timeline

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.

Pitikwahanapiwiyi (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, 1000

Indigenous Peoples 

Norse Explorers Meet Indigenous Peoples

Norse explorers meet Indigenous peoples (possibly Dorset, Inuit, Thule or Beothuk) on Baffin Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. They exchange goods, but hostility prevents lasting Norse settlement. L’Anse aux Meadows is believed to be the first European settlement in North America.

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

Law 

“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

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.

June 02, 1537

Indigenous Peoples 

Pope's Proclamation on Aboriginal People

Pope Paul III proclaimed that aboriginal people "are truly human" and so should not be enslaved, and that they should receive the Roman Catholic faith.

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 Iroquois Country

Samuel de Champlain explored Iroquois 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 Iroquois

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

January 01, 1613

Self-Government 

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 Iroquois

Champlain and his allies arrived at an Iroquois fort on Lake Onanadaga, just north of present-day Syracuse. The Iroquois routed the invaders, wounding Champlain with 2 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 allies stumbled upon an Iroqouis fort.

March 16, 1649

Martyrdom of the Jesuits

Indigenous Peoples 

Jesuits Killed

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

April 17, 1649

Huronia

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 Iroquois

Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, with 16 Frenchmen and 44 Hurons and Algonquins, held an Iroquois 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 (Iroquois) people 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 1500 Iroquois 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 

Iroquois Peace Treaty

The Iroquois 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 and the British. The Huron 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 Iroquois 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

Law 

King George III's Royal Proclamation

King George III of Britain declares dominion over North America east of the Appalachian Mountains. His Royal Proclamation gives limited recognition of title to Indigenous communities and provides guidelines for negotiating treaties on a nation-to-nation basis.

July 24, 1766

Pontiac

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 aboriginal rights for the future.

April 20, 1769

Pontiac

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 a Native 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."

October 25, 1784

Law 

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

Demasduwit (Mary March)

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.

February 06, 1840

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi, which enabled Great Britain to annex New Zealand, was signed by a group of Maori chiefs and Captain William Hobson.

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

September 07, 1850

Law 

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.

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. The Act 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 

Chilcotin Incident

Chilcotin Indians in BC killed several road workers building a road through their territory. Five Chilcotin were executed for the incident.

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. 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 No 1

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 1

The first post-Confederation treaty was signed at Lower Fort Garry, Man. The first of many “Numbered Treaties,” Treaty No. 1 was signed between the Crown and the Ojibwa 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 Aboriginal hunting grounds.

August 21, 1871

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 2

Treaty Number 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 No. 3

Treaty No. 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 No. 4

Treaty No. 4 was signed at Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask, with Cree, Saulteaux (Chippewa) and other First Nations.

September 20, 1875

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 5

Treaty No. 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

First Nations  Law 

The Indian Act

The Indian Act is introduced. The Act aims to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society.

August 23, 1876

Cree Encampment

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 6

Treaty No. 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 Natives Negotiations

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

September 22, 1877

Red Crow

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 7

Treaty No. 7 was signed at Blackfoot Crossing in southern Alberta by the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarsi 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

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 Ceremony Outlawed

The federal government outlawed the potlatch ceremony of BC's Aboriginal peoples, bowing to pressure from missionaries.

April 19, 1884

Indigenous Peoples 

Creation of Residential Schools

Amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 provide for the creation of Indian residential schools, funded and operated by the Government of Canada and Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and United churches. The Canadian government also bans traditional Indigenous ceremonies, including potlaches, powwows and Sun Dances.

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 Indians and Ottawa boatmen under the command of F.C. Denison.

April 02, 1885

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

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.

April 25, 1890

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.

December 29, 1890

Indigenous Peoples 

Massacre at Wounded Knee

At Wounded Knee, South Dakota, American troops massacred some 200 men, women and children of the Sioux in the last major armed confrontation between Native American Indians and US troops.

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

Pitikwahanapiwiyi (Poundmaker), Plains Cree Chief, 1885

Indigenous Peoples 

Treaty No. 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 No. 8.

July 24, 1899

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Dan George

Actor Dan George, or Teswahno, was born on Burrard IR No 3.

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 Native representatives, presented a petition to the king concerning Aboriginal 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.

