6.2.1 Percentage of Canadian children and youth under 18 living in poverty*, by Indigenous identity, Canada, 2015

First Nations Métis Unuit Non-Indigenous
Indigenous Identity 37.9 21.5 20.3 16.1

*Living below the low income measure after tax
Excludes census data for one or more incompletely enumerated Indian reserves or Indian settlements.

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from Statistics Canada – 2016 Census. Catalogue Number 98-400-X2016173.

In 2015, 38% of First Nations children and youth lived in poverty (below the low-income measure – after tax).

That was the case for 22% of Métis children and youth and 20% of Inuit children and youth.

This compares to 16% of non-Indigenous children and youth who were living in poverty.

While the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous families vary greatly, a history of colonization, including social exclusion and political and economic marginalization, has contributed to many Indigenous families facing numerous and persistent disadvantages. Indigenous children are more likely to live in poverty than non-Indigenous children, especially First Nations children living on reserve.1 Growing up in a household with persistent poverty is a major determinant of Indigenous children’s health and well-being with substantial cumulative impacts.2 Poverty affects healthy child development and leads to poorer health outcomes, not only in young children but later in life as adults.3 Chronic poverty can result in food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies, with poorer physical health outcomes including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. It can impact children’s cognitive development, with impacts to academic success and consequences across the life course. It can also impact children’s emotional and mental development, as poverty can foster parental stresses and negative coping strategies, like substance abuse and family violence, which are experienced and internalized by children. However, the impact of poverty on children’s health can be mediated through an increased focus on family time, family assets, parenting styles, parenting relationships, and high quality schools.2

1Macdonald, D., & Wilson, D. (2016). Shameful neglect: Indigenous child poverty in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
2Phipps, S. (2003). The impact of poverty on health: A scan of research literature. Canadian Population Health Initiative, Canadian Institute for Health Information. Retrieved September 12, from https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/CPHIImpactonPoverty_e.pdf
3Paul-Sen Gupta, R., de Wit, M.L., & McKeown, D. (2007). The impact of poverty on the current and future health status of children. Paediatric Child Health, 12(8), 667-672.

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