Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous nations tell their own stories about the origins of the world and their place in it; all claim their ancestry dates to Time Immemorial. At the same time, there is considerable archeological debate about when humans first came to North America, though broad assumptions suggest waves of migration from northeastern Asia, by both land bridge and boat, between 30,000 and 13,500 years ago. Note: This timeline presents key events and developments in Indigenous history in what is now Canada, from Time Immemorial to present. While no timeline can be exhaustive in its coverage, it provides a broad chronological overview to support educators and students.

Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), Plains Cree Chief, 1885

November 30, -1

Archeological discoveries 

Evidence of Human Occupation in North America

Irrefutable archeological evidence of human occupation in the northern half of North America, including in the Tanana River Valley (Alaska), Haida Gwaii (British Columbia), Vermilion Lakes (Alberta), and Debert (Nova Scotia).

January 01, 1400

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism  Self-Government 

Mi’kmaq Grand Council

Made up of male representatives from across Mi’kmaq territory, the council is governed by a grand chief and rules by consensus. The role of chieftain is often handed down from father to son. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)

January 01, 1400

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism  Self-Government 

Blackfoot Confederacy

A confederacy of Siksika (Blackfoot) nations is organized around bands. Each band has a male leader responsible for decision-making. He governs by consensus. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)

January 01, 1450

Indigenous Peoples 

Haudenosaunee Confederacy Try Resolving Disputes in Lower Great Lakes Region

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois League), organized by Dekanahwideh (the Peacemaker) and Hiawatha, tries to provide a peaceful and equitable means to resolve disputes among member nations in the lower Great Lakes region.

January 01, 1493


“Doctrine of Discovery” is Decreed

The papal bull Inter Caetera — the “Doctrine of Discovery” — is decreed a year after Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America. Made without consulting Indigenous populations nor with any recognition of their rights, it is the means by which Europeans claim legal title to the “new world.”

January 01, 1500

Ayenwahtha Wampum Belt

First Nations  Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism  Self-Government 

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy is Active

Formed by five nations, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is considered one of the earliest examples of a participatory democracy. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)

January 01, 1500

Indigenous Peoples 

Indigenous Population Ranges From 200,000 to 500,000

Estimates for the Indigenous population range from 200,000 to 500,000 people, though some suggest it was as high as 2.5 million, with between 300 and 450 languages spoken.

January 01, 1500

Indigenous Peoples 

Contact between European fisherman and Indigenous Peoples on Atlantic Coast Begins

Continual contact between European fishermen and Indigenous peoples on the Atlantic coast begins.

January 01, 1500

Huron-Wendat People

First Nations  Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism  Self-Government 

Huron-Wendat Village Councils

Civil and war-related affairs among the Huron-Wendat are determined by respective village councils. Decisions are reached by consensus. All men over 30 are council members but women have little-to-no say in council affairs. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)

June 02, 1537

Indigenous Peoples 

Pope's Proclamation on Indigenous People

Pope Paul III proclaimed that Indigenous people "are truly human" and so should not be enslaved, and that they should receive the Roman Catholic faith. (See also Enslavement of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

January 01, 1600

Indigenous Peoples 

Trade Alliances Between Indigenous Peoples and Europeans Form

Indigenous technology and knowledge of hunting, trapping, guiding, food, and disease prove crucial to the survival of Europeans and early colonial economy and society, particularly in the supply of beaver pelts and other furs. The establishment of alliances gives Indigenous peoples access to European weaponry and other goods.

January 01, 1600

Indigenous Peoples 

Disease Devastates Indigenous Populations

Tuberculosis, smallpox, and measles spread, intentionally or inadvertently, across North America, devastating Indigenous populations.

June 28, 1609

Defeat of the Iroquois at Lac Champlain

Indigenous Peoples 

Champlain Explores Haudenosaunee Country

Samuel de Champlain explored Haudenosaunee country, entering the Rivière des Iroquois (Richelieu), paddling upriver and reaching a great lake that would later bear his name.

July 30, 1609

Defeat of the Iroquois at Lac Champlain

Indigenous Peoples 

Champlain Battles the Haudenosaunee

Champlain and his First Nations allies battled the Haudenosaunee on Lake Champlain, beginning 150 years of war between Iroquois and French. Champlain's musket kills three and astonishes the enemy.

January 01, 1613

Indigenous Peoples 

Covenant Chain Agreements Established

The Two-Row Wampum (Kaswentha) establishes the Covenant Chain, a series of agreements between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and European representatives. They agree to work toward peace as well as economic, political, and cultural sovereignty; gift exchanges honour promises and renew alliances.

January 01, 1615

Indigenous Peoples 

European Missionaries Arrive in North America

The first European missionaries (Récollets and later Jesuits) arrive to convert Indigenous populations to Catholicism.

October 11, 1615

Iroquois Fortress

Indigenous Peoples 

Champlain's Third Battle with the Haudenosaunee

Champlain and his allies arrived at a Haudenosaunee fort on Lake Onanadaga, just north of present-day Syracuse. The Haudenosaunee routed the invaders, wounding Champlain with two arrows.

October 11, 1615

Champlain's Drawing of Tadoussac

Indigenous Peoples 

Champlain Wounded

Samuel de Champlain was wounded twice in the leg by arrows when he and his Huron-Wendat allies stumbled upon an Haudenosaunee fort.

March 16, 1649

Martyrdom of the Jesuits

Indigenous Peoples 

Jesuits Killed

Jesuit missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Charles Lalemant were executed by the Haudenosaunee.

April 17, 1649


Indigenous Peoples 

Wendake Defeated by Haudenosaunee

Weakened by disease and cultural interference by the French, the Huron-Wendat homeland known as Wendake was destroyed by the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Between 1649 and 1650, about 500 Huron-Wendat left Georgian Bay to seek refuge close to the French, in the Quebec City region. Many were either killed or adopted into Haudenosaunee nations. However, the Huron-Wendat First Nation still remains — in Wendake, Quebec.

May 02, 1660

Iroquois War Club

Indigenous Peoples 

Dollard and the Haudenosaunee

Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, with 16 Frenchmen and 44 Huron-Wendats and Algonquins, held a Haudenosaunee war party at bay for days before capitulating; all the French defenders were killed.

May 02, 1670

Indigenous Peoples 

Hudson’s Bay Company is Established

The Hudson’s Bay Company is established, forming a monopoly and increasing the volume of goods in the fur trade. For centuries to come, blankets are widely traded, including the iconic HBC Point Blanket, first made in 1779 and still available today. Seen by some as an item of cultural importance, it reminds others of the forces of colonialism.

January 01, 1677

Indigenous Peoples 

Silver Covenant Chain Treaty

This wampum treaty between Britain and the Haudenosaunee represented an open and honest communication between two peoples. Subsequent wampum treaties reinforce this idea, as well as the idea of mutual interest and peace. Such wampum treaties oblige the parties to help each other, in war if necessary, should they be asked.

August 05, 1689

Indigenous Peoples 

Lachine Raid

Lachine was attacked by 1,500 Haudenosaunee in the fiercest assault in the history of the colony; 24 French colonists were killed, and 42 of 90 prisoners never returned.

January 22, 1690

Haudenosaunee Council Discussions

Indigenous Peoples 

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Peace Treaty

The Haudenosaunee concluded a peace treaty with the English and the tribes of the Great Lakes.

August 01, 1701

Indigenous Peoples 

Great Peace of Montreal

Three dozen Indigenous groups and the French colonial government sign the Great Peace of Montréal, forging peaceful relations that end nearly a century of war between the Haudenosaunee and the French (and their Indigenous allies).

May 01, 1756

Indigenous Peoples 

Seven Years' War Begins

The Seven Years’ War is the first global war, fought in Europe, India, America, and at sea. In North America, Britain and France (aided by Indigenous allies) struggled for supremacy. With the Treaty of Paris, France formally cedes Canada to the British.

September 05, 1760

Indigenous Peoples 

Huron Treaty

A treaty was concluded between the Huron-Wendat and the British. The Huron-Wendat agreed to put down their arms. In return they would receive safe passage, free exercise of religion, local government and justice. The treaty was recognized in 1990 by the Supreme Court.

September 15, 1760

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty of Oswegatchie

The terms of the Treaty of Oswegatchie, confirmed at Kahnawake, were for the Haudenosaunee to remain neutral. In return they would not be deprived of their lands or treated as enemies by the British.

