Aboriginal education

Two happy older females from Iqualuit dressed in their graduate robes.Canada’s universities recognize that tremendous opportunities exist – for Aboriginal Canadians and for the country – if we increase access to university education for Aboriginal Canadians.

Education helps us  broaden our horizons, achieve our goals, live our dreams, provide for our families and contribute to our communities. With a university degree, Aboriginal Canadians can earn 50 percent more than their peers with a high school diploma. They experience longer, and greater attachment to the workforce and enjoy better health.

Canada also needs more university graduates to meet labour-market demands. By 2030, the population over the age of 65 will double. Retiring baby boomers will create greater demand for health, legal and social services. Aboriginal Canadians can help meet this demand. They are the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population. Yet only eight percent of Aboriginal Canadians have a university degree, compared to 23 percent of non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Increasing access to education for Aboriginal Canadians is a win-win situation.

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Aboriginal population grew by 47 percent between 1996 and 2006 (almost six times faster than the non-aboriginal population which grew by 8 percent).
  • Only 8 percent of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 in Canada have a university degree while 23 percent of non-Aboriginals of the same age group have a university degree.
  • More than one-third of Aboriginal people have not completed high school.
  • Federal funding to support Aboriginal students attending a postsecondary institution has increased at only two percent a year since 1996 while tuition has increased at an average of 4.4 percent a year since 1998.
  • Federal PSE funding supports about 22,000 Aboriginal students attending college and university a year.