Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place.
The Canadian Constitution of 1982 recognizes the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people as three distinct Indigenous groups within Canada.
First Nations is a term used to describe Indigenous peoples in Canada who are not Métis or Inuit. There are 634 recognized First Nations band governments across Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages. Most of the First Nations band governments are primarily located in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar people inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.
“In Canada, the Inuit live throughout most of Northern Canada in the territory of Nunavut, Nunavik in the northern third of Quebec, Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut in Labrador and in various parts of the Northwest Territories, particularly around the Arctic Ocean, in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.”
Since the 18th century, the word Metis has been used to describe individuals with mixed Indigenous and European ancestry.
What distinguishes Métis people from everyone else is that they associate themselves with a culture that is distinctly Métis, which originates from mixed descendants of the Indigenous peoples and European fur traders who settled in present-day Manitoba. There are others outside of the Métis Nation who also identify as Métis, particularly in Quebec and the Maritimes.
As of 2016, Indigenous peoples in Canada total approximately 1.67 million people, yet this number represents only approximately 4.9% of the national population.
We all share this land that was originally inhabited by the Indigenous people of Canada. As we become more aware and make a choice to take action to discover the truth of this past with genuine acceptance, we can then move forward with a new perspective that encompasses a deeper understanding of the lingering ripple effects abuse of power has on the spirit and soul of a people, community, and nation.