Indigenous People | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Education Guide

    Aboriginal Arts & Stories: Junior Writing Teacher's Guide

    The Junior Writing learning tool provides interactive classroom activities that aid in the research and creative process, as well as encourage critical thinking. The guide outlines four projects that explore cultural significance and personal awareness.

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  • Article

    Indigenous Peoples and the Fight for the Franchise

    Imagine that your family has lived on the same land for generations. Over time, others arrive, take residence and establish a government whose rules now apply to you. But they do not include you in consultations — in fact, they specifically exclude you.

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  • Article

    Abraham Okpik

    Abraham “Abe” Okpik,OC, Inuit community leader (born 12 January 1929 in the Mackenzie Delta area, Northwest Territories; died 10 July 1997 in Iqaluit, Nunavut). He was instrumental in Project Surname, a movement to replace the identification numbers assigned to the Inuit in Northern Canada with surnames. He was also the first Inuk to sit on what is now the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. In the mid-1970s, Okpik left a lasting mark on the Inuit language as he worked with other linguists to simplify the Inuit writing system. Okpik is remembered for his efforts in protecting and promoting Inuit language and culture.

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  • Article

    Alexander Kennedy Isbister

    Alexander Kennedy Isbister, Métis schoolmaster, explorer, lawyer (born June 1822 in Cumberland House, Rupert's Land, [now in SK]; died 28 May 1883 in London, England). Isbister explored the Mackenzie River basin in northwestern Canada (from 1838 to 1842) while employed by the Hudson's Bay Company. However, he is best known as a champion of Métis rights and as a distinguished educator and author.

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  • Article

    Alexander Thomas

    Alexander Thomas, writer, Indigenous leader (born on 25 December 1891 in Port Alberni, BC; died there on 28 July 1971).

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  • Article

    André Nault

    André Nault, Métis leader, farmer, and buffalo hunter (born 20 April 1830 in Point Douglas, Red River Colony [now Winnipeg, MB]; died 17 December 1924 in St Vital, MB). Although a kinsman of Louis Riel and always considered a Métis, Nault was not of mixed blood (his mother and father were French Canadian).

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  • Article

    Andrew Paull

    Andrew Paull, Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) leader, organizer, lobbyist (born 6 February 1892 in Squamish, BC; died 28 July 1959 in Vancouver, BC). Andrew Paull was born into a prominent family in the Durieu system at Mission Reserve No 1, Burrard Inlet, British Columbia (see Reserves in British Columbia). Paull was educated at the reserve school and became a longshoreman.

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  • Article

    Arthur Manuel

    Arthur Manuel, Secwépemc leader, author (born 3 September 1951 in Kamloops, BC; died 11 January 2017). Arthur Manuel was a Secwépemc leader who advocated for Indigenous Rights in Canada and around the world. Manuel was a bestselling author, president of the Native Youth Association, Chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade and co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

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  • Article

    Bedard Case

    R v. Bedard (1971) challenged section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act, which concerns the rights of Status Indian women in Canada. The appellant in the case, Yvonne Bedard, took the federal government to court after losing her rights as a Status Indian because of her marriage to a Non-Status man. In 1973, before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Bedard case merged with AG v. Lavell, another case concerning gender discrimination (see Status of Women) in the Indian Act. Although Bedard ultimately lost her reinstatement claims, her case inspired future legal battles regarding women’s rights and the Indian Act, including Lovelace v. Canada (1981) (see Sandra Lovelace Nicholas) and the Descheneaux case (2015).

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  • Article

    Bill Wilson

    Bill Wilson (Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla), Kwagiulth (Kwakwaka’wakw) hereditary chief, politician, administrator (born in 1944 in Comox, British Columbia). A leading theorist in Indigenous politics in British Columbia, Wilson was influential in a successful proposal to amend the Constitution Act, 1982 to enshrine Indigenous rights. He is the father of Jody Wilson-Raybould, former Member of Cabinet in the Justin Trudeau government (2015 to 2019).

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  • Article

    Billy Two Rivers

    Billy Two Rivers (Kaientaronkwen), political leader, professional wrestler, actor, activist (born 5 May 1935 in Kahnawá:ke, QC; died 12 February 2023 in Kahnawá:ke, QC). Two Rivers’ Kanyen’kehà:ka (Mohawk) name was Kaientaronkwen. He was from the Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory, which is on the St. Lawrence River’s south shore, south of Montreal. While he learned English in school, his first language was Kanien'kéha (Mohawk).

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  • Education Guide

    Canada History Week 2021: Indigenous History Learning Tool

    This learning tool has been created to accompany the three short videos produced for Canada History Week 2021, featuring Inuk author Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, Métis composer Pierre Falcon, and Squamish leader Chief Joe Capilano.

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  • Article

    Caroline Cochrane

    Caroline Cochrane, Métis politician, social worker, premier of the Northwest Territories (born 5 December 1960 in Flin Flon, MB). Cochrane became the MLA for Range Lake, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (NWT) in 2015. In October 2019, she became the second female premier of the NWT. As of 2019, she is Canada’s only female premier.

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  • Article

    Catherine Sutton (Nahneebahwequa)

    Catherine Sutton (née Sonego or Sunegoo) (sometimes spelled Catharine, also known as Nahnee, Nahneebahwequa and Upright Woman), Anishinaabe (Mississauga) writer, Methodist missionary and political advocate (born 1824 in the Credit River flats, Upper Canada; died 26 September 1865 in Sarawak Township, Grey County, Canada West). Catherine Sutton was as an advocate for her people during a time when the cultural, political and economic rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada were formally eroded by assimilationist policies.

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  • Article


    Si'k-okskitsis (known by various other names including Black Wood Ashes, Charcoal, The Palate, Paka’panikapi, Lazy Young Man and Opee-o’wun), Kainai warrior, spiritual leader (born circa 1856 in present-day southern AB; died 16 Mar 1897 in Fort Macleod, AB). Si'k-okskitsis was involved in a domestic dispute that ended in murder. He fled but was eventually caught by police, tried and hanged. The story of Si’k-okskitsis’s life speaks to larger themes of relations between Indigenous peoples and settlers, the settlement of the West, and changes to traditional ways of life on the plains.

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