Key Terms

  • Aboriginal Peoples: Descendents of Canada’s original inhabitants
  • Treaty: An official agreement between the federal government and the First Nations – Aboriginal people give up their land rights (except for reserves) and accept treaty money/government assistance
  • Reserve: Area of land set aside for status Indians
  • Assimilate: To lose your culture and adopt the culture of the larger (dominant) group (i.e. First Nations adopting modern Canadian culture – language, clothing, values, social practices, etc.)

Key Facts

  • Aboriginal population in Canada – Just over 1 million people, and rising!
  • They currently occupy less than 1% of the land in Canada (living on reserves)
  • Aboriginals signed treaties in hopes of accomplishing 2 goals:
  • To maintain an economic base – Retain access to enough land to support themselves (fishing, hunting, farming)
  • Wanted self-governmentThe right to control their own affairs (rather than having the government make all the decisions regarding how they should live)

The federal government divided Native peoples into 3 groups:

  • Indian/First Nations: Divided into 2 groups:
  • Status Indians: entitled to certain rights through treaties made with the federal government
  • Non-Status Indians: Aren’t covered by treaties
  • This group includes the following tribes: the Dene, the Algonkian and the Pacific and Mountain tribes
  • Inuit: Aboriginal people living in the Arctic region in Canada (areas of Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec). previously referred to as “Eskimos” – they prefer the term “Inuit” which means “the people” in their language, Inuktitut.
  • Métis: Mixed Aboriginal and European descent. Most live in the Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan), and west central North America.

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