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)
First Nations Spirituality

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.
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Canada’s Aboriginal Communities," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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