Canada, a country in North America, is composed of ten provinces and three territories. Despite being the second largest country in the world by total area, it is sparsely populated and home to around 38 million people.
The indigenous communities of Canada (including First nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) constitute roughly 5% of the population, around 1.9 million individuals. In light of colonial history, they still face significant inequalities and marginalization in Canada, predominately inhabiting the poorest, rural, and most northern regions of Canada.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Canada since 1969.
Over 6 million people, more than 16% of the population, live below the poverty line. 1.3 million of them are children. This equates to almost 18% of the nation’s child population. Younger children are at greater risk, with almost 19% of under-6s, around 433,740 children, living in poverty. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of deprivation, facing long-term consequences to their development, educational outcomes, as well as their physical and mental health.
Across Canada’s ten provinces, an average of 16% of households lack food security. It affects 5.8 million people - 16% of the population. Children are disproportionately affected, with 1.4 million under-18s at risk of hunger. However, these figures exclude several highly vulnerable groups. Food insecurity has multiple knock-on effects on children’s well-being and their ability to concentrate in school. It also weakens their immune systems, resulting in poor health and a greater likelihood of illness.
Indigenous communities experience higher levels of poverty, which is influenced by their territory of residence, registration status, and whether they live on reserves. Over 50% of Status First Nations children living on reserves live in poverty. This rate is over 4 times higher than for non-indigenous (and non-immigrant) children. Poverty has been used to legitimize the separation of indigenous children from their families. Family separation disconnects children from their cultural heritage, negatively impacting their physical and mental health, social integration, and prospects.