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North-West Territories (1870–1905)

The North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. It was Established on 15 July 1870. As a territory, the region became part of Canada. But it lacked the population, economic and infrastructure resources to attain provincial status. It thus fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It covered a vast area, stretching west from a disputed boundary with Labrador, across the northern portions of present-day Quebec and Ontario, through the Prairies to British Columbia, and north from the 49th parallel to the Arctic Ocean. The territory was subject to numerous boundary changes before 1905. At that time, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of the southwest portion of the region. In 1906, the remaining territory was renamed the Northwest Territories.

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Residential Schools in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

In the early 1600s, Catholic nuns and priests established the first residential schools in Canada. In 1883, these schools began to receive funding from the federal government. That year, the Government of Canada officially authorized the creation of the residential school system. The main goal of the system was to assimilate Indigenous children into white, Christian society. (See also Inuit Experiences at Residential School and Métis Experiences at Residential School.)

(This article is a plain-language summary of residential schools in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Residential Schools in Canada.)

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History of Cartography in Canada

Cartography is the art, science and technology of making maps, plans, charts and globes representing Earth or any celestial body at any scale. Cartographic documents have been used as vehicles of communication by different cultures for many millennia; the earliest map to survive, drawn about 2300 BCE on a clay tablet, was found in the Middle East. In Canada, Indigenous people drew maps on the ground and in the snow, and sometimes committed them to media such as animal skins or bark. The maps of the 16th century were rough and often conjectural; maps of the French period became more accurate in the better-known areas; and after 1800, with the widespread use of the sextant and advanced astronomical techniques for determining longitude (for example, using the marine chronometer), the major gaps in the map of Canada were filled. During the 20th century, mapping skills were greatly refined in Canada.

This article provides background on the history of cartography in Canada. For more detailed information please see Cartography in Canada: Indigenous Mapmaking; Cartography in Canada: 1500s; Cartography in Canada: 1600–1763; Cartography in Canada: 1763–Second World War; Cartography in Canada: Mapping Since the Second World War; National Topographic System; Cadastral Surveying.

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Eugenics in Canada

Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices aimed at improving the human population through controlled breeding. It includes “negative” eugenics (discouraging or limiting the procreation of people considered to have undesirable characteristics and genes) and “positive” eugenics (encouraging the procreation of people considered to have desirable characteristics and genes). Many Canadians supported eugenic policies in the early 20th century, including some medical professionals, politicians and feminists. Both Alberta (1928) and British Columbia (1933) passed Sexual Sterilization Acts, which were not repealed until the 1970s. Although often considered a pseudoscience and a thing of the past, eugenic methods have continued into the 21st century, including the coerced sterilization of Indigenous women and what some have termed the “new eugenics” — genetic editing and the screening of fetuses for disabilities.

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Manitoba Act

The Manitoba Act provided for the admission of Manitoba as Canada’s fifth province. It received royal assent and became law on 12 May 1870. It marked the legal resolution of the struggle for self-determination between people of the Red River Colony and the federal government, which began with Canada’s purchase of Rupert’s Land in 1870. The Act contained protections for the region’s Métis. However, these protections were not fully realized. As a result, many Métis left the province for the North-West Territories.

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Company of One Hundred Associates

The Company of New France, or Company of One Hundred Associates (Compagnie des Cent-Associés) as it was more commonly known, was formed in France in 1627. Its purpose was to increase New France’s population while enjoying a monopoly on almost all colonial trade. It took bold steps but suffered many setbacks. The company folded in 1663. It earned little return on its investment, though it helped establish New France as a viable colony.

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Right to Vote in Canada

The term franchise denotes the right to vote in elections for members of Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils. The Canadian franchise dates from the mid-18th-century colonial period. At that time, restrictions effectively limited the right to vote to male property holders. Since then, voting qualifications and the categories of eligible voters have expanded according to jurisdiction. These changes reflect the evolution of Canada’s social values and constitutional requirements.

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The Study of Working Class History

The Canadian worker has been a neglected figure in Canadian history. Workers have contributed in many ways to the development of Canadian society, but the history of working people — their families, communities and work places — has only gradually become part of our view of the past and an important component of understanding how we came to occupy our present.

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Capitalism in Canada

Capitalism is an economic system in which private owners control a country’s trade and business sector for their personal profit. It contrasts with communism, in which property effectively belongs to the state (see also Marxism). Canada has a “mixed” economy, positioned between these extremes. The three levels of government decide how to allocate much of the country’s wealth through taxing and spending.

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Hindenburg Line

Hindenburg Line (Siegfried-Stellung), a system of fortified and entrenched reserve positions stretching 80 km southeast from Arras to Soissons, France, built by the Germans in the winter of 1916-17.

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A Dish with One Spoon

The term a dish with one spoon refers to a concept developed by the Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region and northeastern North America. It was used to describe how land can be shared to the mutual benefit of all its inhabitants. According to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), the concept originated many hundreds of years ago and contributed greatly to the creation of the “Great League of Peace” — the Iroquois Confederacy made up of the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Mohawk nations. The Anishinaabeg (the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Mississauga, Saulteaux and Algonquin nations) refer to “a dish with one spoon” or “our dish” as “Gdoo – naaganinaa.”

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Voyageurs

Voyageurs were independent contractors, workers or minor partners in companies involved in the fur trade. They were licensed to transport goods to trading posts and were usually forbidden to do any trading of their own. The fur trade changed over the years, as did the groups of men working in it. In the 17th century, voyageurs were often coureurs des bois — unlicensed traders responsible for delivering trade goods from suppliers to Indigenous peoples. The implementation of the trading licence system in 1681 set voyageurs apart from coureurs des bois, who were then considered outlaws of sorts. Today, the word voyageur, like the term coureur des bois, evokes the romantic image of men canoeing across the continent in search of furs. Their life was full of perilous adventure, gruelling work and cheerful camaraderie.

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Treaties of Fort Stanwix (1768 and 1784)

The first Treaty of Fort Stanwix was signed in 1768 between the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy) and British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northern District, Sir William Johnson. It was the first major treaty to be negotiated according to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Five years after the proclamation had set the western boundary of colonial settlement at the Appalachian Mountains — reserving the vast North American interior as Indigenous territory — the Treaty of Fort Stanwix pushed the border west to the Ohio River, opening up lands to white settlers. The second Treaty of Fort Stanwix, signed in 1784, was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and the newly independent United States. This treaty redrew the eastern boundaries of the first Treaty of Fort Stanwix, surrendering more Indigenous territory.

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Treaty 5

Treaty 5 — also known as the Winnipeg Treaty — was signed in 1875–76 by the federal government, Ojibwa peoples and the Swampy Cree of Lake Winnipeg. Treaty 5 covers much of present-day central and northern Manitoba, as well as portions of Saskatchewan and Ontario. The terms of Treaty 5 have had ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.