Life of Expectancy

A Culturally-Relevant Perspective on This Issue

Introduction

Life expectancy is the average number of years a person is expected to live at birth (LEo) or at 65, based on average age-specific mortality rate for a period of time, usually a calendar year [1, 2]. Life expectancy is used as a basic measure of the health of a population. In general, Aboriginal people have a life expectancy that is much lower than the general population [3,4].

First Nations

The LEo for the First Nations population has slowly increased over time, but is still lower than that of the general Canadian population. The LEo for First Nations people in 2000 was 76 for females and 69 for males, compared to 82 years for females and 77 for males in the general population. [3]. Remote dwelling and access to health care facilities alone does not appear to account for the differences in life expectancy among the First Nations population and the general Canadian population. The interaction between poverty, oppression, and other health determinants may help explain this discrepancy [5].

Métis

The life expectancy data for Métis in Canada are unknown at this time [6].

Inuit

Life expectancy data for Inuit are not collected nationally, but instead have been collected for the Territories and Provinces separately over different periods of time [7].  A 2001 Statistics Canada study used a geography-based approach to estimate the life expectancy for the Inuit population. The LEo in 2001 was 77 years for the total population, 70 years for women and 64 years for men. This is more than ten years lower than the LEo of the general population for the same year (82 years for women, and 77 years for men)[4]. The LEo ranged significantly across Inuit regions, with Nunavik (the northern third of Quebec) having the lowest LEo of 63 years compared to Inuvialuit with a LEo of 70 years. Inuvialuit settlement region lies in the northern portion of the Northwest Territories extending from the Alaskan border to the western Canadian Arctic Islands.

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