May 09, 1763

Indigenous Peoples 

Pontiac's War

Pontiac’s Resistance provides a strong show of Indigenous unity. Under the leadership of Ottawa chief Obwandiyag (Pontiac), an Indigenous alliance tries to resist European occupation by ridding the lower Great Lakes region of English settlers and soldiers.

October 07, 1763


King George III's Royal Proclamation

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 lays down the basis for how colonial administration would interact with First Nations peoples in the centuries that followed. The Proclamation guarantees certain rights and protections for First Nations peoples, and establishes the process by which the government could acquire their lands. It also provides guidelines for negotiating treaties on a nation-to-nation basis.

July 24, 1766


Indigenous Peoples 

Pontiac's Treaty

Ottawa chief Pontiac signed a treaty with the British ending the uprising he initiated three years earlier. The treaty helped to establish Indigenous rights for the future.

April 20, 1769


Indigenous Peoples 

Pontiac's Murder

Pontiac was murdered at the site of present-day St Louis, Missouri.

September 07, 1783

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)

Indigenous Peoples 

Brant Tries to Forge Alliance

Joseph Brant spoke to an Indigenous council at Lower Sandusky, Ohio, attended by Shawnees, Cherokees and others to unite them with the Six Nations and to encourage them to speak with "the United Voice of us all."

May 22, 1784

First Nations 

Mohawk Families Arrive at Bay of Quinte

During the American Revolution (1775–83), the British promised their allies, the Mohawks, that their homeland would be returned to them after the war. But when the revolution ended, the Treaty of Paris gave traditional Mohawk territory to the United States. The British instead offered the Mohawks their choice of any unsettled land in Upper Canada (now Ontario). They chose land along the north shore of Lake Ontario on the Bay of Quinte. About 20 Mohawk families (100–125 people) travelled by canoe from Lachine and arrived at the Bay of Quinte on 22 May 1784. (See also Crown Grant to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.)

October 25, 1784


Haldimand Proclamation

The Haldimand Proclamation grants land, negotiated nine years earlier by Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in return for helping Britain during the American Revolution.

January 01, 1791

Indigenous Peoples 

Haida Chief Koyah Organizes First Attacks on the British

Haida chief Koyah organizes the first of many attacks on the British, who had begun coastal explorations in an emergent west coast fur trade.

November 07, 1811

Indigenous Peoples 

The Battle of Tippecanoe

William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, attacked Tecumseh's Western Confederacy at the Shawnee village of Prophetstown, Indiana. Angered, Tecumseh entered an alliance with Britain as a means to counter American expansion into their lands.

June 18, 1812

Indigenous Peoples 

War of 1812 Begins

The War of 1812 sees tens of thousands of Indigenous people fight for their land, independence, and culture, as allies of either Great Britain or the United States. In British North America, the Western Confederacy, led by Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, plays a crucial role in protecting Upper and Lower Canada from American invasion. By the end of hostilities, almost 10,000 Indigenous people had died from wounds or disease. The Treaty of Ghent, which is supposed to return lands and “all possessions, rights and privileges” to Indigenous peoples affected by the war, is ignored.

December 24, 1814

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty of Ghent

Peace talks between Great Britain and the United States took place in Belgium in August and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve. The British insisted the treaty be ratified by both governments before it took effect because the Americans refused to ratify three previous treaties.

February 15, 1815

Indigenous Peoples 

War of 1812 Ends

The War of 1812 ends with the peace Treaty of Ghent. However, the First Nations allies of the British and Canadian cause suffered; they lost warriors (including the great Tecumseh), lost hope of halting American expansion in the west, and their contributions were quickly forgotten by their allies.

June 06, 1829


Indigenous Peoples 

Last Beothuk Dies

Shawnadithit was captured by English furriers in 1823, and her drawings and descriptions of the Beothuk are valuable records of her people. Like so many Beothuk, she died of tuberculosis.

January 01, 1831

Mohawk Institute

Indigenous Peoples 

Mohawk Institute Begins to Accept Boarders

Run by the Anglican Church, the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Upper Canada [Ontario], becomes the first school in Canada’s residential school system. At first, the school only admits boys. In 1834, girls are admitted.

June 24, 1837

Blackfoot Camp

Indigenous Peoples 

Smallpox Hits Prairies

An American Fur Company boat arrived at Fort Union, setting off a smallpox epidemic across the praries, killing an estimated three-quarters of the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee and Assiniboine peoples of the prairies.

March 20, 1845

Indigenous Peoples 

Bagot Report

The Bagot Commission (1842-1844) report is presented to the Legislative Assembly. It proposes that separating Indigenous children from their parents is the best way to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture. The commission also recommends that the Mohawk Institute be considered a model for other industrial schools.

February 07, 1850

Indigenous Peoples 

Mica Bay Inquiry

The inquiry into the attack at Mica Bay, Quebec began with the testimony of agent John Bonner of the Quebec Mining Company. The Mica Bay Incident occurred in November 1849 when First Nations and Métis people, led by white businessman Allan Macdonell, attacked the company's mining installations in a dispute over mining rights in the area.

September 07, 1850


Robinson Treaties

The Robinson-Superior and Robinson-Huron treaties are signed in what is now Ontario, as are the Douglas treaties in what is now British Columbia. The controversial agreements allow for the exploitation of natural resources on vast swaths of land in return for annual cash payments, and make evident the differing understandings of land ownership and relationship-building through treaties.

January 01, 1857

Indigenous Peoples 

Gradual Civilization Act Passed in the Province of Canada

The government attempts to assimilate First Nations men by offering them the right to vote if they voluntarily enfranchise. This means giving up rights, including treaty rights. Only one person elects to do so under this Act. (See also Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Law.)

June 10, 1857

Indigenous Peoples 

The Gradual Civilization Act

The Gradual Civilization Act requires male Status Indians and Métis over the age of 21 to read, write and speak either English or French, and to choose a government-approved surname. It awards 50 acres of land to any “sufficiently advanced” Indigenous male, and in return removes any tribal affiliation or treaty rights.

April 30, 1864

Indigenous Peoples 

Tsilhqot'in Incident

In 1861, a pack-train trail was established from the Bella Coola Valley through Tsilhqot'in territory to the developing gold mine centres to the east, and work was begun on a wagon road from Bute Inlet to the interior. Resisting these intrusions, a small group of Tsilhqot'in killed several workers on this road in what is known as the Chilcotin War of 1864. Six Tsilhqot'in were eventually tried and executed for these killings. On 26 March 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exonerated the Tsilhqot'in chiefs of any wrongdoing, and on 2 November 2018, Trudeau formally apologized.

March 29, 1867

Indigenous Peoples 

Federal Responsibility

Under the Constitution Act (British North America Act), the federal government takes authority over First Nations and land reserved for First Nations (see Reserves). This authority would later extend to education of Status Indians.

November 02, 1869

Louis Riel and the Provisional Government

Political Organization and Activism 

Red River Resistance

With 120 men,Louis Riel occupied Upper Fort Garry in the Red River Colony to block the transfer of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) to Canada. Known as the Red River Resistance, the Métis — led by Riel — and First Nations allies defended the Red River Colony from White settlers and government encroachment on their lands. Louis Riel was hanged for treason, and Cree chiefs Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear) and Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker) were imprisoned. Promises to protect the Métis were still unfulfilled more than a decade later, sparking the Northwest Resistance in 1885. In 2019, Poundmaker was exonerated by the federal government.

August 03, 1871

First Nations  Law 

Numbered Treaties Signed

The 11 Numbered Treaties are signed by the Canadian government and Indigenous nations. These treaties, still controversial and contested today, make vast areas of traditional Indigenous territory available for white settlement and development in exchange for a system of reserves (treaty lands), cash payments, access to agricultural tools, and hunting and fishing rights. Elders note that the initial spirit and intent of the treaties have been disregarded.

August 03, 1871

Signing of Treaty 1

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 1

The first post-Confederation treaty was signed at Lower Fort Garry, Man. The first of many “Numbered Treaties,” Treaty 1 was signed between the Crown and the Ojibwe and Swampy Cree Nations. The treaty included the provision of livestock, agricultural equipment and the establishment of schools in exchange for ceding large tracts of Indigenous hunting grounds.

