There’s going to be a heck of a lot more Natives around pretty soon.

The First Nations population of Canada will rise by almost 50 per cent in the next 25 years, according to Statistics Canada.

The increase is the result of falling infant mortality rates and rising life expectancy, says a study put out by the agency.

Nevertheless, the study also says that even in 25 years, Native life expectancy is expected to still be significantly lower than the Canadian average. Today’s rate of 66.9 years for Native men is expected to rise to 72.9 years by 2016, and for aboriginal women life expectancy will increase from 74 years to 80.1 years.

For the average Canadian male, life expectancy will increase from 74.6 to 78.5 years, and for women, from 80.9 to 84 years, says the study.

By the year 2016, Canada will be home to 1.6 million First Nations people, up from 1.1I million in 1991.

The total Canadian population is expected to increase by just 32 per cent,
from today’s 28 million to 37 million.

The study also says more Native people than ever will be of working age and will need jobs. The author calls on Canada to provide adequate job training for Natives and “reduce barriers to employment.”

“The projected increase of aboriginal population in the labour-force age groups is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed by aboriginal leaders and police makers alike.”

In Quebec, according to Statistics Canada, the number of people with Native ancestry was 153,200 in 1991 and will reach 212,800 in 2016.