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Canada - Indigenous Peoples (Canada)

Last modified: 2023-10-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | first nations | indigenous peoples |
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First Nations

Indigenous Peoples is the collective name for the original inhabitants of North America and their descendants. According to the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada are:

  • First Nations
  • Inuit
  • Métis

There are nearly one million Indigenous People in Canada.

First Nations are the largest Indigenous group in Canada, comprising more than 600,000 people. The term First Nations represents the first peoples of Canada, and their descendants, who are neither Inuit, nor Métis. First Nations includes many culturally diverse groups living across Canada. For example: There are 11 First Nations linguistic families, including 53-70 languages.

The term First Nation has been adopted to replace words such as Indian, Native, Tribe, and Band, which are still commonly used by federal, provincial, and territorial governments.

First Nations people and First Nations communities often use the name of their Nation to describe who they are. For example: Dakota, Dene, Ojibwa (Anishinnabe).

Métis are a distinct cultural group composed of people of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry. In the 2001 Census, 292,000 people identified themselves as Métis. Although the Métis are recognized as one of the three Indigenous peoples of Canada, most Métis people use the word Métis to define themselves and not Aboriginal.

Métis are excluded from registration under the Indian Act. With the exception of the Métis of the Alberta Métis settlements, there are no formal ways of registering the Métis .

Who are the Inuit?

In Canada, Inuit is a general term used to identify a group of Indigenous Peoples who live primarily in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and northern parts of Labrador and Quebec. There are approximately 45,000 Canadian Inuit, and they share a common language and similar culture.

Like the Métis , the Inuit are excluded from registration under the Indian Act.

Only Indigenous Peoples who are registered under the Indian Act receive treaty benefits, meaning that neither Métis nor Inuit qualify.
Kim Scaravelli, 11 July 2008

Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada

[Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada flag] image by Valentin Poposki, 23 April 2020

Confederation des Peuples Autochtones du Canada is an umbrella organization representing several unrecognized tribes in Quebec and New Brunswick

Its flag has the same emblem as the Mikinak Community (which is founder of the Organization) with addition of the name in French (up) and in English (below).
Valentin Poposki, 23 April 2020

A First Nations flag

[First Nations flag] image by Jaume Ollé

Canadian natives do have a flag, I've rarely seen fly - there is an example in the window of the Army surplus store (FS as merchandise) and once on a news report from a native reserve - it is the usual Canadian flag with the image of a native man/chief/warrior (I'm not sure, I'm not native, so I don't know what he is supposed to be) superimposed on the flag.
David Kendall - 1997-12-02

If I remember correctly this flag is hoisted with several patterns. I made a drawing some years ago from a flag seen in photo or TV with the Indian Saskatchewan figure but I believe that other figures are also used. The image is very simple: Canadian flag with a head of a Indian chief in white part.
Jaume Ollé, 24 January 2000

Canadian Native Flags

[Canadian Native Flag] image by Curtis Wilson, 21 June 2014

This flag was designed by an Kwakwaka'wakw artist named Curtis Wilson on Vancouver Island. The design is said to represent all the First Nations of Canada. It is a brand new design and only time will tell, for there is already a flag representing all the First Nations peoples of Canada (although little used). It has the Canadian vertical red-white-red bar design and is defaced with an Indian chief in feather headdress in the middle, which replaces the maple leaf. More commonly, however, many of the tribes simply use their own individual tribal flags.
Pete Loeser, 21 June 2014

[Canadian Native Flag] image by Nigel Fox, located by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 December 2016

Another artistic version of the national flag using native motifs and style. Artwork Canadian flag by Nigel Fox (Ojibwe)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 December 2016

This flag design was released to the public in August 2012.
Artist's website:
Nigel Fox, 8 June 2022

Canadian-Indian flag being sold in Australia

[Canadian-Indian flag] image contributed by Bill Garrison, 23 March 2007

Two-spirited people of the First Nations

[Two spirited people flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 27 August 2014

2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations is a social services organization of First Nations LGBT people in Toronto. Name "two-spirited" for the LGBT people comes from the belief that such people have both male and female spirits, unlike the straight people, whose only spirit corresponds to their physiological gender. The flag of the organization is derived from the Canadian Pride Flag, by replacing the red maple leaf with the organization's logo drawn in black. Central element of the logo are two incompletely visible human faces, partly hidden by a medicine wheel placed between them; one of faces could be female and the other could be male, but it cannot be precisely told (which was probably intended). Inscription 2-spirits is placed beneath the logo. The photo of the flag dating from 2014-05-29 can be found at and The earliest photo of the flag is dating from 2005-06-02 at (Image:
Tomislav Todorovic
, 27 August 2014

One of the most recent examples of the flag use is from the Two Spirits Pow-wow in Toronto on 2023-05-27. The photos from the event are available here:
and here:
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 September 2023

[Two spirited people flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 27 August 2014

Prior to 2005, a different flag was used, derived from the gay rainbow flag by adding a large disc quartered black (top hoist), white (top fly), red (bottom hoist) and yellow (bottom fly), with a black fimbriation all around. These colors represent the four cardinal directions in many North American indigenous cultures.

The photo of this flag, dating from 2004, can be found at (Image:
Tomislav Todorovic
, 27 August 2014

Whether the flag had fallen out of use in 2005 or not, it seems to have become a general symbol of the two-spirited people in Canada, for the examples of its more recent use outside Toronto have been recorded. In Elliot Lake, Ontario it was used in May 2018: (image:
and again in May 2022: (image:

In 2018, it was also used by the University of Winnipeg, along with the Rainbow Flag, to mark the beginning of the yearly Pride events on 2018-05-25: (image 1; image 2)

About both of the images reported above:

Both flags have appeared at the World Pride 2019 in New York City, where they were brought by a Two-Spirited Indigenous People's Association, whose emblem includes the rainbow stripes and four-colored disc, although not combined as in the flag. The flags may have been introduced to the USA by the Blackfeet Nation, Montana, whose flag was also brought there; they must have learned about the flag from the Blackfeet people of Alberta, with which they maintain institutional links through the Blackfeet Confederacy.

All of the above facts can be learned through the following series of images which, when viewed as ordered below, display the passing of the whole group of the Pride participants who brought these flags:

As this is currently the only recorded example of the flags' use in the USA, the actual scope of their use in the country is yet to be discovered.
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 September 2023

First Nations Tax Commission

[First Nations Tax Commission flag] image by Darrell Neuman, 6 July 2012

FNTC is a First Nation public institution whose primary responsibilities include ensuring the First Nations property tax system is administratively efficient, harmonized, improves economic growth, and is responsive to on-reserve taxpayers.
Darrell Neuman, 6 July 2012

First Nations and Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Quebec and Labrador

[First Nations and Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Quebec and Labrador flag] image by Darrell Neuman, 13 July 2012