August 21, 1871

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 2

Treaty 2 was concluded with Chippewa of Manitoba, who ceded land from the mouth of Winnipeg River to the northern shores of Lake Manitoba across the Assiniboine River to the United States frontier.

June 01, 1873

Cypress Hills

Indigenous Peoples 

Cypress Hills Massacre

A gang of wolf hunters looking for a stolen horse killed 20 Assiniboine camped in the Cypress Hills. Some of the attackers were tried but none convicted. The event sped up the arrival of police.

October 03, 1873

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 3

Treaty 3 was signed by the Saulteaux (Chippewa) of northwestern Ontario and of Manitoba. For the surrender of a tract comprising about 55,000 sq. miles, the Dominion Government reserved not more than one square mile for each family of five and agreed to pay $12 per head and an annuity of $5 per head.

September 15, 1874

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 4

Treaty 4 was signed at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, with Cree, Saulteaux (Chippewa) and other First Nations.

September 20, 1875

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 5

Treaty 5 was concluded at Lake Winnipeg ceding an area of approximately 100,000 sq. miles inhabited by Chippewa and Swampy Cree (Maskegon) of Manitoba and Ontario.

April 12, 1876

Indian Act

First Nations  Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Indian Act

The Indian Act is introduced. The Act aims to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act also reinforces that Status Indians must voluntarily give up status and treaty rights to vote federally. Status Indian women are barred from voting in band council elections.

August 23, 1876

Cree Encampment

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 6

Treaty 6 was signed at Carlton and at Fort Pitt with the Plains Cree, Woodland Cree and Assiniboine. It ceded an area of 120,000 sq. miles of the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

September 16, 1877

Indigenous Peoples 

Plains Indigenous Negotiations

Canadian government officials met with Crowfoot and his fellow chiefs to discuss the future of Indigenous peoples on the Plains. After some disagreements among the Indigenous groups, Red Crow said he would sign a treaty if Crowfoot would. Crowfoot agreed.

September 22, 1877

Mékaisto (Red Crow)

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 7

Treaty 7 was signed at Blackfoot Crossing in southern Alberta by the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Tsuut'ina and Stoney. Canadian officials understood that by the treaty First Nations surrendered some 35,000 sq miles of land to the Crown in return for reserves, payments and annuities.

January 01, 1880

Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Amendment to the Indian Act (1880)

An amendment to the Indian Act formally disenfranchises and disempowers Indigenous women by declaring they “cease to be an Indian in any respect” if they marry “any other than an Indian, or a non-treaty Indian.”

July 01, 1883

Indigenous Peoples 

Residential Schools Authorized

Based on the recommendations of the Davin Report, Sir John A. Macdonald authorizes the creation of the residential school system, designed to isolate Indigenous children from their families and cut all ties to their culture.

April 19, 1884

Potlatch Regalia

Indigenous Peoples 

Potlatch and Tamanawas Banned

The federal government outlaws the potlatch ceremony and Tamanawas winter dances of Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, bowing to pressure from missionaries.

April 19, 1884

Library and Archives Canada / PA-042133

Indigenous Peoples 

Creation of Residential Schools

Amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 provide for the creation of residential schools, funded and operated by the Government of Canada and Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and United churches.

September 15, 1884

Indigenous Peoples 

Canada's Nile Voyageurs

The Nile Voyageurs, Canada's first official participants in an overseas war, set sail for Egypt, comprising a force of 386 lumbermen, Caughnawaga men and Ottawa boatmen under the command of F.C. Denison.

January 01, 1885

Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Electoral Franchise Act

The original draft of the Act gave federal voting rights to some women, but under the final legislation, only men can vote. The Act gives some Reserve First Nations with property qualifications the right to vote, but bars Chinese Canadians.

April 02, 1885

Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear)

Indigenous Peoples 

Frog Lake Incident

Wandering Spirit and other Cree in Chief Big Bear's band killed nine white men at Frog Lake, Sask, during the North-West Resistance.

July 02, 1885

Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear)

Indigenous Peoples 

Big Bear Surrenders

Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa) surrendered at Fort Carlton. Though always counselling peace, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

January 01, 1889

Indigenous Peoples 

Peasant Farm Policy Introduced

From 1889 to 1897, the Canadian government’s Peasant Farm Policy set limits on Indigenous agriculture on the Prairies. The policy included rules about the types of tools First Nations farmers could use on reserve lands. It also restricted how much they grew and what they could sell. The policy impeded the growth and development of First Nations farms and reduced their ability to compete with settler farms on the open market.

April 25, 1890

Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot)

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Crowfoot

The great Cree chief Crowfoot died at Blackfoot Crossing. He was a perceptive, farseeing and diplomatic leader who became disillusioned with the Canadian government.

December 15, 1890

Sitting Bull

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Sitting Bull

Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux warrior and chief Tatanka Iyotake, also known as Sitting Bull, died at Standing Rock, South Dakota. Sitting Bull was a leader in indigenous resistance against American westward expansion. He and his people sought refuge in Canada, but left when the Canadian government refused to establish a reserve for them. Sitting Bull was killed during a gunfight with American authorities trying to execute a warrant for his arrest.

January 01, 1896

Indigenous Peoples 

Growing Number of Residential Schools

The number of schools across Canada quickly climbs to over forty. Each school was provided with an allowance per student, which led to overcrowding and an increase in illnesses within the institutions.

June 21, 1899

Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), Plains Cree Chief, 1885

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty 8

Cree, Beaver, Chipewyan and Slavey First Nations ceded territory south and west of Great Slave Lake in northern Alberta to the federal government in Treaty 8.

July 03, 1906

Indigenous Peoples 

Chief Capilano Meets King Edward VII

Chief Joe Capilano of the Squamish Nation went to London to meet King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The chief, accompanied by other Indigenous representatives, presented a petition to the king concerning Indigenous land rights.

November 15, 1907

Indigenous Peoples 

Health at Residential Schools

After visiting 35 residential schools, Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, chief medical officer for Canada’s Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs (1904–21), reveals that Indigenous children are dying at alarming rates – with the mortality rate of enrolled students as high as 25 per cent. This number climbs to 69 per cent after students leave school.

March 10, 1910

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of S7ápelek (Chief Joe Capilano)

S7ápelek, also known as Chief Joe Capilano, was a Squamish Nation member and one of the most influential Indigenous leaders in British Columbia.  Beginning in the late 19th century, S7ápelek became better known as Chief Joe Capilano and spent the rest of his life advocating for Canada’s recognition of Indigenous rights.

March 08, 1914

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Lacrosse Superstar Bill Isaacs

Wilton “Bill” Isaacs was born in the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. He became one of Canada’s most outstanding lacrosse players. Isaacs was a superstar of box lacrosse, the indoor version of the game, which was extremely popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

August 04, 1914

Indigenous Peoples 

First World War Begins

Between 4,000 and 6,000 Indigenous people serve in the Canadian military during the First World War. They are denied veterans’ benefits on their return, despite many winning military awards, like Francis Pegahmagabow, whose medals are pictured above.

May 24, 1918


Women Granted Right to Vote in Federal Elections

Many Canadian women are granted the right to vote in federal elections, but First Nations women can only vote if they give up their status and treaty rights.

December 01, 1918

Political Organization and Activism 

Fred Loft Forms the League of Indians

The League of Indians forms to advocate for improved living conditions and the protection of Indigenous rights and practices. Though its effectiveness is weakened by government harassment, police surveillance, and disunity among Indigenous groups, it forms the basis for Indigenous political organizing in the future.

February 26, 1920

Indigenous Peoples 

Indian Act Amendment Allows for Forced Enfranchisement of Status Indians

The Indian Act is amended to allow for the forced enfranchisement of First Nations whom the government thought should be removed from band lists. Enfranchisement was the most common of the legal processes by which First Nations peoples lost their Indian Status under the Indian Act.

April 01, 1920

Indigenous Peoples 

Residential Schools Become Mandatory

Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, makes attendance at residential school mandatory for every First Nations child between 7 and 16 years of age. This policy was also inconsistently applied to Métis and Inuit children.

June 27, 1921

Mackenzie River

Indigenous Peoples 

Indigenous People Cede Mackenzie

Slave, Dogrib, Hare, Loucheux and other bands ceded the Mackenzie River region of the Northwest Territories to the federal government.

