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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 (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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Princess Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught

Princess Louise Margaret Alexandra Victoria Agnes of Prussia, Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn, vice-regal consort of Canada (1911–16) and philanthropist (born 25 July 1860 in Potsdam, Prussia (now Germany); died 14 March 1917 in London, United Kingdom). The Duchess of Connaught sponsored Red Cross hospitals for the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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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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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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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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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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Viscount Byng of Vimy

Field Marshall Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy, Commander of the Canadian Corps from 1915 to 1917 and Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926 (born 11 September 1862 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; died 6 June 1935 in Essex, United Kingdom). Byng led the Canadian Corps to victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War. As governor general, he is best known for his role in the King-Byng Affair, when he formally refused Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s advice to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election.

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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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Seneca

Seneca, the western-most member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, played a major role in the dispersal of the Huron-Wendat, Petun and Chonnonton in the mid-17th century.

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Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Indigenous treaties in Canada are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Most of these agreements describe exchanges where Indigenous nations agree to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for various payments and promises. On a deeper level, treaties are sometimes understood, particularly by Indigenous people, as sacred covenants between nations that establish a relationship between those for whom Canada is an ancient homeland and those whose family roots lie in other countries. Treaties therefore form the constitutional and moral basis of alliance between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

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Kainai (Blood)

The Kainai, also known as the Blood or Kainaiwa, are one of three nations comprising the Blackfoot Confederacy. (The other two include the Siksika and Piikani.) The Kainai have a land base of about 1,362 km2, bordered on all sides by the Oldman, St. Mary and Belly rivers in Alberta. According to the 2016 census, 1,000 people identified as having Kainai ancestry.

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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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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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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

Oneida, the smallest of the five original nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, occupied a single village near Oneida Lake in New York state for most of the historic era. They had only three matrilineal clans (Wolf, Bear and Turtle). Nine Oneida chiefs sat on the confederacy council.

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Ojibwe

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa, Ojibway and Chippewa) are an Indigenous people in Canada and the United States who are part of a larger cultural group known as the Anishinaabeg.

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Indian Agents in Canada

Indian agents were the Canadian government’s representatives on First Nations reserves from the 1830s to the 1960s. Often working in isolated locations far from settler communities, Indian agents implemented government policy, enforced and administered the provisions of the Indian Act, and managed the day-to-day affairs of Status Indians. Today, the position of Indian agent no longer exists, as First Nations manage their own affairs through modern band councils or self-government.

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Shingwaukonse

Shingwaukonse (Little Pine, also spelled Shinguacöuse or Chingwackonce), Indigenous leader (born c. 1773; died 1854 at Garden River, Canada West [now ON]). Son of an Ojibwa (see Ojibwe) woman and possibly Lavoine Barthe, a trader, Shingwaukonse became a warrior, orator, medicine man, and leader of his people.