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.

February 04, 1916

Muskox on Sea Ice

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Pudlo Pudlat

Pudlo Pudlat, Inuk graphic artist whose work displays the paradoxes of the encounter between two cultures, was born at Kamadjuak Camp, Baffin Island, NWT.

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 was 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.

October 03, 1927

Festival Owl

Indigenous Peoples 

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

Inuit 

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 02, 1929

Where I Used To Live

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Allen Sapp

Cree artist Allen Sapp, one of Canada's foremost Aboriginal painters, was born at Red Pheasant Reserve, Saskatchewan.

July 13, 1929

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Basil Johnston

Anishinaabe author, storyteller and educator Basil Johnston was born on the Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario. 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.

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

Indigenous Peoples 

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.

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.

April 27, 1948

Kusugak, Michael

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Michael Kusugak

Michael Kusugak, Inuit children's writer, was born at Repulse Bay, NWT.

May 05, 1949

Mother & Child

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of George Arluk

George Arluk, Inuit artist and sculptor, was born in the Keewatin region, NWT. Arluk grouped figures together to form abstracted compositions of gently curving forms that undulate rhythmically.

January 01, 1950

Inuit 

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.

September 04, 1951

Self-Government 

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

Inuit 

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.

August 17, 1956

Churchill

Reconciliation 

Forced Relocation of the Sayisi Dene

Concerned that the Sayisi Dene were overhunting caribou around Little Duck Lake in northern Manitoba, the Province successfully petitioned the federal government to relocate the Dene community to the outskirts of Churchill. Despite government promises, the 250 displaced people were left destitute, lacking food, shelter and livelihoods on the tundra, far from their hunting grounds. By 1973, 117 members of the community had died, and survivors were left traumatized by 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.

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

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.

July 01, 1960

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.

January 14, 1961

Indigenous Peoples 

Guerin First Woman Chief

Gertrude Guerin became the first woman elected chief of the Musqueam Indian Band, who reside on the north shore of BC's Fraser River.

November 17, 1966

Chanie Wenjack

Indigenous Peoples 

Coroner’s Inquest Into Charlie 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 27, 1967

Aglukark, Susan

Indigenous Peoples 

Birth of Susan Aglukark

Inuit singer Susan Aglukark was born at Churchill, Man.

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

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 Indian 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.

May 11, 1969

Annie Pootoogook, Man on the Radio, 2006.

Inuit 

Birth of Annie Pootoogook

Annie Pootoogook was born in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, into a family of accomplished Inuit artists. An internationally exhibited winner of the Sobey Art Award, she was best known for her drawings in pen and coloured pencils.

January 01, 1970

Inuit 

Inuit Territory Discussions Begin

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

January 01, 1971

Inuit 

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

Law 

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 Native to hold vice-regal office in Canada.

January 01, 1976

Inuit 

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

Indigenous Peoples 

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.

January 01, 1979

Indigenous Peoples 

28 Residential Schools Remain

Thousands of Indigenous students are enrolled at the twenty-eight residential schools that are still running in Canada.

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.

September 23, 1981

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Dan George

Tes-wah-no, known as Chief Dan George, died at North Vancouver. He worked as a longshoreman before he began his stage and film acting career.

April 01, 1982

Self-Government 

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.

May 28, 1983

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

Indigenous Peoples 

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

Self-Government 

Inuvialuit Final Agreement Signed

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

April 01, 1985

Law 

Indian Act Amendment to Restore Status

The Indian Act is amended to address discrimination faced by First Nations women who face the loss of their Indian status if they marry non-status Indians. This change occurs when Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, a Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) woman from New Brunswick, brings her case to the UN Human Rights Committee.

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.

August 16, 1992

Indigenous Peoples 

Gros-Louis Elected Grand Chief

The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake (located near Québec City) elected Jocelyne Gros-Louis as Grand Chief. She was the first woman to be named as the leader of a First Nation in Canada.

November 12, 1992

Indigenous Peoples 

Inuit Endorse Nunavut

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

May 25, 1993

Inuit 

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 N.W.T. 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.

