A federal official says the Metis are the fastest growing population in Canada.

Social and demographic statistics specialist Jane Badets made that statement during a Senate committee hearing last night.

Badets said between 2001 and 2006, the Metis population increased by 33 per cent.

But she said that’s not necessarily because more Metis people are having more children.

Badets testified that more people are declaring themselves to be Metis, so the numbers are way higher than they used to be.

She said if that trend continues, by 2031, the Metis population could reach at least 500,000 — and maybe as high as 850,000.