Young Parenthood

Figure 33: Percentage of Young Parents aged 15 - 24 in Alberta (2006)
Figure 34: Live Births by Age Group of Mother, First Nations (2000) and Canada (2000)
Figure 35: First Nations live births by mother's age in Alberta (2008)

This section provides information on young parenthood and age of mothers at live birth. Figure 33 shows much to the non-Aboriginal population in Alberta. The differences are significant as young First Nations women (24 per cent) are three times more likely to be mothers between the ages of 15 and 24 than their non-Aboriginal (8 per cent) counterparts. For young First Nations men, 11 per cent are fathers compared to 3 per cent for the non-Aboriginal population.

The young parenting age of First Nations suggests interrupted schooling and may partly explain the much lower high school completion rate identified in Figure 37. In some cases, the effect is compounded if a young woman has more than one child which further delays school completion.

Historically, Canadian women gave birth at a much younger age than today, however this age has been increasing progressively. Figure 34 shows that in 2000, 60.2 per cent of Canadian babies had a mother between the ages of 25 and 34. In 2000, 52 per cent of First Nations babies had a mother under the age of 25, and 19.6 per cent had a teenage mother.

The impact of young parenthood on other socio-economic determinants such as education, income and employment is quite significant. In 2001, 80 per cent of First Nations teenage mothers lived in a family with a total income of less than $15,000 per year, compared to 27 per cent of First Nations mothers aged 20 years or older30. A few Canadian studies demonstrate that teenaged mothers are less likely to complete high school or post-secondary studies, and more likely to live in a low-income household and to be single-parent31.

Figure 35 illustrates that in 2003, in Alberta, 22 per cent of First Nations babies were born to a teenage mother. Five of these babies had a mother between the ages of 10 and 14.

The social factors affecting many First Nations are similar to those affecting the non-Aboriginal populations, but their degree differs. First Nations children are more likely to live in a single-parent household than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. They also have much younger parents than non-Aboriginal children and are overrepresented in the child welfare system.

30Guimond, E. and Robitaille, N. “When Teenage Girls Have Children: Trends and Consequences”, Hope or Heartbreak: Aboriginal Youth and Canada’s Future, Horizons, Policy Research Initiative, 2008.

31Bushnick, T., and Garner, R., “The Children of Older First-time Mothers in Canada: Their Health and Development”, Children and Youth Research Paper Series, Statistics Canada, catalogue no. 89-599-M, no. 005, 2008 and Luong, M. “Life after Teenage Motherhood”, Perspectives on Labour and Income, Statistics Canada, catalogue no. 75-001-X, vol. 9, no. 5, May 2008