January 01, 1922

Indigenous Peoples 

The Story of a National Crime Published

Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce publishes The Story of a National Crime, exposing the Canadian government’s suppression of information on the health of Indigenous peoples. Bryce argues that Duncan Campbell Scott and the ministry of Indian Affairs neglected Indigenous health needs and notes a “criminal disregard for the treaty pledges.”

July 14, 1923

Political Organization and Activism 

Cayuga Chief Deskaheh Sails to Geneva

Cayuga Chief Deskaheh (Levi General) campaigns to have the League of Nations recognize the Six Nations of Grand River as a sovereign nation.

January 01, 1924

First Nations  Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Status Indian WWI Veterans Granted Right to Vote

Male Status Indian veterans of the First World War gain the right to vote in federal elections without losing their status and treaty rights. 

October 03, 1927

Festival Owl


Birth of Kenojuak Ashevak

Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who is perhaps the best-known Inuk artist because of her famous print The Enchanted Owl, was born at Ikirasaq camp, South Baffin Island, NWT.

January 01, 1929


Complaints About Inuit Names Begin

Complaints about Inuit not bearing traditional Christian names arise, beginning decades of government labelling strategies to ease the recording of census information and entrench federal authority in the North. Among the failed initiatives are metal discs with ID numbers, and Project Surname.

January 01, 1930

Indigenous Peoples 

Residential School Network Expands

More than 80 institutions are in operation across Canada — the most at any one time — with an enrolment of over 17,000.

January 01, 1934

First Nations  Inuit  Law 

Dominion Franchise Act

Inuit and First Nations persons living on reserves are disqualified from voting in federal elections, except for First Nations veterans who had previously received the vote.

January 01, 1934


Inuit Education Research Conducted by Federal Government

For the first time, the Canadian government conducts research into Inuit education. J. Lorne Turner, Director of Lands, Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch, Department of the Interior urges the government to provide formal education to Inuit children.

February 15, 1936

First School

Indigenous Peoples 

Ewing Report Recommends “Métis colonies” Be Established

The Ewing Commission was the result of Métis leadership lobbying the Alberta government to set aside land for Métis settlers. The commission examined the socio-economic conditions faced by Métis in Alberta and recommended creating “Métis colonies.” The provincial government eventually established 12 Métis settlements in the central and northern parts of the province. By 1960, the provincial government had rescinded four of those settlements. The remaining eight (Paddle Prairie, Peavine, Gift Lake, East Prairie, Buffalo Lake, Kikino, Elizabeth and Fishing Lake) continue to be vibrant Métis communities.

July 23, 1937


Death of Lacrosse Legend Lance Isaacs

Lance Isaacs and his brothers, Bill and Wade, became some of Canada’s most outstanding lacrosse players. Their father, Man Afraid of the Soap (also Freeman Joseph Isaacs), represented Canada at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games on the Mohawk Indians team, which won a bronze medal. The Isaacs became star lacrosse players in both Canada and the United States. Lance died from a stress-related heart attack during a game in 1937.

September 10, 1939

Indigenous Peoples 

Second World War Begins

Between 5,000 and 8,000 Indigenous soldiers fight for Canada in the Second World War, serving in all major battles and campaigns. Most do not receive the same support or compensation as other veterans upon returning home.

January 01, 1944


First Nations  Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Status Indian WWII Veterans Granted Right to Vote

Status Indian veterans who served in the Second World War and their spouses are permitted to vote in federal elections without losing status, with some conditions.

January 01, 1948

Indigenous Peoples  Law 

Amendments to Dominion Elections Act

Race is no longer grounds for exclusion from voting in federal elections. However, Status Indians still have to give up their Status in order to vote.

January 01, 1949

First Nations  Law 

First Nations Win Right to Vote Provincially

Except in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Status Indians had been barred from voting provincially. Beginning with British Columbia in 1949 and ending with Quebec in 1969, First Nations peoples gradually win the right to vote in provincial elections without losing status or treaty rights.  

January 01, 1950

Inuit  Law 

Inuit Granted Right to Vote

Inuit are granted the right to vote in federal elections, but the isolation of several communities means many cannot access polling stations. Later reforms increase access to ballot boxes.

January 01, 1950


Inuit Sled Dogs Killed

Sled dogs are killed as part of the Sled Dog Slaughter, a government assimilationist initiative to force the Inuit of Northern Québec to deny their nomadic lifestyle and move them away from their traditional lands.

January 01, 1951

First Nations  Law 

First Nations Women Granted Right to Vote in Band Council Elections

Changes to the Indian Act grant First Nations women the right to vote in band council elections.

September 04, 1951

Indigenous Peoples 

Indian Act Amendment Gives Elected Band Councils More Powers

Indigenous lobbying leads to Indian Act amendments that give elected band councils more powers, award women the right to vote in band elections, and lift the ban on the potlatch and sun dances. Some soldiers who fought alongside Indigenous men and women support the change.

July 01, 1953


High Arctic Relocation

In the High Arctic Relocation, the federal government forcefully moves 87 Inuit from Inukjuak in northern Québec to Ellesmere and Cornwallis Islands. The relocation is part of the government’s effort to secure northern territorial sovereignty during the Cold War. Adequate support for the communities does not follow.

January 01, 1954

First Nations 

Elsie Marie Knott Becomes First Female Chief of a First Nation

Elsie Marie Knott becomes the first female chief of a First Nation in Canada when she is elected to lead the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, Ontario. She holds the position for 16 years.

July 19, 1958

Indigenous Peoples 

Royal Totem Presented to Queen Mother

Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Mungo Martin (Naka'pankam) presented the Royal Totem to Her Majesty the Queen Mother in London, who accepted on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the centennial of the creation of the colony of British Columbia.

January 01, 1960

Sixties Scoop

Indigenous Peoples 

The Sixties Scoop

As residential schools closed, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families by provincial and federal social workers and placed in foster or adoption homes. Often, these homes were non-Indigenous. Some children were even placed outside of Canada. (See also Sixties Scoop.)

July 01, 1960

In Hiawatha Council Hall on Occasion of a Federal By-election

First Nations  Law 

First Nations Can Now Vote in Federal Elections

First Nations peoples receive the right to vote in federal elections while retaining their status and treaty rights. However, they are still excluded from voting in some provinces.

July 01, 1960

In Hiawatha Council Hall on Occasion of a Federal By-election

Indigenous Peoples 

Right to Vote for Status Indians

Status Indians receive the right to vote in federal elections, no longer losing their status or treaty rights in the process. (See also Indigenous Suffrage in Canada.)

November 17, 1966

Chanie Wenjack

Indigenous Peoples 

Coroner’s Inquest Into Chanie Wenjack’s Death

A coroner’s inquest into Chanie Wenjack’s death is held. The all-White jury finds that residential schools cause tremendous emotional and psychological problems. They recommend that “A study be made of the present Indian education & philosophy. Is it right?”

January 01, 1968

Political Organization and Activism 

Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society Founded

The Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society (VANWS) was founded by Indigenous activists, including Métis war veteran Bertha Clark Jones, to advocate on behalf of Status and Non-Status women in the years before Bill C-31 made it possible for those who had lost their status in marriage to regain it. VANWS would evolve into the Native Women's Association of Canada, which has been active since 1974.

January 01, 1969

Premier of Alberta Harry Strom, Harold Cardinal and Jean Chrétien, Minister of Indian Affairs, 18 December 1970.

Indigenous Peoples 

White Paper Published

A federal White Paper on Indian Affairs proposes abolishing the Indian Act, Indian status, and reserves, and transferring responsibility for Indigenous affairs to the provinces. In response, Cree chief Harold Cardinal writes the Red Paper, calling for recognition of Indigenous peoples as “Citizens Plus.” The government later withdraws the proposal after considerable opposition from Indigenous organizations.

January 01, 1969

White Eagle Residential School

Indigenous Peoples 

Authority for Residential Schools Transferred to Government

The Canadian government takes over responsibility for the remaining residential schools from the churches.

January 01, 1970


Inuit Territory Discussions Begin

Eastern Arctic Inuit of the Northwest Territories begin discussions about forming an Inuit territory.

January 01, 1971


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is Formed

The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, renamed Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in 2001, is formed as a national organization advocating for self- government, social, economic, environmental, health, and political welfare of Inuit in Canada, and preservation of language and history.

