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Tionontati (Petun)

Tionontati (also known as Petun) are an Iroquoian-speaking Indigenous people, closely related to the Huron-Wendat. The French called them Petun because they were known for cultivating tobacco or petún. The people call themselves Tionontati. After war with the Haudenosaunee in the mid-1600s, Tionontati and some other survivors, including the Attignawantan (a Huron-Wendat people) and the Wenrohronon (or Wenro), joined to become the Wendat, now known as the Wyandotte (or Wyandot) Nation. Today, the Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Oklahoma in the United States. There are also Wyandotte communities in Michigan (Wyandot of Anderdon Nation) and Kansas (Wyandot Nation of Kansas).

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Cree

Cree are the most populous and widely distributed Indigenous peoples in Canada. Other words the Cree use to describe themselves include nehiyawak, nihithaw, nehinaw and ininiw. Cree First Nations occupy territory in the Subarctic region from Alberta to Quebec, as well as portions of the Plains region in Alberta and Saskatchewan. According to 2016 census data, 356,655 people identified as having Cree ancestry and 96,575 people speak the Cree language.

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Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi)

Innu, which means “people” in the Innu language, is the predominant term used to describe all Innu. Some groups maintain the use of one of two older terms: Montagnais (French for “mountain people”), usually applied to groups in forested, more southern communities, and Naskapi, which refers to far northern groups who inhabit the barren lands of the subarctic. In the 2016 census, 27,755 people identified as having Innu/Montagnais ancestry, while an additional 1,085 identified as Naskapi.

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Plateau Indigenous Peoples in Canada

There are six cultural areas contained in what is now Canada, unrestricted by international boundaries. The Plateau cultural area consists of the high plateau between the British Columbia coastal mountains and the Rocky Mountains, and extends south to include parts of Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. At lower elevations it is comprised of grasslands and subarctic forests. Plateau Indigenous peoples include, among others, the Secwepemc, Stl’atl’imc, Ktunaxa, and Tsilhqot’in. (See also Interior Salish.)

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Freda Diesing

Freda Diesing, Haida artist (born 2 June 1925 in Prince Rupert, BC; died there 3 December 2002). Diesing was best known for her contributions to reviving traditional Haida art forms, including wood carving, mask carving and totem carving. She was one of the few women carvers who mastered the medium, and was partly responsible for bringing the style to an international audience. Diesing worked to ensure the style and tradition of Haida art was passed on to new generations. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)

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Subarctic Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The term “Subarctic Indigenous peoples” describes a number of different ethnic and linguistic groups, including the Dene, Cree, Ojibwe, Atikamekw, Innu and Beothuk. The Subarctic region consists largely of a five million square kilometre zone of boreal forest extending from the arctic tundra south to the mountains, plains and deciduous forest in the mid-section of the country. West to east, it extends from the Bering Sea to Labrador. The Subarctic is one of six cultural areas contained in what is now Canada. Unlike provinces and countries, these cultural areas do not have strict boundaries, and instead refer to areas in more general terms.

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Carl Ray

Carl Ray, Cree artist, illustrator, editor and art teacher (born January 1943 in Sandy Lake, ON; died 26 September 1978 in Sioux Lookout, ON). Ray was known for his innovative paintings in the Woodlands style and was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. Ray’s work has influenced Indigenous art in Canada and can be found in the collections of various galleries and museums across the country.

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Joseph Sánchez

Joseph Marcus Sánchez, artist, curator (born 24 February 1948 in Trinidad, Colorado, United States). In 1970, Joseph Sánchez travelled to Canada, settling in Richer, Manitoba. He became a founding member of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., known widely as the Indian Group of Seven. Sánchez remained in Canada until 1975-76, leaving a lasting impact on the recognition and exposure of First Nations art and artists. Sánchez went on to become a community elder and political activist. He has worked as a museum director and curator for major galleries and exhibitions. His artwork has been exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States and Europe, and he has provided essays for a number of exhibition catalogues.

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Eddy Cobiness

Eddy “Doc” Cobiness, Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) artist (born 17 July 1933 in Warroad, Minnesota, United States; died 1 January 1996 in Winnipeg, MB). He was a founding and eminent member of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., known widely as the Indian Group of Seven. Cobiness’s artwork was featured in many prominent collections, including those of Queen Elizabeth II, former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien and Academy Award-winning actor Charlton Heston. Influenced by Pablo Picasso, Cobiness worked in many mediums, including ink, watercolour, oil and acrylic, and his stylized brush strokes were referred to as “flowing.” Cobiness’s artwork often depicted animals and the natural world.

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Gitxsan

Gitxsan (Gitksan), meaning “People of the River Mist,” live along the Skeena River of northwestern British Columbia in the communities of Hazelton, Kispiox and Glen Vowell (the Eastern Gitxsan bands) and Kitwanga, Kitwankool and Kitsegukla (the Western Gitxsan). In the 2016 census, 5,675 people claimed Gitxsan ancestry.

