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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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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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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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Grassy Narrows

Grassy Narrows, ON, is the common name for both a reserve and an Ojibwe First Nation. The reserve, legally known as English River Indian Reserve 21, is just over 41 km2 of land located about 55 km northeast of Kenora. There are 1,594 registered members of Grassy Narrows First Nation (also known as Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek), 971 of whom live on-reserve (2019). Grassy Narrows is a signatory to Treaty 3.

Approximately 90 per cent of Grassy Narrows residents suffer from mercury poisoning. The poisoning is the result of Dryden Chemicals Ltd. dumping mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system between 1962 and 1970. The effects of the pollution are ongoing, and have also affected Whitedog First Nation (also known as Wabaseemoong Independent Nations).

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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 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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First Nation Issues State of Emergency After Evacuation Request Denied

The Neskantaga First Nation, located about 450 km north of Thunder Bay, issued a state of emergency after its request for emergency evacuations was refused by Indigenous Services Canada. The request was made after the town’s water pump and backup water pump broke down, resulting in contaminated and unfiltered water. A spokesperson for Indigenous Services said that technicians would arrive within days to repair the pumps. The Neskantaga reserve has been under a boil water advisory since 1995.

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Ottawa Ordered to Compensate First Nations Children in On-Reserve Child Welfare System

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a ruling that called for the federal government to pay $40,000 to each child who was taken from their home on reserve since 1 January 2006, regardless of the reason. The tribunal’s ruling stated, “Canada was aware of the discrimination and of some of its serious consequences… Canada focused on financial considerations rather than on the best interests of First Nations children and respecting their human rights.” About 50,000 children were affected, making the total cost around $2 billion. (See also: Canadian Human Rights Act.)

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Reserve Declares State of Emergency After Three Suicides and Four Attempts in One Month

Chief Ronald Mitsuing of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, located northwest of Saskatoon, declared that the community of 1,000 people was in a state of emergency and a state of crisis after three people, including a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old, committed suicide in the space of a month. At least four others attempted suicide in that time. “The community and our frontline workers are looking for immediate relief; and we are calling on our local, provincial and federal governments for support,” Mitsuing said in a statement. (See also Suicide Among Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Nearly Half of Indigenous Children Live in Poverty, Study Finds

A study conducted by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that 47 per cent of Indigenous children across Canada, both on and off reserve, live in poverty — more than two and a half times the national average. When considering only on-reserve children, the number rises to 53 per cent — four times the rate for White children. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said, “Canada is not tracking First Nations poverty on-reserve, so we did. Our children face the worst social and economic conditions in the country. They deserve an opportunity to succeed.”