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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 12:47 GMT
Canadian indigenous numbers soar
The town of Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory, Canada, 321km south of the Arctic Circle
The census also details where aboriginal people live
Census figures in Canada show a big increase in the number of Canadians who describe themselves as belonging to one of the country's indigenous peoples.

Data from the 2006 census shows there are now almost 1.2 million aboriginal people - 4% of the population and a 45% rise since the last census in 1996.

The survey also shows that more than half live in or near urban areas.

A record number of indigenous people took part in the 2006 census, but some populous reserves still shunned it.

There are three indigenous groups in Canada: North American Indian or First Nations people; Inuit who live in Canada's far north and Metis, who are descendants of early marriages between native people and European settlers.

The new statistics show a dramatic increase - 45% in 10 years - in those people who identify themselves as belonging to of one of those groups.

The information also reveals that 54% of the country's indigenous people now live in or near cities.

Officials at Statistics Canada, which carried out the census, say the growth and change in demographics can be attributed to a soaring birth rate driven by an unusually young population, and greater pride in aboriginal heritage.

'Not Canadians'

Canada's native peoples have a median age of 27 and almost half are under 25.

The census found that since 1996 there had been some improvement in overcrowded housing conditions in traditional communities.

But one in four people living there report that their homes are dilapidated and in need of significant repairs.

The number of aboriginal peoples refusing to take part in the census has declined, but some are still opposed to the survey.

"We are not Canadian citizens. We are North American Indians," Chief Clarence Simon of Kanesatake, a Mohawk community, was quoted as saying by Canadian media.

His reserve was among 22 not included in the census.

Census officials say that their reach has improved since previous surveys and they have rejected arguments that there has been a significant under-counting of aboriginal people.

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