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Reserves in Alberta

There are 138 reserves in Alberta. Members of Alberta’s 47 First Nations live in these communities. In addition, two First Nations — Salt River and Onion Lake Cree — are based in other provinces or territories, but have reserve land in Alberta. In 2018, there were 129,962 registered Indians living in Alberta, 61 per cent of whom lived on reserves. The remainder live in other municipalities. First Nations in Alberta are typically grouped into three areas based on Treaties 6, 7 and 8 (see also Numbered Treaties). While historically the Canadian government assigned reserves to First Nations people and not Métis or Inuit, Alberta is the only province in which Métis people were given a collective land base (see Métis Settlements).

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Reserves in Quebec

There are 30 reserves in Quebec, held by 25 First Nations. In addition, there are 15 Inuit, 9 Cree and 1 Naskapi community whose lands fall under the jurisdiction of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement. Because they are not governed by the Indian Act, these communities are technically not reserves. There are also five First Nations in Quebec that do not have reserve lands (Long Point First Nation, Communauté anicinape de Kitcisakik, Wolf Lake First Nation, Montagnais de Pakua Shipi and Nation MicMac de Gespeg). This is the largest number of First Nations without reserve land of any province. Finally, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has a reserve that is partly in Quebec, Ontario and New York state. As of 2018, there are 89,724 registered Indians in Quebec, 65 per cent of whom live on reserve.

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Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe)

The Kainai (G-ai-nah) Nation, otherwise known as the Blood Tribe, is a First Nation based in southern Alberta. Kainai Nation holds two reserves, Blood 148 and Blood 148A. Blood 148, the nation’s primary reserve, is the largest First Nation reserve by area in Canada. It covers 1,342.9 km², and is located southwest of the city of Lethbridge, north of the town of Cardston, and east of Pincher Creek. The nation’s second reserve is known as a “timber limit” and is used for hunting and fishing. As of 2020, there are 8,517 people living on the primary reserve, making it one of the most populous reserves in Canada. In total, Kainai Nation has 12,693 registered band members. (See also Reserves in Alberta.)

The Kainai Nation is a signatory to Treaty 7. Mi’k ai’stoowa (Red Crow) signed on behalf of the nation in 1877. (See also History of Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe).)

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Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory is a reserve located on the eastern peninsula of Manitoulin Island in Ontario. The reserve is held by the Wiikwemkoong First Nation, which is composed of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples. Together, these nations form the Three Fires Confederacy. As an unceded reserve, Wiikwemkoong has not relinquished its land through treaty or other means. (See also Reserves in Ontario.)

The Wiikwemkoong First Nation has a registered population of 8,330, with an on-reserve population of 3,208 (2020). Formerly known as Manitoulin Island Unceded Indian Reserve, the reserve changed its name to Wiikwemkong Unceded Indian Reserve in 1968 when it amalgamated with Point Grondine First Nation and South Bay First Nation. The name was changed again, in 2014, to its current name, though the federal government still refers to the reserve as the Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve.

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Reserves in Nova Scotia

There are 13 First Nation communities in Nova Scotia. Spread over 42 reserves and settlements, these communities range from Acadia First Nation in the southwest to Membertou First Nation in northeastern Cape Breton. Of Nova Scotia’s 19,090 registered Mi’kmaq (in 2018), 10,878 live on reserve. Eight of these communities are on mainland Nova Scotia, and five are in Cape Breton. Their reserves vary in size from over 3,500 hectares to less than one, though almost every community has more than one land tract. Nova Scotia is unusual for the makeup of its on-reserve First Nation communities, in that they are all Mi’kmaq. In terms of the number of First Nation communities, Nova Scotia is comparable to New Brunswick (with 15 First Nations) and Yukon (18 First Nations). Other provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, have many more First Nation communities (127 and nearly 200, respectively), while those like Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have significantly fewer (two and four, respectively).

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Six Nations of the Grand River

Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, is the common name for both a reserve and a Haudenosaunee First Nation. The reserve, legally known as Six Nations Indian Reserve No. 40, is just over 182 km2, located along the Grand River in southwestern Ontario. As of 2019, Six Nations has 27,559 registered band members, 12,892 of whom live on-reserve. Six Nations is the largest First Nations reserve in Canada by population, and the second largest by size. There are several individual communities within the reserve, the largest of which is Ohsweken, with a population of approximately 1,500. (See also Reserves in Ontario.)

Six Nations is home to the six individual nations that form the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Confederacy (Haudenosaunee). These nations are the Kanyen’kehaka (Mohawk), Onyota’a:ka (Oneida), Onöñda’gega’ (Onondaga), Gayogohono (Cayuga), Onöndowága’ (Seneca) and Skaru:reh (Tuscarora).

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Reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to two First Nation groups: the Mi’kmaq living on the island of Newfoundland, and the Innu, living in central and northern Labrador. The province has three reserves. Two of the reserves are Innu: the Sheshatshiu and Natuashish reserves are home to the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and Mushuau Innu First Nation respectively. The third, Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi (commonly known as Miawpukek, or in English, Conne River), is Mi’kmaq. Indigenous people live in these communities, as well as in other, non-Indigenous communities throughout the province. As of March 2019, there were 28,293 registered Indians living in Newfoundland and Labrador, 12 per cent of whom lived on reserve. One reason the province has a relatively small on-reserve population is because the Qalipu Mi’kmaq, a band from the West Coast of Newfoundland and one of the largest in the country, does not have reserve lands. Labrador is also home to many Inuit communities who, like Inuit living in other parts of the country, do not have reserves.

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Reserves in Ontario

There are 205 reserves in Ontario, held by 123 First Nations. In 2018, there were 215,205 registered Indians living in Ontario, 46 per cent of whom lived on reserves. Reserves in Ontario are held by Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Haudenosaunee, Delaware and Algonquin peoples. There are also a handful of First Nations in Ontario who, for a variety of reasons, do not have reserve land.

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Reserves in Manitoba

There are 376 reserves in Manitoba, held by 63 First Nations. In addition, Animakee Wa Zhing, a First Nation based in Ontario, has a reserve that straddles the Ontario-Manitoba border. As of 2018, there are 160,595 registered Indians in Manitoba, 59 per cent of whom live on-reserve. Manitoba is also a key part of the Métis Nation’s homeland and has a large Métis population. However, for a variety of historical reasons, Métis do not hold reserves (see Métis Scrip in CanadaManitoba Act of 1870).

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Reserves in the Northwest Territories

There are two reserves in the Northwest Territories. In addition, of the territory’s remaining 32 communities, 28 have a majority Indigenous population. Dene, Inuvialuit and Métis people are the primary Indigenous groups living in these communities. The territory’s two reserves are Hay River Dene 1, held by the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, and Salt River No. 195, held by the Salt River First Nation. The Northwest Territories differs from much of southern Canada, where several provinces have hundreds of reserves, and where large percentages of First Nations people live in these communities. While Treaty 8 and Treaty 11 — which taken together cover most of the territory — provided for reserves, none were created in the years immediately following their signing. The reasons for the limited number of reserves in such a large region are rooted in a complicated history.

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