January 01, 1973


Supreme Court Acknowledges Indigenous Land Titles

The Supreme Court of Canada agrees that Indigenous peoples held title to land before European colonization, that this title existed in law, and that it continues unless specifically extinguished. Named for Nisga’a chief Frank Calder, the Calder Case forces the government to adopt new policies to negotiate land claims with Indigenous peoples not covered by treaties.

February 14, 1973

Whitehorse Rapids

Indigenous Peoples 

Yukon Land Claims

The federal government established a committee to negotiate land claims in the Yukon.

March 18, 1973

 K'atlodeeche/Katl'odeeche First Nation's Church.

Indigenous Peoples 

First Reserve in NWT

The first First Nations reserve in the Northwest Territories was created at Hay River.

September 07, 1973

Indigenous Peoples 

NWT Court Allows Land Claim

The Northwest Territories Supreme Court allowed the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT to file a land claim for one-third of the NWT.

January 01, 1974

Native Women's Association of Canada

Political Organization and Activism 

Native Women's Association of Canada Founded

The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) was founded by Indigenous women and their allies, including non-Indigenous feminists active in the women’s movement. Members concerned themselves with the preservation and continuation of Indigenous culture on a local level, while focusing nationally on addressing the inequity in status conditions for women under the Indian Act. NWAC's first president was Métis war veteran and activist Bertha Clark Jones.

July 02, 1974

Indigenous Peoples 

Ralph Steinhauer Appointed Lieutenant-Governor

Ralph Steinhauer was appointed lieutenant-governor of Alberta, the first Indigenous person to hold vice-regal office in Canada.

January 01, 1976


Greenpeace Anti-Sealing Campaign

An anti-sealing campaign led by Greenpeace attacks Inuit hunting practices, economically devastating Inuit communities for years. Greenpeace publicly expresses regret in 2014.

April 05, 1977


First Inuit to Enter Parliament

Willie Adams was appointed to the Senate for the Northwest Territories, the first Inuit person to hold a seat in Parliament.

August 14, 1978

Indigenous Peoples 

Dene Nation

The Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories became the Dene Nation during the 8th Dene National Assembly held in Fort Norman, NT.

December 23, 1978

Indigenous Peoples 

Bryan Trottier Sets Record for Most Points in a Period

Métis hockey player Bryan Trottier set an NHL record when he scored four goals and two assists in the second period of a game — the most points in one period in NHL history. He later won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins and one as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche. In 2001, the Islanders retired his No. 19.

January 01, 1979

Indigenous Peoples 

28 Residential Schools Remain

Thousands of Indigenous students are enrolled at the 28 residential schools that were running in Canada at the time.

January 01, 1980

Political Organization and Activism 

Standoffs Occur On Disputed Lands

Several politically charged standoffs occur on disputed lands. More than 800 people are arrested during the “War in the Woods” when Tla-o-qui-aht and environmentalists fight to protect ancient forests from loggers in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. The Oka Crisis sees Mohawk activists clash with Québec provincial police for 78 days. Tensions over the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation occupation at Ipperwash Provincial Park contribute to protestor Dudley George’s death at the hands of an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

November 24, 1980

Political Organization and Activism 

"Constitution Express" Begins

Activists travel by train from Vancouver to Ottawa aboard the “Constitution Express” to raise awareness about the lack of recognition of Indigenous rights in the proposed Canadian constitution.

April 01, 1982

Justin Trudeau and Perry Bellegarde

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism 

Assembly of First Nations is Formed

The Assembly of First Nations is formed out of the National Indian Brotherhood to promote the interests of First Nations in the realm of self-government, respect for treaty rights, education, health, land, and resources.

April 17, 1982

Political Organization and Activism 

Canadian Constitution is Patriated

The Canadian Constitution is patriated, and thanks to the advocacy of Indigenous peoples, Section 35 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal title and treaty rights. Later, Section 37 is amended, obligating the federal and provincial governments to consult with Indigenous peoples on outstanding issues. (See also Duty to Consult.)

May 28, 1983

Pitseolak Ashoona, Joys of Summer Inland, 47.5 x 60.5 cm, colour stonecut on laid japan paper, 1960.


Death of Pitseolak Ashoona

Pitseolak Ashoona, Inuk graphic artist known for her lively prints showing "the things we did long ago," died at Cape Dorset, NWT (now Nunavut).

June 05, 1984


Inuvialuit Final Agreement Signed

The Inuvialuit and the federal government sign the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, a massive Western Arctic land claim.

April 01, 1985


Indian Act Amendment to Restore Status (1985)

Bill C-31 amends the Indian Act to address gender discrimination in the Act. The Act no longer requires women to follow their husbands into or out of status. Women who “married out” could apply for the reinstatement of status rights. The work of First Nations women like Jeannette Corbiere Lavell and Sandra Lovelace Nicholas helped make change a reality. However, Bill C-31 limited the ability to transfer status to one’s children. The bill created new categories of Status Indian registration – 6(1) and 6(2) – and stipulated that status cannot be transferred if one parent is registered under section 6(2). In what is known as the “Second-Generation Cut-Off rule,” children would no longer be eligible for status after two generations of intermarriage with non-status partners. (See also Women and the Indian Act.)

January 01, 1987


Sanaaq, One of the First Inuktitut Novels, is Published

Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk was an Inuit author, teacher and historian. Her most noted achievement is her novel Sanaaq, written in Inuktitut throughout the 1950s and finally published in 1984. One of the first Inuktitut novels, it was translated into French in 2002 and into English in 2014. Nappaaluk was a champion of Inuit culture and traditions and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004.

June 23, 1990

Elijah Harper

Political Organization and Activism 

Meech Lake Accord Collapses

The Meech Lake Accord collapsed after the self-imposed deadline passed. The collapse owed much to Premier Clyde Wells' blockage in Newfoundland and failure to pass in Manitoba thanks to MLA Elijah Harper. It led to further constitutional wrangles and the renewal of the separatist movement in Québec.

July 11, 1990

Oka Confrontation

Indigenous Peoples 

Oka Standoff

A standoff began at Oka, Québec, when police attempted to storm a barricade erected by the Mohawk to block the expansion of a golf course onto land claimed by the Mohawk. The protesters surrendered to soldiers on September 26, after a 2-month-long siege.

August 17, 1990

Indigenous Peoples 

Canadian Forces Called in at Oka

Québec premier Robert Bourassa asked that the Canadian Forces replace the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to resolve the Oka Crisis, a standoff by the Mohawk of the Kanesatake Reserve who had set up a blockade to protest the expansion of a golf course across land they claimed. Corporal Marcel Lemay, of the SQ, was killed on July 11 when the SQ stormed the blockade. The standoff ended peaceably 78 days after it began.

October 30, 1990

Phil Fontaine

Indigenous Peoples 

Phil Fontaine’s Testimony of Abuse at Residential Schools

Phil Fontaine, Head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, speaks publicly of the abuse he suffered at Fort Alexander Residential School. He calls for a public inquiry into the schools, which the federal government initiates in 1991.

March 08, 1991

Indigenous Peoples 

Gitksan Court Case

In Delgamuukw et al v The Queen, the BC Supreme Court ruled that, according to treaties, the Gitksan do not have Aboriginal title to the land, but they do have the right to use it for subsistence.

June 27, 1991

Indigenous Peoples 

Spicer Commission Report

The Spicer Commission recommended that the government foster a sense of country, that Québec be recognized as a unique province, that there be a prompt settlement of Indigenous land claims and that the Senate be reformed or abolished.

August 26, 1991

Indigenous Peoples 

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Initiated

In the wake of the Oka Crisis, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney initiates the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, with a mandate to study the evolution of the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada and Canadian society as a whole.

November 12, 1992

Inuit  Self-Government 

Inuit Endorse Nunavut

The Inuit endorsed the creation of Nunavut, a semi-autonomous territory, in a referendum.

May 25, 1993

Inuit  Self-Government 

Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Signed

Inuit and the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada sign the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the largest in Canada’s history. A new territory, Nunavut, is created from the central and eastern portions of the Northwest Territories in 1999.

June 06, 1995

Indigenous Peoples 

Douglas Lake Ranch Blockade

Members of the Upper Nicola First Nations Band agreed to end a 2-week blockade of the Douglas Lake Ranch in exchange for talks with the BC government over fishing rights.

