Mortality differentials reflect in part the social and economic conditions of groups in society. In this paper, the relationship between ethnic origin and mortality is investigated from the point of view of convergence and minority group status hypotheses. Multivariate methods are used to study differences among the French, the British and Native Indian (includes Metis and Eskimos) populations of Canada over three census periods from 1951 to 1971. A significant downward trend in the death rates of all three subpopulations is noted, but substantial differences persist, as the pace of mortality decline over time varies across the three ethnic groups. In the twenty-year interval between 1951 and 1971, Native Indians have experienced spectacular reductions in their overall death rates, but in comparative terms, their mortality levels still exceed those of the French (who show intermediate levels) and the British ethnic groups. The multivariate analysis provides strong support for the minority status effect, which is taken to suggest that the roots of inequalities in survival probabilities are partly a result of social and economic disparities. The convergence thesis received some support: over time the general pattern is one of declining mortality with some narrowing of the differences. An examination of four broad causes of death (neoplasms, cardiovascular, accidents-violence, and "other") suggests that Native Indians are characteristic of populations undergoing epidemiologic and demographic transitions. Their elevated risk of accidents-violence reflects social disruption in the process of modernization. Causes of death of the French and British populations are characterized by higher risks of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, typical of advanced societies.