Are Indigenous Peoples well represented among professional artists, arts leaders, and all cultural workers in Canada?
The 7,500 professional Indigenous artists represent almost 4% of all artists
Today’s post examines the number and representation of Indigenous Peoples within four broad groupings of occupations: professional artists, arts leaders, workers in cultural occupations, and all Canadian workers, based on data from the 2021 census.
The post does not include an analysis of the incomes of Indigenous artists, which I am planning to create and release in two weeks.
I recognize that there is a great diversity of Indigenous Peoples residing on the territory commonly known as Canada. However, for the purposes of this focus on artists – a relatively small population group – it has been necessary to examine Indigenous Peoples as one group.
Readers should be aware that Census data are less complete for Indigenous Peoples than many other groups, which might result in a low estimate of the number of Indigenous artists (and other workers). Some reserves and settlements did not allow census activity within their borders, while other areas were inaccessible due to wildfires or floods in the spring of 2021. Statistics Canada estimates that 23% of the on-reserve Indigenous population did not respond to the long-form census, a non-response rate that is almost 10 times higher than in the general population (2.6%). The response rate was likely higher for Indigenous residents off-reserve than on-reserve. I did not request separate data for off-reserve and on-reserve residents.
Analysis based on the census relates to professional workers, but with a very specific concept of professional. Census data on occupations include people who worked more hours as an artist than at any other occupation between May 1 and 8, 2021, plus people who were not in the labour force at that time but had worked more as an artist than at another occupation between January of 2020 and May of 2021. Part-time artists who spent more time at another occupation in May of 2021 would be classified in the other occupation. (The same would be true of workers in arts leadership occupations and all cultural occupations.)
In the census, Indigenous identity is based on self-identification as First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit. Details of the census questions and other notes regarding methods are provided at the end of this post.