Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Indigenous Information and Terms

As we enter National Indigenous History Month I thought that a few of you might be interested in some of the resources I've found, and a clarification of which terms to use when talking about indigenous people.  My own resolution for June is to learn a little bit more about the Indigenous people who share our land.

The best information resources I've found are the two below.  By exploring these I think you can learn a great deal.  Sorry I couldn't get the links to work; you'll just have to google things as I suggest.

To find the Canadian government site google 'National Indigenous Peoples Month'.  It has links to a wide range of information sources, notably for my interest a very good resource on Indigenous history.

For the Ontario government website google 'Ontario celebrates National Indigenous History Month'. 

I'm sure you'll find others if you just use that google search!


As you may have noticed I have used the term Indigenous here.  It has become the most widely accepted term for describing the peoples who were here before white settlers and share our land.  It is particularly popular in an international context such as its use by the United Nations.  Normally it should be capitalized just as you would capitalize English or French when talking about those ethnic groups/

The term First Nations has a narrower meaning, referring to those 'Indians' (as defined by the Indian Act) who are in communities living on reserves.  It refers back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which is the legal foundation for today's communities, where the term 'Nations' was first used.  I have written about this previously.  First Nations do not include the Inuit or Metis, who are not covered by the Indian Act.  

The term 'Indian' is widely considered pejorative today, but it is used in the Indian Act and therefore continues to be used in that context, such as references to 'status Indians' and 'non-status Indians'.  The term aboriginal is more recent and more acceptable, after being used on the Canadian Constitutional Act of 1982.  The term Indigenous is the most widely acceptable.  The term native is still widely used, but some find it insulting and another reminder of exploitation suffered over the years.

Still, there are nuances to all of this, and using the word that local groups prefer is best.  It is not appropriate to refer to 'Canada's Indigenous Peoples' or 'our Indigenous People' because that smacks of the colonialism of the past 400 years!  They do not belong to us; we share their land.

I found the Queen's University discussion of terminology the most useful.  

And for those of you who want to see some nice pictures in my blog, here you are.


  1. The horses are beauties. Reminds me of Faith one of the horses around here.

  2. The Europeans who settled most of North America treated the people who were already here horribly and, although things have improved, their descendants are still not treated well. It seems that the way of the world; hopefully that will change but ...

    Those are very nice looking Belgians, and a foal makes three.

  3. Beautiful horses and the wee foal, a reminder that life continues with us and animals alike, no matter the previous sadnesses that went on for years.

  4. I am one of many, guilty in not knowing of the indigenous peoples traumatic history. Like so many my age, we started out years ago playing Cowboys and Indians and were unknowingly launched down a road of mistruths, ignorance, deception, lies, and unrealities. Some saw that false road for what it truly was and many of us didn't. And if we did, too many of us were too busy with our own lives to ask the questions that desperately needed to be asked. Thank heavens a few people out here like yourself have taken it upon themselves to inform the rest of us of the atrocities and indignities of the very people we share this land with.

  5. So that's the reason Inuit and Metis are grouped separately.

  6. Thanks for that detailed explanation. Having worked in a profession where the correct language was important I understand why so much emphasis is placed upon it, though I must admit it became increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest preferred terms as I neared retirement.

  7. Thanks. I didn't know the distinction between Indigenous and First Nations.

  8. What beautiful horses. It seems this is the time for us to become aware of our home countries misdeeds of the past. And thank you for explaining the terminology.

  9. I think we are at a turning point in this country - or at least I hope we are. Perhaps as the truth come out we will be able to come to some reconciliation. Words do matter and so does respect.

    Thanks for this post.

  10. thank you for the explanation of terminology.
    images are exquisite !