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Ojibwe

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa and Ojibway) are an Indigenous people in Canada and the United States who are part of a larger cultural group known as the Anishinaabeg. Chippewa and Saulteaux people are also part of the Ojibwe and Anishinaabe ethnic groups. The Ojibwe are closely related to the Odawa and Algonquin peoples, and share many traditions with neighbouring Cree people, especially in the north and west of Ontario, and east of Manitoba. Some Cree and Ojibwe peoples have merged to form Oji-Cree communities. In their traditional homelands in the Eastern Woodlands, Ojibwe people became integral parts of the early fur trade economy. Ojibwe culture, language (Anishinaabemowin) and activism have persisted despite assimilative efforts by federal and provincial governments, and in many cases are representative of the enduring First Nations presence in Canada.

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Bertha Clark-Jones

Bertha Clark-Jones (née Houle), OC, Cree-Métis advocate for the rights of Indigenous women and children (born 6 November 1922 in Clear Hills, AB; died 21 October 2014 in Bonnyville, AB). A veteran of the Second World War, Clark-Jones joined the Aboriginal Veterans Society and advocated for the fair treatment of Indigenous ex-service people. She was co-founder and first president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Clark-Jones devoted her life to seeking equality and greater power for women in Canada.

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Health of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Prior to colonization, Indigenous peoples possessed rich and diverse healing systems. Settlers’ introduction of new and contagious diseases placed these healing systems under considerable strain. Europeans also brought profound social, economic and political changes to the well-being of Indigenous communities. These changes continue to affect the health of Indigenous peoples in Canada today. (See also Social Conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Economic Conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Indian

The term Indian, when used to identify Indigenous peoples in South, Central and North America, is considered outdated and offensive. In Canada, the term has been used historically to refer to Indigenous peoples, but it also has modern legal significance. It is used to refer to legally defined identities set out in the Indian Act, such as Indian Status. For some Indigenous peoples, the term Indian confirms their ancestry and protects their historic relationship to the Crown and federal government. For others, the definitions set out in the Indian Act are not affirmations of their identity.

(The term Indian in the context of this article does not refer to Indian people of South Asia. For more information on people of that community, please see South Asian Canadians.)

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Inuit Country Food in Canada

Country food is a term that describes traditional Inuit food, including game meats, migratory birds, fish and foraged foods. In addition to providing nourishment, country food is an integral part of Inuit identity and culture, and contributes to self-sustainable communities. Environmental and socioeconomic changes have threatened food security, making country food more expensive and difficult to harvest. Despite these challenges, the Inuit, in partnership with various levels of government and non-profit organizations, continue to work towards improving access to country food.

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Jackson Beardy

Jackson Beardy (also known as Quincy Pickering Jackson Beardy), Oji-Cree artist (born 24 July 1944 in Island Lake, MB; died 8 December 1984 in Winnipeg, MB). Beardy was part of the Woodlands School of Indigenous art, and in 1973 he became part of a group of Indigenous artists popularly known as the Indian Group of Seven. His stylized artworks — sometimes painted on canvas, birch bark or beaver skins — were often concerned with the interdependence of humans and nature. They also tended to depict figures from Ojibwe and Cree oral traditions. From the late 1960s to his death in the early 1980s, Beardy promoted Indigenous art as a valid category of contemporary art. His influence as a Woodland artist has contributed to the development of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

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Chief

Chief is a word used to denote status or leadership upon an individual in a group, clan or family. The origin of the word is European; colonists used it to refer to the leaders of Indigenous nations during the era of contact. While different Indigenous nations have their own terms for chief, the English version of the word is still used widely to describe leaders tasked with promoting cultural and political autonomy. The term is also used by institutions and organizations that are not exclusively Indigenous to refer to heads of staff (e.g., chief of police, commander-in-chief, chief executive officer). This article explores the historical and contemporary uses of the term in the Indigenous context.

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Indigenous Treaties in Canada

Indigenous treaties in Canada are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Most of these agreements describe exchanges where Indigenous nations agree to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for various payments and promises. On a deeper level, treaties are sometimes understood, particularly by Indigenous people, as sacred covenants between nations that establish a relationship between those for whom Canada is an ancient homeland and those whose family roots lie in other countries. Treaties therefore form the constitutional and moral basis of alliance between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was officially launched in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. This multi-faceted agreement was intended to compensate survivors for the harms they suffered in residential schools, and to work towards a more just and equitable future for Indigenous peoples. The TRC was also meant to lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation across Canada. The TRC’s six-volume final report was released on 15 December 2015. It argued that the residential school program resulted in cultural genocide and outlined 94 Calls to Action.

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Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada

Contemporary Indigenous art is that which has been produced by Indigenous peoples between around 1945 to the present. Since that time, two major schools of Indigenous art have dominated the contemporary scene in Canada: Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and the Woodland school of Legend Painters. As well, a more widely scattered group of artists work independently in the context of mainstream Western art and may be described as internationalist in scope and intent. Contemporary Inuit art has evolved in parallel with contemporary Indigenous art, producing celebrated artists like Zacharias Kunuk and Annie Pootoogook. (See also Important Indigenous Artists in Canada and History of Indigenous Art in Canada.)