August 18, 1995

Indigenous Peoples 

Gustafsen Lake Standoff Begins

A tense standoff between RCMP and armed Ts'peten Defenders at Gustafsen Lake, BC, began when Ts’peten Defenders fired at Emergency Response Team officers of the RCMP. Indigenous occupiers believed that the privately-owned ranch land on which they made their stand was a sacred place and part of a larger tract of unceded Shuswap territory. (See also Gustafsen Lake Standoff.)

September 17, 1995

Indigenous Peoples 

Gustafsen Lake Standoff Ends

A tense standoff between RCMP and armed Ts'peten Defenders at Gustafsen Lake, British Columbia, ended. Indigenous occupiers believed that the privately-owned ranch land on which they made their stand was a sacred place and part of a larger tract of unceded Shuswap territory. (See also Gustafsen Lake Standoff.)

October 24, 1995

Indigenous Peoples 

James Bay Cree Referendum

The James Bay Cree held a referendum to decide if their territory should remain a part of Canada should Québec vote to separate in its own forthcoming referendum. With a voter turnout of 77 per cent, 96.3 per cent voted in favour of staying with Canada. The vote was a political statement to the Government of Québec, asserting sovereignty over traditional Cree lands that had been appropriated without consent in 1898 and 1912, and formalizing opposition to Québec separatism.

January 01, 1996

Indigenous Peoples 

Last Federally Operated Residential School Closes

The last federally-run facility, Gordon’s Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, closes.

February 15, 1996

Indigenous Peoples  Self-Government 

Nisga'a Land Claim Agreement

Federal and provincial officials signed an agreement of land claims with the Nishga'a in northwestern British Columbia. The Final Agreement calls for cash payments to the Nisga'a of approximately $190 million over a period of years, and recognizes the communal ownership and self-governance of about 2,000 km2 of Nisga’a lands in the Nass River Valley.

February 23, 1996

Indigenous Peoples 

Bridging the Cultural Gap

The preliminary report of the royal commission into Indigenous affairs recommended that First Nations should be able to set up their own justice systems, appropriate to their own cultures.

November 21, 1996

Indigenous Peoples 

Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

The 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples stated that many of the Indian Act’s measures were oppressive, and noted that “Recognition as 'Indian' in Canadian law often had nothing to do with whether a person was actually of Indian ancestry.”

February 10, 1997

Archeological discoveries 

Revised Dating of Americas

A team of scientists announced that the dating of early human remains in Chile showed that human ancestors lived in the Americas 1300 years prior to previous estimates.

April 23, 1999

Indigenous Peoples 

Court Rules on Sentencing of Indigenous People

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the lower courts should apply traditional disciplinary practices when sentencing Indigenous persons found guilty of criminal offences.

May 20, 1999

Indigenous Peoples 

Off-Reserve Voting Rights

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously to open Indigenous band elections to off-reserve band members, stating that excluding them violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

September 17, 1999

Indigenous Peoples 

Mi'kmaq Fishing Rights Upheld

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that treaties from the 1760s guaranteed Mi'kmaq rights to fish, hunt and log year round. The ruling sparked controversy, as the Mi'kmaq began to fish lobster out of season. Angry non-Indigenous fishermen destroyed lobster traps and other equipment, sunk a boat and carried out an armed blockade of Yarmouth Harbour, NS. The conflict ended when an agreement was reached that allowed the Mi’kmaq to fish for subsistence only.

October 15, 1999

Archeological discoveries 

Kennewick Man

A US scientific panel concluded that the bones of a skeleton found in Washington State bore more resemblance to Polynesians than to Indigenous people in North America, challenging the view that the first humans came to North America from Siberia.

November 17, 1999

Indigenous Peoples 

Mi'kmaq Rights Clarified

The Supreme Court of Canada clarified its earlier ruling (September 17) regarding Mi'kmaq (Micmac) fishing rights, stating that the ruling had been misinterpreted. It stated that the ruling applied did not guarantee open season on fishing.

December 13, 1999

Indigenous Peoples  Self-Government 

Nisga'a Treaty Approved

The House of Commons voted 217-48 in favour of a bill that would give the Nisga'a of northwest BC the right to self-government. The band received 2000 sq km of land and $253 million. In return they agreed to pay taxes and relinquish future claims.

April 13, 2000

Indigenous Peoples  Self-Government 

Nisga'a Treaty

The Nisga'a Treaty was given royal assent by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

May 11, 2000

Indigenous Peoples  Self-Government 

Nisga'a Final Agreement

The Nisga'a Final Agreement, recognizing Nisga'a lands and self-government, went into effect.

March 10, 2001

Indigenous Peoples 

Nuu-chah-nulth Agree to Treaty

The Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council, the largest Indigenous group in British Columbia, agreed to a treaty with the provincial and federal governments, giving it more autonomy over its territories on Vancouver and Meares islands and a large one-time payment.

October 04, 2003

Indigenous Peoples 

Mohawks Reject Casino

For the second time in 10 years, the Mohawks of Kahnawake rejected by referendum the proposal to build a casino on the reserve.

November 24, 2005

Indigenous Peoples 

Kelowna Accord

The Kelowna Accord follows 18 months of consultation among federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous leaders on health, education, social, and economic improvements for Indigenous peoples. While 5 billion dollars is promised, no formal agreement on how to dispense the money is reached. A federal election is called, and the Accord is not implemented by the new government.

December 01, 2006


The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Comes Into Effect

The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement comes into effect, addressing ownership of land and resources in James Bay, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Ungava Bay, as well as part of northern Labrador.

September 01, 2007

Indigenous Peoples 

Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement Comes into Effect

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provides compensation to Survivors, including the Common Experience Payment, which is based on the number of years they attended residential school. Claims of sexual and physical abuse are assessed through an independent process. The Agreement focuses on funding and supporting Indigenous health and healing services and also establishes funds for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

January 01, 2008

Indigenous Peoples 

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Formally Acknowledges Crown’s “Duty to Consult" Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada formally acknowledges Supreme Court rulings on the Crown’s “duty to consult” and, if appropriate, accommodate when the Crown considers initiating activities or decisions – often dealing with natural resource extraction – that might impact Indigenous peoples’ treaty rights.

June 01, 2008


Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is Established

The Canadian government authorizes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to document the truth of Survivors, families and communities and inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. It is funded by the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.

June 11, 2008

Indigenous Peoples 

Formal Apology to Former Residential Schools Students

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivers a formal apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families, and communities for Canada's role in the operation of residential schools. Provincial and territorial apologies follow in the years ahead.

April 03, 2009

Indigenous Peoples 

Tsawwassen Treaty

The Tsawwassen First Nation treaty in British Columbia legally took effect, providing Indigenous members of the Lower Mainland region financial support to help increase the economic vitality of the area. It is was the first urban treaty ever negotiated in British Columbia.

June 16, 2010


First National Truth and Reconciliation Event

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hosts its first national event, in Winnipeg, MB. It explores the history of the residential school system, the experience of former students and their families and the impact such institutions had on Indigenous peoples in Canada. Over the next five years, six more events follow in cities around the country, with a national closing ceremony in Ottawa.

November 01, 2012

Political Organization and Activism 

Idle No More Movement Begins

Four women start Idle No More as a national (and online) movement of marches and teach-ins, raising awareness of Indigenous rights and advocating for self-determination.

January 08, 2013

Kenojuak Ashevak, artist


Kenojuak Ashevak Dies

Kenojuak Ashevak, a Nunavummiuq artist whose work became an icon of the Canadian Arctic, died at age 85 in her home at Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

May 01, 2013

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism 

First Orange Shirt Day

Residential School survivors and their families gathered at Williams Lake, BC, to honour the survivors. Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) woman, spoke of her first day at Residential School, when she was stripped of her new orange shirt. From this came the idea to adopt the orange shirt as a symbol of remembrance, teaching and healing.

August 15, 2013

Indigenous Peoples 

First Totem Pole Erected in Gwaii Haanas in 130 Years

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole, carved by a team of Haida craftsmen led by Jaalen Edenshaw, was erected in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on Haida Gwaii. The totem pole was the first erected on Gwaii Haanas in 130 years. It marked the site of the 1985 standoff over a proposed clear-cut logging operation that led, eight years later, to the 1993 South Moresby Agreement. That agreement created Gwaii Haanas, an ecological and heritage partnership between the Haida Nation and Parks Canada.

