First Nations Communities in Alberta

First Nations in Alberta
test First Nations in Alberta

Source: First Nations in Alberta, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009

Alberta is divided into three Treaty areas, which are further divided into communities, tribal councils and/or independent bands. However, the most commonly used data sources, Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs

Canada (INAC) and Statistics Canada, do not all identify the same number of communities in each Treaty area. While Statistics Canada identifies 97 reserves in Alberta, not all of them are populated. INAC recognizes 134 reserves and 44 First Nations, while Health Canada, through First Nations and Inuit Health, delivers programs to yet a different number of communities as some services are offered locally and others are offered through tribal councils and other organizations. For example, some of the health services offered to the embers of the Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Montana, Pigeon Lake and Samson bands are offered locally while others are offered through a centrally-located organization, Maskwacis Health Services. In some cases, the data available for Bigstone are simply identified as such for INAC and Health Canada but the use of census sub-divisions by Statistics Canada provides more compartmentalized data. The communities that make up Stoney Tribal Administration are counted as only one community by INAC and three by Statistics Canada. For the purpose of this document, the working number of communities is defined as 45 and includes:

  • **Treaty 6* – located in central Alberta and consists of the following 17 communities: Alexander, Alexis, Beaver Lake, Cold Lake, Enoch, Ermineskin, Frog Lake, Heart Lake, Kehewin, Louis Bull, Montana, O’Chiese, Paul, Pigeon Lake, Samson and Sunchild.
  • Treaty 7 – located in southern Alberta and comprises the communities of Big Horn, Blood, Eden Valley, Piikani, Siksika, Stoney and Tsuu T’ina.
  • Treaty 8 – located in the northern part of Alberta and includes 21 communities: Athabasca Chipewyan, Atikameg, Beaver, Bigstone, Dene Tha’, Driftpile, Duncan, Fort McKay, Fort McMurray, Horse Lake, Janvier, Kapawe’no, Little Red River, Loon River, Mikisew, Sawridge, Sturgeon Lake, Sucker Creek, Swan River, Tall Cree and Woodland Cree. Two communities are not included on this list: Smith’s Landing, which recently received the status of reserve, and Lubicon which is negotiating recognition as a reserve.
Figure 01: Band Registration by Treaty Area in Alberta (2008)
Figure 02: On-Reserve Population by Treaty Area in Alberta (2008)

There is great cultural diversity within First Nations communities in Alberta and a broad range of languages spoken. The most common First Nations languages in Alberta are Blackfoot, Cree, Chipewyan, Dene, Sarcee and Stoney (Nakoda Sioux).

INAC’s Indian Registry provides membership information for each band. Figure 1 shows that 39 per cent of the First Nations registered to Alberta bands are registered to bands in Treaty 6, 26 per cent are registered with bands within Treaty 7 and 35 per cent are registered to bands in Treaty 8.

While INAC’s Indian Registry also provides residence data to indicate whether an individual is residing onreserve, on crown land or off-reserve, the information is typically registered at major life events and its accuracy may vary by community.

As of December 31, 2008, the Indian Registry for Alberta indicates that 43 per cent of First Nations living on-reserve are Treaty 6 members, 31 per cent are Treaty 7 members and 26 per cent are Treaty 8 members. In comparing Figure 1 and 2, it appears that while the number of individuals registered to Treaty 8 bands is significantly higher than for Treaty 7, its on-reserve population is actually lower than that of Treaty 7.

The 2005 Indian Registry indicates a slightly higher proportion of First Nations living on-reserve (65 per cent) as compared to the 2006 Census (59 per cent).

First Nations communities in Alberta vary considerably in size. Table 1 provides population data for each of the First Nations communities in Alberta. The table provides data from INAC’s Indian Registry for the membership of each band including total, on-reserve and crown land residence for the membership. The following should be considered:

  • The Indian Registry combines the membership of Saddle Lake and Goodfish Lake (Whitefish Lake 128) as it is recognized as only one nation.
  • For most communities, few members reside on crown land, however, it is not the case for a few First Nations communities in Alberta including, Athabasca Chipewyan, Bigstone and Mikisew.
Figure 03: On-Reserve First Nations Population Distribution by Community Size, Alberta (2008)

Using INAC’s Indian Registry, Figure 3 shows that the majority of First Nations who live on-reserve in Alberta live in larger communities. In fact, 67 per cent live in the eleven on-reserve communities with a population over 1,500 and 83 per cent live in on-reserve communities with a population over 1,000. This high proportion of First Nations living in larger on-reserve communities in Alberta is atypical as
many other provinces have a very different population distribution. For example, while a similar number of First Nations individuals live in both British Columbia and Alberta, there are five times more First Nations communities in British Columbia (198) than in Alberta (44).

Table 01: Population Data for First Nations Communities
Communities INAC Total Population INAC On-Reserve Population INAC Crown Land Population
Treaty 6 40006 27536 186
Alexander 1814 989 3
Alexis 1623 957 1
Beaver Lake 919 351 12
Cold Lake 2365 1241 2
Enoch 2101 1525 3
Ermineskin 3802 2904 104
Frog Lake 2563 1682 4
Heart Lake 297 194 0
Kehewin 1799 1049 26
Louis Bull 1884 1559 9
Montana 892 698 1
O’Chiese 999 714 1
Paul 1822 1277 1
Saddle Lake & Goodfish Lake 8918 5919 12
Samson 6992 5652 7
Sunchild 1216 825 0
Whitefish Lake (IR 128) n/a n/a n/a
Treaty 7 26751 19497 17
Big Horn (Wesley) 1478 1340 5
Blood 10498 7671 3
Eden Valley (Bearspaw) 1630 1514 0
Morley (Chiniki) 1620 1498 2
Piikani 3474 2360 1
Siksika 6386 3709 6
Tsuu T’ina 1665 1405 0
Treaty 8 35934 16192 2572
Athabasca Chipewyan 876 16 222
Atikameg 2123 1131 244
Beaver 832 408 3
Bigstone 7103 2616 672
Dene Tha’ 2633 1904 7
Driftpile 2336 867 0
Duncan 226 132 0
Fort McKay 647 332 5
Fort McMurray 602 258 1
Horse Lake 900 408 0
Janvier 696 335 0
Kapawe’no 313 102 0
Little Red River 4328 3431 403
Loon River 484 390 9
Lubicon 429 35 219
Mikisew 2537 188 590
Sawridge 380 42 0
Smith’s Landing 314 0 154
Sturgeon Lake 2657 1347 0
Sucker Creek 2377 684 8
Swan River 1100 360 0
Tallcree 1070 506 3
Woodland Cree 971 700 32
Total 102691 63225 2775

View table details »
Source: Indian Registry, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2008