)
Indigenous children as % of the total population 3.0 23.0 25.0 9.0 8.0
Indigenous children as % of children in care of the child welfare system* 21.0 85.0 80.0 59.0 52.0

* Foster Care, Group Home, Institution or Kinship

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from Sinha et al., 2011, p. 5; Trocmé et al., 2005, p.10. Article: Sinha, V. & Kozlowski, A. 2013. The Structure of Aboriginal Child Welfare in Canada. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 4(2). http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1127&context=iipj&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.ca%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D50%26q%3Daboriginal%2Badoption%2Bin%2Bcanada%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C5%26as_ylo%3D2007#search=%22aboriginal%20adoption%20canada%22-accessed August 21, 2017.

Indigenous children make up a small proportion of the total population of many provinces but constitute a significant proportion of children in care of the child welfare system (e.g., in foster care, group homes, institutions or kinship care).

In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, almost 25% of the total provincial population is Indigenous. However, Indigenous children account for over 80% of children in the care of the child welfare system.

In Alberta, only 9% of children in the province are Indigenous, yet they account for 59% of all children in care, while in BC, they represent 8% of all children in the province but account for 52% of all children in care.


Indigenous children are over-represented in the child welfare system in Canada. Indigenous families are more likely to be investigated for suspected maltreatment and more than twice as likely to be placed in foster care compared to non-Indigenous children.1 Acknowledging the importance of children’s Indigenous heritage, child welfare policies have moved away from a heavy reliance on the adoption of Indigenous children into non-Indigenous families towards greater control of Indigenous communities over the welfare of children and placement of those children with extended family.1

1Trocmé, N., Knoke, D., & Blackstock, C. (2004). Pathways to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in Canada’s child welfare system. Social Service Review, Dec., 577-600.