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Plains Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The Plains cultural area is a vast territory that extends from southern Manitoba and the Mississippi River westward to the Rocky Mountains, and from the North Saskatchewan River south into Texas. The term “Plains peoples” describes a number of different and unique Indigenous nations, including the Siksika, Cree, Ojibwe, Assiniboine (Nakota) and Dakota.

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Stanley Vollant

Stanley Vollant, CQ, Innu surgeon, professor and lecturer (born 2 April 1965 in Quebec City, Quebec). Vollant is the first Indigenous surgeon trained in Quebec. In 1996, he received a National Aboriginal Role Model Award from the Governor General of Canada. Vollant began Innu Meshkenu in 2010, a 6,000 km walk to promote the teachings of First Nations and to encourage Indigenous young people to pursue their dreams. In 2016, he founded the non-profit organization Puamun Meshkenu to inspire and support Indigenous peoples in their mental and physical health.

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Indigenous Peoples' Medicine in Canada

Since time immemorial Indigenous peoples in Canada have been using plants and other natural materials as medicine. Plant medicines are used more frequently than those derived from animals. In all, Indigenous peoples have identified over 400 different species of plants (as well as lichens, fungi and algae) with medicinal applications. Medicine traditions — the plants used, the ailments treated, protocols for harvesting and application, and modes of preparation — are similar for Indigenous peoples across the country. In many Indigenous communities, there are recognized specialists trained in traditional medicine, and their practice often reflects spiritual aspects of healing as well as physical outcomes. In many cases, the therapeutic properties of Indigenous medicines are attributable to particular compounds and their effects on the body, but in other instances, their application is little understood by western medical practitioners. Within Indigenous communities, specific methods of harvesting and preparation of medicines are considered intellectual property of particular individuals or families.

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Tupiq

Historically, Inuit used a simple tent, known as a tupiq (the plural form is tupiit), while travelling or hunting during the summer months. Today, the traditional tupiq is rarely used (because modern variations have largely replaced it), but some Inuit elders and communities are working to keep the tupiq, and other Inuit traditions, alive. (See also  Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Indian Status

Indian Status is a legal identity defined by the Indian Act. It applies to some Indigenous peoples in Canada. People with status, known as Status Indians (or Registered Indians), fit the criteria for status as laid out in the Act. The terms of status — including who is considered Indian under the law — have changed overtime. Outside legal contexts, Indian is a term that is now considered outdated and offensive.

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Eenoolooapik

Eenoolooapik, also known as Bobbie, Inuk traveller, guide (born circa 1820 in Qimisuk [or Qimmiqsut], Cumberland Sound, NT; died in 1847 in Cumberland Sound, NU). Eenoolooapik provided British whaling captain William Penny with a map of Cumberland Sound that led to the rediscovery of that area 255 years after English explorer John Davis first saw it. The geographic information Eenoolooapik provided to whalers led to years of permanent whaling camps in Cumberland Sound.

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Indigenous Peoples in Canada

In Canada, the term Indigenous peoples (or Aboriginal peoples) refers to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. These are the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada. In the 2016 census by Statistics Canada, over 1.6 million people in Canada identified as Indigenous, making up 4.9 per cent of the national population. Though severely threatened — and in certain cases extinguished — by colonial forces, Indigenous culture, language and social systems have shaped the development of Canada and continue to grow and thrive despite extreme adversity.

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Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Genocide is the intentional destruction of a particular group through killing, serious physical or mental harm, preventing births and/or forcibly transferring children to another group. The term has been applied to the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly in the final reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see also Residential Schools) and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.

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Indian Act

The Indian Act is the primary law the federal government uses to administer Indian status, local First Nations governments and the management of reserve land. It also outlines governmental obligations to First Nations peoples. The Indian Act pertains to people with Indian Status; it does not directly reference non-status First Nations people, the Métis or Inuit. First introduced in 1876, the Act subsumed a number of colonial laws that aimed to eliminate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act has been amended several times, most significantly in 1951 and 1985, with changes mainly focusing on the removal of discriminatory sections. It is an evolving, paradoxical document that has enabled trauma, human rights violations and social and cultural disruption for generations of Indigenous peoples.

This is the full-length entry about the Indian Act. For a plain language summary, please seeIndian Act (Plain Language Summary).

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Oronhyatekha

Oronhyatekha (pronounced O-RON-ya-day-ga, meaning "Burning Sky" or “Burning Cloud”), also known as Peter Martin, a Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) medical doctor and businessman (born 10 August 1841 on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve near Brantford, Canada West [now Ontario]; died 3 March 1907 in Savannah, Georgia, US). In 1867, Oronhyatekha became the second Indigenous person in Canada to earn a medical degree. Passionate about Indigenous issues, he was elected to the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec in 1872, where he fought against the restrictive measures of the Indian Act. Oronhyatekha was also a businessman and, in 1881, headed the Independent Order of Foresters.

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Intergenerational Trauma and Residential Schools

Historical trauma occurs when trauma caused by historical oppression is passed down through generations. For more than 100 years, the Canadian government supported residential school programs that isolated Indigenous children from their families and communities (see Residential Schools in Canada). Under the guise of educating and preparing Indigenous children for their participation in Canadian society, the federal government and other administrators of the residential school system committed what has since been described as an act of cultural genocide. As generations of students left these institutions, they returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. This is called intergenerational trauma.

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Ditidaht

Ditidaht (meaning “people along the way” or “people along the coast” in their language) is a Nuu-chah-nulth nation residing on the west coast of Vancouver Island. At present, the main permanently occupied Ditidaht village is situated in Malachan, a settlement that lies at the head of Nitinat Lake. As of September 2018, the federal government counts 781 registered members of the Ditidaht nation.

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Tla-o-qui-aht (Clayoquot)

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (meaning the “people from Clayoqua” or the people from “Tla-o-qui”) are a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Tla-o-qui-aht territory is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. As of September 2018, the nation has a registered population of 1,147 registered members.

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Kyuquot and Checleseht First Nations

The Kyuquot (Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’) and Checleseht (Chek’tles7et’h’) First Nations make up the northernmost Nuu-chah-nulth communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Once separate bands, the Kyuquot and Checleseht officially amalgamated in 1962. Both are currently self-governing nations under the Maa-nulth Treaty.

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Hesquiaht

The Hesquiaht are Indigenous people residing on the west coast of Vancouver Island. “Hesquiaht” is an English version of the Nuu-chah-nulth word, heish-heish-a, which means, “to tear asunder with the teeth.” This refers to the technique of stripping herring spawn away from eel grass, which grew near Hesquiaht territory. Part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the Hesquiaht number 747 registered members, as of 2018.

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Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet) First Nation

Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (formerly known as Ucluelet, Yuu-tluth-aht and Yu’lu’il’ath) are a Nuu-chah-nulth nation from west Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island. As of September 2018, there were 677 registered members, 452 of whom live off reserve. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, along with several other Nuu-chah-nulth nations, have signed the Maa-nulth treaty, which has provided them with self-governance since April 2011.

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Hupacasath (Opetchesaht)

The Hupacasath (Hupač̓asatḥ, formerly Opetchesaht) are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation residing in the Alberni Valley, Vancouver Island, BC. According to the nation, Hupacasath means “people residing above the water.” In September 2018, the federal government reported that there were 332 registered members of the Hupacasath Nation.

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