The indigenous people of Canada area also known as the aboriginal people of the country. Currently there are around 1.67 million indigenous people in Canada of which almost 1 million are First Nations people, 590,000 are Metis people and 66,000 are Inuit’s. These three broad categories of different peoples does not include the many varieties of different groups that actually exist in the country. Generally speaking the Inuit’s occupy the Arctic and northern regions of the country, the First Nations people occupy everywhere else south of the Arctic, and the Metis have descended from European and Indigenous parents.
By far the largest group are the First Nations people. However, the groups is made up of 634 different peoples speaking 50 distinct languages. The term First Nation came into use in the 1980s to replace the term Indian, as some Canadians viewed its use as being insulting. The Blackfoot confederacies reside in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan plus spreading into Montana in the United States. They get their name from the color of their moccasins, their footwear, which are dyed black. They survived on both the plains and the woodlands depending on where they lived.
Another group that were both found in Canada and in the States were the Iroquois influence. They lived from New York State to Ontario and Quebec. They were adept at cultivation using the rich local soils in the region and due to the success of their farming practices it allowed large population to be sustained. Some groups did not get on harmoniously. The Assiniboine occupied areas of Saskatchewan, Alberta and North Dakota in the States. They were nomadic hunters searching the vast plains for bison which they hunted on their horses.
They formed an alliance with the Cree which was known as the iron confederacy, and in the 18th century they were in conflict with the Gros Ventre, who were also hunters on the plain using horses to hunt. The conflict was due to both parties wanted exclusive access to the declining numbers of bison on the plain. There was little conflict between the First Nations people and the Europeans, as opposed to the difficulties the Europeans were experiencing with the local populations further south in America. The trade that was being agreed between the indigenous populations and the Europeans was central to the good relations.
This resulted in many mixed relationships and new families started to produce children of mixed ethnicity. These people today are known as the Metis people of which almost 600,000 remain today. The General pattern of the Metis was European father with First Nations mother. Originally there were either French Metis or Anglo Metis, which distinguished between whether the father was French or British. Since the first occurrence of Metis being born there have been many occasions where the marriages have continued to spread the aboriginal blood through the nation. Today it is estimated that 50% of all Canadians have some type of aboriginal blood in them.
The Inuit people inhabit the arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. The term Eskimo is no longer used and all Eskimos are known as Inuit people. The Inuit live in the northern regions of Quebec, Nunatsiavut and Nunatukavut in Labrador and various parts of the North West Terrirories. The area where they live is known in Inukitut as Inuit Nunangat. Inukitut is one of the principle languages of the Inuit and they also have their own sign language. The most contact Inuit have had with Europeans have been those who have lived in Labrador. A lot of the early contacts have been fisherman attracted into the area to hunt for whales.
Today’s Inuit population try to live a traditional lie style with certain western influences, such as schools implemented in their community. The staple diet is fish and includes the fatty content of whale, walruses and seals. The average life spent of an Inuit is around 15 years shorter than an average Canadian. Few countries in the world have a closer relationship with their indigenous people than the Canadians. The early positive trade relations and inter-ethnic families has meant that indigenous groups have had a strong input into the development of their country.