The first people to live in Canada were the Aboriginal people. They have passed down many different spiritual beliefs and cultural traditions throughout their generational history. All over the country, they lived. The harsh Canadian climate required many Aboriginals to cooperate, share and respect the environment.
Per the Constitution Act of 1982, Canada recognizes three main groups of Aboriginal peoples: the First Nations and Inuit, the first groups to settle in the country, and the Metis, who emerged after the Europeans settled in Canada. The number of Aboriginal languages is currently more than 53, with most of these spoken only in Canada.
All areas of Canada were home to members of the First Nations. The coasts of Canada provided food and clothing for those who depended on fishing and hunting, while the prairies provided food, clothing, and tools for those who hunted buffalo. In addition, First Nations people who lived in central and eastern Canada hunted and grew vegetable crops. Today, more than half of the First Nations people live on reserves. Others live and work in cities across Canada.
The Inuit inhabit the northern regions of Canada. They adjusted to the cold northern climate and lived by hunting seals, whales, caribou, polar bears and other wild animals. Most Inuit people live in the North today, and some still hunt for food and clothing.
Many of the early French fur traders and some English traders married First Nations women. Their children and descendants are the Metis people. The Metis were essential to the fur trade and developed their own distinct culture on the prairies.
Aboriginal peoples made agreements or treaties with Europeans once the Europeans arrived in Canada. Indigenous peoples gave up their title to their land to gain certain rights and benefits as part of the treaty-making process.
Land usage rights were given exclusively to Aboriginals in most agreements. These lands are solely for Aboriginal people. These areas of land are known as “reserves”. The Canadian government and Aboriginal groups continue negotiating new land agreements and other rights.
Throughout Canada, Aboriginal peoples care for their unique cultures and languages. By becoming self-governed, they are trying to regain control over life-changing decisions. As a result, the role of Aboriginal peoples in building Canada’s future continues to grow.