Section 1: Introduction to Indigenous Peoples

Aboriginal or Indigenous?

Section 35 (2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, defined “Aboriginal peoples in Canada” as including “the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.”

These terms will be explained as we progress through the guide. Some of them have changed or are changing.

For example, Indian is now considered offensive and has been replaced by First Nations. And we are hearing the term Indigenous more and more in Canada. It is being used synonymously with Aboriginal, and in many cases it is the preferred term as the collective noun for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. There are many reasons for this shift. One reason is that the prefix ab means “away from” or “not,” so aboriginal actually means “not original.” Indigenous comes from the Latin word indigena, which means “sprung from the land; native.” And Indigenous Peoples recognizes that, rather than a single group of people there are many separate and unique Nations (Ward, 2017).

Wherever possible, though, you should use the specific names of the Nations and communities, especially if you are acknowledging territory and identity.

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Aboriginal or Indigenous? by Kory Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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