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Nuxalk (Bella Coola)

The Nuxalk are an Indigenous people in Canada. Their traditional territories are in and around Bella Coola, British Columbia. The term "Bella Coola" once referred collectively to the Nuxalk, Talio, Kimsquit and some Kwatna who inhabited villages around North Bentinck Arm and the Bella Coola Valley, South Bentinck Arm, Dean Channel and Kwatna Inlet. Since the late 1970s, the Nuxalk have called themselves the Nuxalk Nation, derived from the term that in earlier times referred exclusively to the people of the Bella Coola Valley. In 2020, the Government of Canada reported the registered population of Nuxalk was 1,741, with 899 people living on reserve. (See also First Nations and Northwest Coast Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet)

Wolastoqiyik (also Welastekwewiyik or Welustuk), meaning “people of the beautiful river” in their language, have long resided along the Saint John River in New Brunswick and Maine, and the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Historically, the Europeans referred to the Wolastoqiyik by a Mi’kmaq word, Maliseet (or Malecite), roughly translating to English as “broken talkers.” The name indicates that, according to the Mi’kmaq, the Wolastoqiyik language is a “broken” version of their own. Today, there are six Wolastoqiyik Maritime communities in Canada and one in Maine. In the 2016 census, 7,635 people identified as having Wolastoqiyik ancestry.

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Chief

Chief is a word used to denote status or leadership upon an individual in a group, clan or family. The origin of the word is European; colonists used it to refer to the leaders of Indigenous nations during the era of contact. While different Indigenous nations have their own terms for chief, the English version of the word is still used widely to describe leaders tasked with promoting cultural and political autonomy. The term is also used by institutions and organizations that are not exclusively Indigenous to refer to heads of staff (e.g., chief of police, commander-in-chief, chief executive officer). This article explores the historical and contemporary uses of the term in the Indigenous context.

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Heiltsuk (Bella Bella)

The Heiltsuk are Indigenous people who have occupied a part of the central coast of British Columbia in the vicinity of Milbanke Sound and Fisher Channel. Historically, Europeans referred to the Heiltsuk as the Bella Bella, a term anglicized from the name of a site located near the present-day community of the same name. In the 2016 census, 1,835 people identified as having Heiltsuk ancestry.

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Tahltan

Tahltan are Dene, an Indigenous people in Canada. Tahltan have traditionally occupied an area of northwestern British Columbia centered on the Stikine River. Although the Tahltan use several terms to refer to themselves, the designation "Tahltan" comes from the language of their neighbours, the Tlingit. Today, the Tahltan Central Government represents the interests of the Tahltan members, both on and off reserve.

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First Nations

First Nations is a term used to describe Indigenous peoples in Canada who are not Métis or  Inuit. First Nations people are original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada, and were the first to encounter sustained European contact, settlement and trade. 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. There are 634 First Nations in Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages.

For more detailed information on specific First Nations, see Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

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Cayuga

The Cayuga (also known as Guyohkohnyo and Gayogohó:no', meaning “People of the Pipe” or “People of the Great Swamp”) are Indigenous peoples who have traditionally occupied territories along the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River and south into the Finger Lakes district of New York State. The Cayuga are one of six First Nations that make up the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

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Central Coast Salish

Central Coast Salish peoples historically occupied and continue to reside in territories around the Lower Fraser Valley and on southeast Vancouver Island in Canada. They include the Squamish, Klallum, Halkomelem and Northern Straits peoples.

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Siksika (Blackfoot)

The Siksika, also known as the Blackfoot (or Blackfeet in the United States), are one of the three nations that make up the Blackfoot Confederacy (the other two are the Piikani and Kainai). In the Blackfoot language, Siksika means “Blackfoot.” As of 2018, the Siksika registered population is 7,497, with 4,095 living on reserve in Alberta.

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Algonquin

The Algonquin are Indigenous peoples that have traditionally occupied parts of western Quebec and Ontario, centring on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Algonquin should not be confused with Algonquian, which refers to a larger linguistic and cultural group, including First Nations such as Innu and Cree. In the 2016 census, 40,880 people identified as having Algonquin ancestry.

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Northern Coast Salish

Northern Coast Salish peoples live along the northern half of the Strait of Georgia, east-central Vancouver Island and the western part of the mainland. Northern Coast Salish peoples include the Pentlatch, K’ómoks (Comox) and Shíshálh (Sechelt).

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Demasduwit

Demasduwit (also known as Shendoreth, Waunathoake, Mary March), one of the last of the Beothuk (born 1796; died 8 January 1820 at Bay of Exploits, Newfoundland). Demasduwit helped to preserve the Beothuk language and culture. In 2007, the Canadian government recognized her as a person of national historic significance.

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Cree

The Cree (Nehiyawak in the Cree language) are the most populous and widely distributed Indigenous peoples in Canada. Cree First Nations occupy territory in the Subarctic region from Alberta to Québec, as well as portions of the Plains region in Alberta and Saskatchewan. According to 2016 census data, 356,655 people identified as having Cree ancestry and 96,575 people speak the Cree language.

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Piikani

Piikani (Peigan, Pikuni, Piikuni) are one of the three nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy. (The other two are the Siksika and Kainai.) The Piikani once occupied a vast hunting ground which ranged along the foothills Rocky Mountain House to Heart Butte, Montana, and extended eastward onto the Plains. According to the Piikani Nation, there are about 3,600 registered members living and working both on and off their reserves located near Pincher Creek, Alberta.

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Arctic Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The term Arctic peoples in Canada generally refers to the Inuit population, descendants of the Thule people, who lived in the Arctic from 400 to 1,000 years ago. The Inuit refer to their homeland as Inuit Nunangat. In 2011, there were nearly 60,000 Inuit in Canada, 73 per cent of whom lived in Inuit Nunangat.

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Oneida

The Oneida (Onyota’a:ka “People of the Standing Stone”) are an Indigenous nation in Canada. The Oneida are one the five original nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Historically, the Oneida occupied a village near Oneida Lake in New York state. They also occupy territory in southwestern Ontario. Oneida people live both on and off reserves. As of 2020, the Government of Canada reported 8,464 registered members of Oneida communities. (See also First Nations and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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