1st Nation Peoples of Canada




Aboriginal peoples in Canada, or Aboriginal Canadians, (also known as Indigenous peoples in Canada and Indigenous Canadians) are the indigenous peoples within the boundaries of present-day Canada. They comprise the First NationsInuit and Métis. Although “Indian” is a term still commonly used in legal documents, the descriptors “Indian” and “Eskimo” have somewhat fallen into disuse in Canada and are sometimes considered pejorative.

Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are some of the earliest known sites of human habitation in Canada. The Paleo-Indian Clovis, Plano and Pre-Dorset cultures pre-date current indigenous peoples of the Americas. Projectile point tools, spears, pottery, bangles, chisels and scrapers mark archaeological sites, thus distinguishing cultural periods, traditions and lithic reduction styles.

The characteristics of Canadian Aboriginal culture included permanent settlements, agriculture, civic and ceremonial architecture, complex societal hierarchies and trading networks. The Métis culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17th century when First Nation and Inuit people married Europeans.[12] The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during that early period.[13]Various laws, treaties, and legislation have been enacted between European immigrants and First Nations across Canada. Aboriginal Right to Self-Government provides opportunity to manage historical, cultural, political, health care and economic control aspects within first people’s communities.

As of the 2011 census, Aboriginal peoples in Canada totaled 1,400,685 people, or 4.3% of the national population, spread over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands with distinctive cultures, languages, art, and music.[1][14] National Aboriginal Day recognizes the cultures and contributions of Aboriginal peoples to the history of Canada.[15] First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of all backgrounds have become prominent figures and have served as role models in the Aboriginal community and help to shape the Canadian cultural identity.


Canada’s Native people are still referred to officially  in three broad categories by government for administrative purposes, and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

  • The Inuit are the people who originally lived in the Arctic. Their language is Inuktitut, but it has several dialects the differ considerably from place to place.
  • The First Nations were called “Indians” by Christopher Columbus when he landed in North America, because he thought he had reached India. Many now prefer to call themselves First Nations, though many still call themselves Indians in everyday conversation.

    They are still legally categorized by the Canadian Government under the Indian Act as Status Indians. Those who have lost their legal status are called Non-Status Indians. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tried to get rid of the Indian Act, but First Nations political groups insisted on keeping it, because it defines their special status.

  • The Métis, are the group of people who resulted from the mixing of European and Native men and women. The Métis developed a unique culture that included elements of both European and Native ways and artifacts (clothes, tools, means of travel, etc.). They pride themselves on their distinctiveness from both the cultures from which they are descended.

In the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s First Peoples are referred to as Indians, Inuit, and Metis. The Charter recognizes the special Aboriginal Rights of Inuit, Indians, and Metis.


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