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Statistical Data Reveals Urban Indian Profile

Doug Cuthand

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1988      p20  
Statistical information obtained from Stats Canada and Indian Affairs provides the unique snapshot of Indian people in Saskatchewan.

The typical on-reserve Indian is young, female, from a southern reserve, and lives in Saskatoon or Regina.

Off-Reserve Male-Female Populations chart A breakdown by district shows that Yorkton has the highest percentage of on-reserve residents at sixty-four per cent. The Touchwood File Hills-Fort Qu'Appelle District follows with fifty-nine per cent off-reserve residents.

On the other hand, the northern districts have a much lower percentage with only twenty per cent living off the reserve in Prince Albert and thirty-one percent in the Meadow Lake District.

A breakdown of on-reserve residents shows that Regina and Saskatoon contain half the province's urban Indians with twenty-four per cent in Saskatoon and twenty-five percent in Regina.

However, the most interesting statistics are found in the age/sex breakdown of the off and on-reserve Indian population.

First of all, fifty per cent of all on-reserve Indians are age 19 and under. Compared to fifty per cent of all on-reserve Indians being below the age of 18, the statistics compared favourably at that point. However, above the age of 20, the on-reserve female population is considerably higher than that of the on-reserve male population. From age 40-44 for example, there are 173 off-reserve males compared to 689 off-reserve females. The figure gets much higher the older you go. Ages 50-54 for example, there are 173 off-reserve males compared to 379 off-reserve females. And the ratio continues roughly 2:1 up until about age 70.

The on-reserve figure shows the opposite with a higher ratio of males to females. For example, age 40-44, there are 721 males living on reserves compared to 527 females. From ages 55-59, there are 463 males living on reserves compared to 358 females.

Of the total Indian population, fifty-five per cent live on reserve, forty-three per cent live off the reserve, and two percent live on Crown land.

What do these statistics show? First of all, the majority of off-reserve Indians are from the south. The two southern districts, Touchwood File Hills-Fort Qu'Appelle, and the Yorkton District have over half of their population living off the reserves.

The northern reserves on the other hand, have remained with a rural based population. The issues created by off-reserve Indians are having a greater impact in the south, simply because there are so many that do not live on the reserves.

Also, Regina and Saskatoon appear to have equal Indian populations. However, race relations appear more negative in Regina. What are the differences in the two cities if the Indian population is roughly the same? Regina has a perceived Indian problem which is rarely spoken of in Saskatoon.

These statistics raise more questions and additional research will have to be done to try to answer some of these questions. However,

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Statistical Data Reveals Urban Indian Profile

Doug Cuthand

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1988      p21  
at the level of programs for urban Indians, it becomes quite apparent that women should form the client group for new programs. Issues such as day care for children, health care and social services, should all be examined and put into perspective of the off-reserve statistical base.

What are the reasons behind the shift for women to leave the reserve and for men to remain behind? It would appear that women leave the reserve in search of improved services for their families.

Most often, they are single parents and they have either decided to go to school or to move into the city where health care, social services and better living conditions exist.

On the other hand, men tend to stay on reserve to raise their families. Also, if they marry a non-Indian, she is more readily acceptable both legally and socially, than a non-Indian male married to an Indian woman.

Also, the high percentage of women over the age of 60 in cities indicates that they have moved into the city in search of better living conditions, to be closer to health services and improved social services.

The migration from the reserves to the cities shows no sign of letting up and single parent off-reserve families continue to move to the city in search of a better lifestyle.

As the urban areas begin to organize, and as the FSIN takes a greater responsibility for off-reserve Indians, information such as this should be taken into consideration and programs put in place that properly reflect the needs of off-reserve Indians.

On and Off Reserve Populations By District chart