At Home: Canada’s aboriginal population has risen at an exceptional rate
A recent report released by Statistics Canada shows that the total number of Aboriginal Canadians has reached the one million mark?an increase of 45 per cent over the last ten years. Comparatively speaking, this means that the native population (this includes people grouped under Indian, Metis, or Inuit) is growing six times faster than other ethnic groups within Canada.
Rosemary Blender of Statistics Canada said that one of the reasons she believes this number has risen so sharply is that more and more Canadians are officially stating their native ancestry, where in recent years Aboriginals have neglected to take part in government surveys.
The survey results have also shown a shifting lifestyle for many Aboriginal families; fewer natives are living in crowded conditions with more than one person living in one room; more families and individuals are living in urban areas; and, in total, more than half of the Aboriginal population is living off-reserve.
Currently, 54 per cent of native people are living in urban areas, up from 50 per cent in 1996; 81 per cent of non-Aboriginal Canadians lived in urban areas in 2006. Also comparatively speaking, the median age of Aboriginal Canadians is 27; the non-Aboriginal median age is 40.
The Turtle Island Native Network has commented on the StatsCan findings, noting the high increase in the overall native population and the shift from reserves to urban centres.
In particular, the community highlighted the overwhelming explosion of the Metis population?between 1996 and 2001, this group experienced the greatest population gains, with an increase of 43 per cent.
Despite Blender’s assertion that more Aboriginals took part in the last survey than in recent years, the Network pointed out that ?22 reserve-based communities did not participate in the 2006 census.?
In Foreign News: Austrian chimp cannot gain ?person? status
A chimpanzee named Matthew is the subject of a legal battle in Austria because his home, an animal shelter, is closing down and leaving him homeless.
Determined that Matthew should not be given to a zoo or a medical testing facility, the animal rights group Association Against Animal Factories is trying to find an alternative home for the chimp, who was smuggled into Austria from Sierra Leone for use in animal testing before the illegal shipment was intercepted. At the time, Matthew was handed over to the shelter, where he has been living for 25 years. The animal rights group has decided to pursue legal action that would have Matthew declared a person under Austrian law so that they can effectively monitor his safety in the future.
Although independent groups and individual donors have offered to provide the funds necessary to sustain the chimp after he becomes homeless, under Austrian law no party can receive such donations unless they are legally a person. Thus, the Association Against Animal Factories wants to have Matthew declared a person and subsequently become his guardian.
The group has lost the battle in Austrian courts but will take the issue up with the European Court of Human Rights. If this case is ultimately lost, the chimp faces an uncertain future in which he may be sold outside the country.
Lowering the Bar suggests that this plan is not altogether farfetched; there is a precedent in European courts to offer a level of rights to animals that equate to basic human rights, and at least two countries have actually amended their constitutions to include such legislation.
The chimp in question, known officially as Matthew Hiasl Pan, may have a donation fund set up for him in the event that the Association Against Animal Factories is successful in its venture. But for now, his fate is in the hands of the European court.