For Aboriginals, Life Is Better In The City – Report

Publication, Poverty, Frontier Centre

The focus and organization of this study

This study is based on 2006 census data released in early 2008 by Statistics Canada. I provide only rudimentary comments to help the reader more clearly understand the data. It is organized as follows: A variety of graphs and charts are noted with comparative indicators which start out with the “global” picture: “Aboriginal” as a catch-all category from Statistics Canada, a category that includes North American Indian, Métis, Inuit, multiple Aboriginal identity responses, and Aboriginal identity responses not included elsewhere. The study then notes other information: who lives on reserves and from what identity, median income, education and housing. It is followed by specific reserve-city comparisions.


Urban life matters, including to Canada’s Aboriginal population In his 1991 book Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy, Joel Kotkin shed light on why some people groups (and people in those collectives) succeed in diasporas around the world or at home.

Kotkin analyzed five “tribes” from around the world—Jews, British expatriates, Japanese, East Indians, and Chinese—and found three reasons why they succeeded:

1. A strong ethnic identity and sense of mutual dependence that helps the group adjust to changes in the global economic and political order without losing its essential unity;

2. A global network based on mutual trust that allows the tribe to function collectively beyond the confines of national or regional borders;

3. A passion for technical and other knowledge from all possible sources, combined with an essential open-mindedness that fosters rapid cultural and scientific development critical for success in the late-twentieth-century world economy (Kotkin 1991, 5).

In short, Kotkin argues the reason such groups succeeded, or their diasporas did when their home countries were unfriendly to habits of prosperity, was due to cultural influences which had the following effects: it made them amenable to new ideas, to work habits that fostered success, to practical useful education, and willing to imitate success they observed elsewhere (the Japanese after the Meiji reforms are an obvious example).

View the Full Study in PDF Format (37 pages)