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Discover: Peoples & Communities (Module 6 of 8)

In the land we now call Canada, the term Indigenous peoples or Aboriginal peoples commonly refer to three groups: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. It's important to recognize that Indigenous peoples are diverse, each with their own unique histories, languages, spiritual beliefs, and culture. Indigenous peoples are one of the fastest growing population groups. According to Statistics Canada's 2021 census, approximately 1.8 million individuals identified themselves as an Indigenous person. 


First Nations

The term First Nations was originally developed by Indigenous Peoples in the 1970s as an alternative for inappropriate terms such as Native and Indian. It refers to individual nations that occupied territories before the arrival of Europeans. It can also be used to describe a reserve or group that is part of a larger nation (Younging). There are 133 First Nations communities located across Ontario, representing at least 7 major cultural and linguistic groups (Government of Canada).

Sources: Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Greg Younging) | Indigenous communities in Ontario (Government of Ontario)

Learn more

  • Ontario First Nations Directory (Chiefs of Ontario) - View all of the 133 First Nations across Ontario.
  • First Nation Profiles (Map) (Government of Canada) - A collection of information that describes individual First Nation communities across Canada. The profiles include general information on a First Nation along with more detailed information about its reserve(s), governance, federal funding, geography, registered population statistics and various Census statistics.

Video: The Word Indigenous - Explained

CBC Kids News reporters Sid and Ruby explain the word "Indigenous" and provide an overview of the different Indigenous nations and communities in Canada.


Métis are one of the three recognized Indigenous Peoples in Canada, along with First Nations and Inuit. The word métis in the French language refers to individuals with mixed Indigenous and European heritage. However, being Métis goes beyond heritage and includes a "distinct collective identity, customs and way of life, unique from Indigenous or European roots" (CBC). 

Source: Exploring Identity: Who are the Métis and what are their rights? (CBC)

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Video: Who are the Métis?

Who is and who isn't “Métis” is a controversial topic. We hear different perspectives from the Cabinet Minister of the Manitoba Métis Federation and the self-described Grand Chief of an Eastern Métis organization from Nova Scotia.


"The Inuit — Inuktitut for the people — are an Indigenous people, the majority of whom inhabit the northern regions of Canada. An Inuit person is known as an Inuk. The Inuit homeland is known as Inuit Nunangat, which refers to the land, water and ice contained in the Arctic region" (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Source: Inuit (Canadian Encyclopedia)

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Video: Inuit History, Culture and the Formation of Nunavut

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Nunavut, we are sharing an interview with Piita Irniq, a highly respected Inuit Elder, a prominent spokesperson for the Inuit community and the second commissioner of Nunavut.