WHO ARE THE FIRST NATIONS?
The First Nations of Canada are made up of 634 individual nations in all provinces and territories, based on fifty tribal groupings such as Cree, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), and Huron. First Nations inhabitants are people of Indigenous descent who are neither Métis nor Inuit.
In the 2011 census, 851,560 people identified as First Nations. Most (697,505) held registered or treaty status, and about half lived in First Nations communities, formerly known as reserves. More than sixty Indigenous languages were reported to be in use in Canada.
Many First Nations are in the process of developing self-government agreements with Canada, and all are accountable to the Canadian government for public funding.
The federal government has allocated $8.4 billion for the period from 2016 to 2021, with the goal of bringing about what it describes as “transformational change.” In August 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans for the creation of two new departments: Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
The other Indigenous groupings in Canada are the Métis and Inuit. Métis people numbered 451,795 in 2011 and were spread across Canada. The Inuit population of 59,446 lives primarily in Nunavut.
Mohawks from Kahnawake, Quebec, celebrate National Aboriginal Day in Montreal on June 21, 2016.