January 10, 2014


First Indigenous Constitution in Ontario

Members of the Nipissing First Nation voted in favour of adopting their own constitution, or Gichi-Naaknigewin, believed to be the first such document among First Nations communities in Ontario. Its purpose is to allow the nation to define its membership and create laws. Legal experts say it is unclear, however, whether this constitution will run up against Canadian laws such as the Indian Act, which it is designed to replace.

March 27, 2014


Final National Truth and Reconciliation Event

The seventh and final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) takes place over three days in Edmonton, Alberta inviting individuals, families, and communities to share their experiences at residential schools.

May 16, 2014


National Operational Review on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

The RCMP released the National Operational Review on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. Research identified 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canadian police databases: 164 missing (dating back to 1952) and 1,017 murdered (between 1980 and 2012).

May 26, 2014

Indigenous Peoples 

Residential School Monument in Winnipeg

A monument to honour the Survivors of residential schools was unveiled in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the Peace Garden outside of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

June 02, 2015


Summary Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission releases the summary of its final report on the residential school system and the experiences of survivors, characterizing Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples as “cultural genocide.” The report includes 94 calls to action aimed at redressing the legacy of residential schools and assisting in the process of reconciliation.

July 25, 2015

Indigenous Peoples 

First Official Indigenous Pride Event in Canada

An LGBTQ pride celebration believed to be the first on-reserve event of its kind in Canada was held at the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ontario. Remarks from local leaders including Chief Ava Hill honoured the community's two-spirited people.

September 08, 2015

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Basil Johnston

Anishinaabe author, storyteller and educator Basil Johnston died in Wiarton, Ontario, at age 86. A survivor of the residential school system, Johnston published his first book in his 40s and went on to publish over 20 more — many of them devoted to the history, stories and language of the Anishinaabe people. Five of his books were written in the Anishinaabemowin language. Johnston, who was a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, had a profound impact on a younger generation of First Nations writers, including Tomson Highway, Drew Hayden Taylor and Joseph Boyden.

October 04, 2015


REDress Project Calls for Donations

The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous  women, asked for the donation of red dresses, and for Canadians to hang their own. Métis artist Jaime Black initiated the project, which has displayed hundreds of red dresses in public spaces such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

November 03, 2015


National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Opens

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a permanent archive of materials, documents and testimonies on residential schools gathered during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,opens at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

December 15, 2015


Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission releases its final report, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the ceremonial release of the report,commits his government to implementing all of the 94 recommendations set out in the June 2015 summary report.

February 11, 2016


Last Fluent Nuchatlaht Speaker Dies

Alban Michael, the last fluent speaker of the Nuchatlaht language, died in Campbell River, British Columbia, at age 89. Raised on Nootka Island, Michael spoke only Nuchatlaht until he was forced to learn English at a residential school in Tofino as a child. He nevertheless maintained his fluency in Nuchatlaht so that he could speak with his mother, who did not speak English.

April 14, 2016

Supreme Court of Canada

Indigenous Peoples 

Supreme Court Ruling Changes Legal Definition of “Indian”

The Supreme Court of Canada rules unanimously that the legal definition of “Indian” — as laid out in the Constitution — includes Métis and non-status Indians. While this ruling did not grant status to Métis and non-status Indians, it helped facilitate possible negotiations over traditional land rights, access to education and health programs, and other government services.

May 10, 2016

Flag of the United Nations

Indigenous Peoples 

Canada Supports UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett announced Canada’s full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Conservative government under Stephen Harper had endorsed the declaration in 2010, but with qualifications that gave Canada “objector” status at the UN with respect to the document. Bennett's announcement removed this status. The declaration recognizes a wide range of Indigenous rights, from basic human rights to land, language and self-determination rights.

May 30, 2016

Kathleen Wynne

Indigenous Peoples  Reconciliation 

Premier Wynne Issues Residential Schools Apology

In response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne formally apologizes on behalf of the provincial government for the abuses committed against Indigenous peoples in the residential school system, as well as for the oppressive policies and practices supported by past Ontario governments. The province announces a $250-million, three-year investment in several initiatives aimed at reconciliation.

September 19, 2016

Annie Pootoogook, Fine Liner Eyebrow, 2001-2002.


Death of Annie Pootoogook

The body of artist Annie Pootoogook, 47, was found in the Rideau River in Ottawa, Ontario. An internationally exhibited winner of the Sobey Art Award, Pootoogook came from a family of accomplished Inuit artists. She moved from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, to Ottawa in 2007, after achieving international recognition.

Days after her death, Ottawa police officer Chris Hrnchiar wrote remarks widely condemned as racist in the comments section of an article on Pootoogook’s death in the Ottawa Citizen. The incident resulted in an internal investigation and, ultimately, a three-month demotion for Hrnchiar, who pleaded guilty to two charges under the Police Services Act.

Ottawa police were still investigating suspicious elements of the case several months after Pootoogook’s death.

February 14, 2017

Sixties Scoop

Law  Reconciliation 

First Victory of a Sixties Scoop Lawsuit

Ontario Superior Court judge Edward Belobaba ruled in favour of Sixties Scoop victims, finding that the federal government did not take adequate steps to protect the cultural identity of on-reserve children taken away from their homes. This was the first victory of a Sixties Scoop lawsuit in Canada.

March 10, 2017

Richard Wagamese

First Nations 

Death of Richard Wagamese

Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) novelist and journalist Richard Wagamese died in Kamloops, British Columbia, at the age of 61. A member of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Wagamese was taken from his family as a young child, during the Sixties Scoop, and only reunited with them as an adult. The experience informed his exploration of his Anishinaabe roots in his writing. He published more than a dozen works in his lifetime, in addition to penning a popular Indigenous affairs column and working in broadcasting.

June 21, 2017

Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council


Trudeau Announces Renaming of Langevin Block

On National Aboriginal Day 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that, in the spirit of reconciliation, Parliament’s Langevin Block would be renamed Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council. Sir Hector-Louis Langevin (after whom the building was named) played an important role in Confederation but was also one of the original architects of the residential schools system, which was designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.

July 26, 2017

Gas pipeline construction


Supreme Court Rules on Pipeline Projects

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Indigenous peoples do not have the power to veto resource development projects such as pipelines. It stated that while the government has a duty to consult with Indigenous communities, the National Energy Board (NEB) is the “final decision maker.” The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation had appealed the NEB’s approval of a modification to Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, which runs through traditional Chippewa territory near London, Ontario.

August 28, 2017


Dissolution of INAC and introduction of two new ministries

Implementing a recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the federal government dissolved Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and replaced it with two new ministries: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs; and Indigenous Services. The government described this restructuring as a “next step” to abolishing the Indian Act.

September 13, 2017


Montréal Changes Coat of Arms and Announces Amherst Street Renaming

Montréal mayor Denis Coderre announced the addition of a white pine to the city’s coat of arms to recognize the contributions of Indigenous people over its history. The initiative was tied to the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Coderre also announced that Amherst Street — named after British general Jeffrey Amherst — would be renamed. Amherst supported the genocide of Indigenous peoples, including the spreading of epidemics by distributing smallpox-carrying blankets.

September 20, 2017


Sayisi Dene Reclaim Part of Traditional Territory

The Manitoba government signed an agreement to revert a portion of the Sayisi Dene’s traditional territory near Little Duck Lake into reserve land for the First Nation. In 1956, the Sayisi Dene were forcibly relocated from this land to the outskirts of Churchill, where they suffered years of extreme hardship.In August 2016, on the 60th anniversary of the forced relocation, Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett issued a formal apology to survivors on behalf of the federal government.

October 05, 2017

Gas pipeline construction

Political Organization and Activism 

Energy East Pipeline Project Cancelled

TransCanada announced that it had cancelled plans to build the Energy East pipeline, which would have carried crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Québec and New Brunswick. From there, oil would have been exported to other countries. The company cited changing market conditions and delays in assessments carried out by the National Energy Board as reasons for its decision. The project’s supporters, including premiers Rachel Notley and Brad Wall, expressed disappointment and criticized the federal government’s approach to the review process. Energy East’s opponents, including municipalities in Québec and Indigenous communities along the proposed path of the pipeline, hailed it as a victory.

