First Nations

The First Nations (French: Premières Nations [pʁəmjɛʁ nasjɔ̃]) are groups of Canadian indigenous peoples, who are classified as distinct from the Inuit and Métis.[2] Traditionally, the First Nations were peoples who lived south of the tree line, and mainly south of the Arctic Circle. There are 634[3] recognized First Nations governments or bands across Canada. Roughly half are located in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.[4]

First Nations
Premières Nations





Total population
977,235[1] (Canada census 2016)
Languages
Aboriginal languages
Aboriginal English
Canadian French
Religion
Christianity
Traditional beliefs
Others (see Religion in Canada)
Related ethnic groups
Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Métis

Under Charter jurisprudence, First Nations are a "designated group," along with women, visible minorities, and people with physical or mental disabilities.[5] First Nations are not defined as a visible minority by the criteria of Statistics Canada.[6]

North American indigenous peoples have cultures spanning thousands of years. Some of their oral traditions accurately describe historical events, such as the Cascadia earthquake of 1700 and the 18th-century Tseax Cone eruption. Written records began with the arrival of European explorers and colonists during the Age of Discovery in the late 15th century.[7][8] European accounts by trappers, traders, explorers, and missionaries give important evidence of early contact culture.[9] In addition, archeological and anthropological research, as well as linguistics, have helped scholars piece together an understanding of ancient cultures and historic peoples.

Although not without conflict, early colonists' interactions with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations were less combative than the often violent battles between colonists and native peoples in the United States, and far less than those of other British colonies in modern-day Australia and South Africa.[10]