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Nunavut has youngest population

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 11, 2012

A third of the territory's population is younger than 14, Nunavut has the lowest proportion of seniors in the country, and more people are entering the workforce than leaving it, opposite the national trend.

Those are some of the highlights of the newly-released data on age and gender from Statistics Canada. The federal agency released that data, results of the 2011 census, on May 29. It does not include Whale Cove.

Across Nunavut, children aged 0 to 14 account for 33 per cent of the population while 64 per cent of Nunavummiut are between the ages of 15 and 64. The remaining three per cent are those aged 65 and over. Nunavut's median age is 24.

Premier Eva Aariak stated the territory's young population is one of its most valuable assets.

Nunavut has the lowest proportion of seniors in the country, at 3.3 per cent, but also the lowest life expectancy of all provinces and territories at 69.8 years. The territory's fertility rate is about three children per woman.

Nationally, seniors account for a record high 14.8 per cent of the population while the working-age population, those aged 15 to 64, represented 68.5 per cent of Canadians. As well, nationally, and for the first time, the 2011 census data showed more people were aged 55 to 64, the age group leaving the workforce, than 15 to 24, those entering it.

"With such a high youth population in Nunavut," said Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern, "ideally you would see a lot more young people getting into the workforce. It's tied with the graduation rates, which are still quite low."

Aariak said the territory has the fastest-growing gross domestic product in the country, noting a number of mining projects will go into production in the next years and high vacancy rate in the government.

"Our young and creative workforce will grow our economy and build our territory into the future," she said.

About four out of 10 people in Repulse Bay, Kugaaruk, Iglulik, Arviat and Taloyoak were children aged 14 and younger, according to the data. That age group was the highest in every community except Iqaluit, where the 25-44 age group prevailed, and Cambridge Bay, where the 0-14 and 25-44 age groups were tied. The number of children aged 0 to 4 increased 15.7 per cent in Nunavut between 2006 and 2011, the third largest rise among provinces and territories, the data shows.

Kugaaruk Mayor Stephan Inaksajak said "I am not surprised because I see lots of young people out there - kids."

Brian Fleming, the senior administrative officer in Iglulik, said the community has a high birth rate but raises concerns for the opportunities available for youth.

"It's bit of a concern in the sense it's a large number of people within that age group. As that age group starts to move, they (will) look for employment and jobs and so on. What are they going to do?" he said.

On the other end, Pangnirtung, Resolute, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield Inlet had the highest proportion of seniors aged 65 and over, shows the data.

Chesterfield Inlet Mayor Harry Aggark said he was surprised by that number.

"I never noticed it. We've only got a few seniors here," he said.

Iqaluit had the highest median age, at 30.1 years. This means half the population in the capital city is below that age while the other half is above it.

Iqaluit also had the highest proportion of people of working age in the territory, as 74 per cent of its population is between 15 and 64. Redfern viewed this as positive.

"It's not surprising because we are a regional centre and the capital city," she said.

She noted Iqaluit has the legislative assembly, the headquarters of the territorial government, not to mention the municipal government and various support services.

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