October 06, 2017

Sixties Scoop


Sixties Scoop Survivors Receive Settlement

The federal government announced a settlement of $800 million with Sixties Scoop survivors. The Sixties Scoop refers to the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across Canada and the United States in the 1960s. Survivors of these federal and provincial government policies experienced lasting trauma as a result of their separation from their birth families, communities and cultures.

November 24, 2017


Trudeau Issues Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools Apology

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes to the Survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador who were excluded from Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology because residential schools there were not run by the federal government and were established before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949. Survivor Toby Obed, who was instrumental in the class-action lawsuit against the federal government, accepted Trudeau’s apology on behalf of his community. However, Gregory Rich, Innu Nation Grand Chief, refused Trudeau’s apology on behalf of the Innu Nation, saying it was too narrow.

January 01, 2018

Archeological discoveries 

Toronto's oldest artifact trusted to the care of the city over 80 years after its discovery

An Indigenous arrowhead, estimated to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old, has been trusted to the care of the city of Toronto by the woman who discovered it during a class trip to Fort York in 1935. Jeanne Carter discovered what is now considered the oldest artifact discovered on the present-day territory of the city of Toronto.

January 08, 2019

Trans Mountain pipeline protest

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism 

RCMP Arrest 14 People at BC Pipeline Protest

Enforcing a BC Supreme Court injunction that was passed in December, RCMP officers entered a roadblock south of Houston, BC, and arrested 14 members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation. The protestors had been preventing workers from Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., from entering the area on the grounds that they did not have the consent of hereditary leaders to build a pipeline carrying natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. The following day, protests were held in cities across Canada in a show of support for the Wet'suwet'en Nation. 

February 05, 2019

Young Powwow Grass Dancer

Indigenous Peoples 

Federal Government Proposes Stat Holiday for Reconciliation

Bill C-369 would make September 30 a statutory holiday called “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.” (See also Truth and Reconciliation Commission.) September 30 currently recognizes residential school survivors as “Orange Shirt Day.” The goal of the stat holiday would be to ensure that “public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools and other atrocities committed against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.” The bill requires approval from the House of Commons and Senate to become law. It would then need approval from the provinces and territories to be officially observed.

February 12, 2019

Indigenous Peoples 

Jody Wilson-Raybould Resigns from Cabinet Amid SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who had been Justice Minister until a Cabinetshuffle on 14 January, resigned from Cabinet days after news broke that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured her to help Quebec constructionfirm SNC-Lavalin avoid facing criminal prosecution. In the wake of the news, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts resigned on 18 February and a federal hearing on the issue was held beginning on 20 February. In her testimony to the hearing on 27 February, Wilson-Raybould claimed that almost a dozen senior government officials made a “sustained effort” to convince her to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau disagreed with her recollection of events and claimed that he and his staff “always acted appropriately and professionally” on the matter.

June 03, 2019

Indigenous Peoples 

Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Released

The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls reveals that persistent and deliberate human rights violations are the source of Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people. The report gives 231 calls for justice to governments, police forces and institutions.

January 15, 2020

Trans Mountain pipeline protest

Political Organization and Activism 

Wet'suwet'en First Nation Protests Against Trans Mountain Pipeline

Environmental activists held protests on Vancouver Island and at the Toronto office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, calling for the federal government to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through the Wet'suwet'en First Nation territory in British Columbia. Coastal GasLink had obtained approval from the elected councils of 20 First Nations, but hereditary clan leaders refused to consent to the pipeline and demanded that it not proceed.

July 19, 2020

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism 

1492 Landback Lane Protest Begins

Members of Six Nations of the Grand River, located near HamiltonOntario, started what would become a months-long occupation of a residential housing project in nearby Caledonia, known as 1492 Land Back Lane. The Haudenosaunee asserted that the land on which these projects were built was never surrendered to the Crown. On 1 July 2021, the housing project was cancelled.

September 28, 2020

Indigenous Peoples 

Joyce Echaquan Livestreams Hospital Staff’s Refusal to Treat Her before She Dies

Embed from Getty Images

At a hospital in Joliette, Quebec, Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman and a mother of seven, died shortly after she livestreamed a nurse and an orderly refusing to tend to her as they made racist, derogatory comments about her. On 5 October, coroner Gehane Kamel reported that hospital staff failed to properly assess the heart palpitations Echaquan was experiencing and instead assumed she was suffering from opioid withdrawal. When Echaquan became distressed and agitated, hospital staff called her “theatrical” and strapped her to a bed. Kamel called the incident an “undeniable” example of systemic racism. A lawyer for Echaquan’s family planned to file a human rights complaint and a civil suit against the hospital.

May 27, 2021

Archeological discoveries  Indigenous Peoples  Reconciliation 

200 Possible Unmarked Graves Found on Grounds of Kamloops Residential School

Embed from Getty Images

Ground disturbances indicating 200 possible unmarked graves were found using ground penetrating radar on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School — at one time the largest residential school in the country. Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation called the finding an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented.”

June 23, 2021

Archeological discoveries  Indigenous Peoples 

Hundreds of Possible Unmarked Graves Found at Saskatchewan Residential School

One month after the discovery of 200 possible unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC, ground-penetrating radar revealed an estimated 751 possible unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess First Nation territory, about 150 km east of Regina. The radar search began on 1 June. The Marieval school was open from 1899 to 1997 and was administered by the Catholic Church until 1968.

June 28, 2021

Indigenous Peoples  Reconciliation 

BC Commits $12 Million to Help First Nations Search More Residential School Sites

The British Columbia government committed $12 million to help First Nations in the province search the grounds of former residential schools for more unmarked children’s graves. Some of the funds were also directed toward mental health supports. The province said it would work with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Indigenous Services Canada, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to ensure that the funds went to projects led by First Nations.

July 01, 2021

Judge Mahmud Jamal speaks during an official welcoming ceremony at the Supreme Court of Canada, October 28, 2021 in Ottawa.


First South Asian Canadian to Sit on Supreme Court

Mahmud Jamal became the first racialized person and the first South Asian Canadian to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada. A former Fulbright scholar with a background in law and economics, Jamal worked as a litigator with the Toronto firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP before becoming a judge with the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

July 01, 2021

Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism  Reconciliation 

Thousands Attend “Cancel Canada Day” Rally in Ottawa

The annual Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill were replaced this year by a “Cancel Canada Day” rally organized by Idle No More and the Anishinaabe nation. Thousands of people, many of them wearing orange shirts, marched from the offices of Indigenous Services Canada in Gatineau to Parliament Hill, where they gathered to “honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian state.” Flags on Parliament Hill flew at half-mast in honour of the hundreds of dead children that had been found on the sites of former residential schools weeks earlier.

July 12, 2021

Archeological discoveries 

160+ Possible Unmarked Graves Found at Another BC Residential School

Penelakut Tribe Chief Joan Brown said in a statement that more than 160 “undocumented and unmarked” graves had been found on Penelakut Island, formerly Kuper Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island southeast of Nanaimo. The possible graves were found at the site of the Kuper Island Industrial School, a residential school run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969 and by the federal government from 1969 until 1975.

July 26, 2021

Indigenous Peoples 

Mary Simon Becomes First Indigenous Person To Be Governor General

Embed from Getty Images

Inuk leader Mary Simon was formally installed as Canada’s 30th Governor General, making her the first Indigenous person to hold Canada’s viceregal position.

August 10, 2021

Archeological discoveries  Indigenous Peoples  Political Organization and Activism 

Ottawa to Spend $321 Million on Residential School Searches

The federal government announced a plan to provide $321 million in funding to Indigenous groups for residential school searches and other initiatives, including the creation of a national commemorative monument to the victims and survivors of residential schools.

September 30, 2021

Indigenous Peoples  Reconciliation 

First National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Canada recognized the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an annual statutory holiday. The creation of the holiday was one of 94 recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, which was published in June 2015. The holiday was officially created with the passage of Bill C-5 on 3 June 2021, less than two weeks after the confirmation of 215 unmarked children’s graves at the site of a former residential school near Kamloops, BC. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation after he spent the day on vacation in Tofino, BC, rather than participate in any official events.

December 15, 2021

Archeological discoveries  Indigenous Peoples 

Children Who Didn’t Come Home from Residential Schools Named Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year

Embed from Getty Images

The Canadian Press named “children who didn’t come home from residential schools” as Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year. More than 1,000 unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools across Western Canada had been confirmed since the first findings at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School were made public on 27 May.