September 17, 1995

Indigenous Peoples 

Gustafsen Lake Standoff Ends

A tense standoff between RCMP and armed Ts'peten Defenders at Gustafsen Lake, BC, ended. Aboriginal 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.

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 

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 Native 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 Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends a public inquiry into the effects of residential schools, including language loss and trauma. The five-volume, 4,000-page report includes 440 recommendations calling for changes in the relationship between Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous peoples, and all levels of government in Canada.

February 10, 1997

Indigenous Peoples 

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.

July 31, 1997

Indigenous Peoples 

New Head of Assembly

Phil Fontaine was elected the new head of the Assembly of First Nations, defeating incumbent Ovide Mercredi.

April 23, 1999

Indigenous Peoples 

Court Rules on Aboriginal Sentencing

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 aboriginal 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

Indigenous Peoples 

Kennewick Man

A US scientific panel concluded that the bones of a skeleton found in Washington State bore more resemblance to Polynesians than to American Indians, 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 

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 

Nisga'a Treaty

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

May 11, 2000

Indigenous Peoples 

Nisga'a Final Agreement

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

July 12, 2000

Indigenous Peoples 

New First Nations Leader

The Assembly of First Nations elected Matthew Coon Come as its new leader. The former grand chief of the Cree of northern Québec defeated incumbent Phil Fontaine.

March 10, 2001

Indigenous Peoples 

Nuu-chah-nulth Agree to Treaty

The Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council, the largest Native group in BC, 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

Inuit 

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

Reconciliation 

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 BC legally took effect, providing Aboriginal 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 BC.

June 16, 2010

Reconciliation 

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

Indigenous Peoples 

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.

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

Self-Government 

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

Reconciliation 

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

Reconciliation 

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 Aboriginal women 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

Reconciliation 

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 Aboriginal 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

Reconciliation 

REDress Project Calls for Donations

The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal 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

Reconciliation 

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.

November 22, 2015

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Gil Cardinal

Métis filmmaker Gil Cardinal died in Edmonton, AB, at age 65. Cardinal wrote and directed documentaries, miniseries and television episodes, including acclaimed productions for the National Film Board and the CBC. He has been recognized as one of the first Indigenous filmmakers in Canada to break into the mainstream and receive international exposure.

December 15, 2015

Reconciliation 

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.

December 29, 2015

Where I Used To Live

Indigenous Peoples 

Death of Allen Sapp

Cree artist Allen Sapp, one of Canada's foremost Aboriginal painters, died in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, at age 87.

February 11, 2016

Reconciliation 

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 ruled unanimously that the legal definition of “Indian” — as laid out in the Constitution — includes the Métis and non-status Indians. This ruling will 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.

Inuit 

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.

January 11, 2017

Political Organization and Activism 

Death of Arthur Manuel

Arthur Manuel, former chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band in BC and renowned for Indigenous rights and environmental activism, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 66.

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.

March 27, 2017

Political Organization and Activism 

Death of Beau Dick

Master carver, Indigenous activist and Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief Beau Dick died at the age of 61 due to complications from a stroke.

June 21, 2017

Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council

Reconciliation 

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

Law 

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

Indian Act

Reconciliation 

Federal Government Pledges to Scrap Indian Act

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the division of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) into two departments, naming Jane Philpott minister of Indigenous Services and Carolyn Bennett minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Bennett was given the long-term task of ending the Indian Act and transferring certain government powers back to Indigenous peoples. The recommendation to replace INAC with two departments was originally made in the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

August 28, 2017

Reconciliation 

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

Reconciliation 

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

Reconciliation 

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

Law 

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

Reconciliation 

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 Cabinet shuffle on 14 January, resigned from Cabinet days after news broke that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured her to help Quebec construction firm 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.

August 15, 2019

Indian Act

Reconciliation 

Bill S-3

The remaining part of Bill S-3 came into effect. Bill S-3 was created in response to the Descheneaux case (2015), which was about gender discrimination in the Indian Act. The first part of the bill came into effect on 22 December 2017. Among other provisions, the amendment enables more people to pass down Indian Status to their descendants. It also reinstates status to those who lost it before 1985, and it restores status to women and their offspring who lost status before 1951 (known as the “1951 Cut-off”). According to the government, “All known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act have now been addressed.”