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Old Posted Jan 16, 2008, 3:55 AM
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Job programs aren't keeping up to aboriginal growth
Updated at 2:10 PM

By Aldo Santin

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"The programs that we've designed for First Nation people over the past 20 years have not worked," Helgason said today.
Manitoba's aboriginal population continues to be the fastest growing segment in the province, new data from Statistics Canada shows, but analysts this morning said that existing programs and services have not provided the jobs and education necessary for these people to play a role in Manitoba's growth.


Statistics Canada's analysis of the 2006 Census revealed that while the non-aboriginal component of Manitoba's population decreased by one per cent between 1996 and 2006, the aboriginal population increased 36 per cent.

Data from the 2006 Census released today shows:

- Winnipeg was home to the largest Aboriginal population in Canada, 68,380.

- Aboriginal people represent 10 per cent of Winnipeg metropolitan area.

- The aboriginal population of Winnipeg grew 22 times faster than the non-aboriginal population between 2001 and 2006.

- The number of people identifying themselves as Metis in Manitoba grew 58 per cent between 1996 and 2006, reaching 71,805 people in 2006.

- Aboriginal people made up a considerable share of the population in smaller urban centres: 36 per cent of the population of Thompson; 23 per cent of the population of Portage la Prairie; 9 per cent of Brandon; 40 per cent of The Pas; and 27 per cent of population of Selkirk.

Wilf Falk, the director of the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics, said Metis are participating in all sectors of Manitoba's economy at much higher levels compared to First Nation people.

Wayne Helgason, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, said the data shows that First Nation continue to have the lowest levels of education and employment, are more likely to be in single-parent families and live in crowded housing, and more likely to live in poverty.

"The programs that we've designed for First Nation people over the past 20 years have not worked," Helgason said following a news conference at the Thunder Bird House where the 2006 Census data was released.

Helgason said he believes the main reason the programs aimed at raising First Nation standards have not succeeded is because First Nation community leaders have allowed government agencies and non-aboriginals to design and deliver these programs.

"You don't take responsibility (for your people) by having everyone else doing everything for you," Helgason said.

Helgason said the only way to have the majority of First Nation people fully share in Manitoba's economy is to ensure that their children get an education and "become self sufficient and successful. It's a long-term process."

Falk said aboriginals and immigrants will soon become the major component of Manitoba's labour force, adding society has to make sure that these people have the education and skills to replace retiring workers.

"They need to have the skills to take the jobs that will open up," Falk said.


aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca
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