Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Métis – learning more about Canada’s First Peoples

It is important to take time to learn more about Indigenous history and culture. The Indigenous peoples have lived on this land for thousands of years, long before Europeans ever explored these shores. This blog simply opens the door for you to learn more about the original peoples of Turtle Island and encourages you to dig deeper and learn more. It is also important to note that in many cases, labels or names were developed by the Government of Canada and not necessarily by the original peoples themselves.


‘Indigenous peoples’ is a collective name for the original peoples of Turtle Island and their descendants. These original peoples include First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

In Canada, over 1.67 million people identify themselves as an Indigenous person according to the 2016 Census.

Indigenous peoples are the fasted growing population in Canada.


First Nations

First Nations walked this land for thousands of years. Today, there are more than 630 First Nation communities in Canada, which represent more than 50 Nations and 50 Indigenous languages. Traditionally, First Nations were peoples who lived south of the tree line, and mainly south of the Arctic Circle.

According to the 2016 census by Statistics Canada, 977,230 people in Canada identified as being of First Nations heritage, a growth of 39.3 per cent since 2006.

It is important to note that today, members of various nations more frequently identify by their tribal or national identity only, e.g., “I’m Haida“, or “We’re Kwantlens“, in recognition of the distinct First Nations.

There isn’t just one culture for all First Nations. Each nation has its own culture, customs, traditions and world views. Each nation’s culture is influenced by their experience with the land (Mother Earth), with each other and the Creator.

Through years of colonization and attempts of assimilation outlawing of cultural practices and relocation, First Nations have kept their traditions alive. Today’s youth are embracing their cultures and sharing it with the world.

Notorious Cree :


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Une publication partagée par James Jones (@notoriouscree)


The Inuit have lived in the area known as Inuit Nunangat for 5000 years. This land in Canada’s North covers 36% of Canada’s land mass and 50% of Canada’s coastline.

Inuit is Inuktitut for “the people”. An Inuit person is known as an Inuk.

Four regions make up Inuit Nunangat, the Inuvialuit Settlement Region which is northern Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador) and includes 53 communities.

Inuit were hunters and fishers and to this day, most Inuit prefer “country food”, which includes seal, whale, duck, caribou, fish and berries.

The culture is closely linked with their relationship with the land and the sometimes harsh climate. Inuit culture is resilient and strong, despite the efforts of the colonizers. Today, the language is one of the strongest Indigenous languages in Canada by proportion of speakers. Young artists embrace traditional art forms in contemporary ways through the creation of art/sculpture, throat singing, dance, clothing design featuring seal skin, caribou, and fox.

The Inuit have negotiated several land claims and are forging the way for Inuit self-determination by keeping the language alive, reclaiming cultural ways and place names and having the country listen to their world view.

Follow @proudlyindigenouscrafts to discover more!


The Métis are the third distinct group of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Métis comes from the French word meaning mixed blood. Louis Riel, the legendary Métis leader and Manitoba’s founder, writes that Métis have paternal ancestry from those who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North-West Companies usually French and their maternal ancestry from mothers of First Nations tribes.

They have taken parts of both cultures and created their own distinct culture with their own language called Michif.

In Canada, Métis are mostly found in the three Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.

In 2016, 587,545 people in Canada self-identified as Métis. They represented 35.1% of the total Indigenous population and 1.5% of the total Canadian population.

Like the other distinct groups, the Métis take great pride in their culture. There are known for their distinct language, clothing that includes the arrow sash, fiddle music and jigging and their land based economy.

Here is a look at the Métis sash:

This is a brief look at the three Indigenous distinct societies but hopefully, it will intrigue you to learn more about their history, traditions, language, and culture. It is important to also learn more about the journey to self determination for all Indigenous peoples living on Turtle Island.