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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.
Walking Buffalo (Tatanga Mani)
Walking Buffalo (born Tatanga Mani, also known as George McLean), Stoney-Nakoda leader, statesman, philosopher (born 20 March 1870 in the Bow River Valley near Morley, AB; died 27 December 1967 in Banff, AB). Walking Buffalo was present at the signing of Treaty 7 (1877) and later served as a respected leader in Bearspaw First Nation until his death. Walking Buffalo preached world peace and, in 1959, journeyed around the globe to spread this word. He was a strong advocate for protecting the environment and Indigenous rights and culture.
A wigwam is a domed or cone-shaped house that was historically used by Indigenous peoples. It was prevalent in the eastern half of North America before the era of colonization.
Today, wigwams are used for cultural functions and ceremonial purposes. (See also Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada
Before European settlement in Canada, Indigenous peoples spoke a wide variety of languages. As a means of assimilating Indigenous peoples, colonial policies like the Indian Act and residential schools forbid the speaking of Indigenous languages. These restrictions have led to the ongoing endangerment of Indigenous languages in Canada. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that for about 40 Indigenous languages in Canada, there are only about 500 speakers or less. Indigenous communities and various educational institutions have taken measures to prevent more language loss and to preserve Indigenous languages.
Indigenous Sign Languages in Canada
In addition to the spoken word, some Indigenous cultures historically have used sign languages to communicate. Though a small number of people know Indigenous sign languages, American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language have largely replaced Indigenous sign languages in Canada. Efforts are underway in a variety of Indigenous communities to revitalize these lost systems of communication. (See also Deaf Culture and Indigenous Languages in Canada.)
Indian is a term that is now considered outdated and offensive, but has been used historically to identify Indigenous peoples in South, Central and North America. In Canada,
“Indian” also has 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.
Moccasins are a type of footwear often made of animal hide and traditionally made and worn by various Indigenous peoples in Canada. During the fur trade, Europeans adopted these heelless, comfortable walking shoes to keep their feet warm and dry. Moccasins continue to serve as practical outerwear, as well as pieces of fine Indigenous handiwork and artistry.
The Interior Salish peoples include the Lillooet (see Lillooet, BC), Shuswap (now Secwepemc), Thompson (now Nlaka'pamux) and Okanagan First Nations. They are the four First Nations in the interior of British Columbia (although Okanagan territory extends into the state of Washington in the United States) who speak languages belonging to the Interior Salish division of the Salishan language family. In the 2016 Census (Canada), 5620 peoples identified themselves as Salish speakers, including 1290 that speak Shuswap (Secwepemctsin). (Also, see Indigenous Languages in Canada).
Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case
On 9 February 2018, Gerald Stanley, a white farmer from rural Saskatchewan, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of a 22-year-old Cree man, Colten Boushie. The acquittal caused great controversy but was not appealed by prosecutors. However, it led the Justin Trudeau government to abolish the peremptory challenges that allowed Stanley to keep five Indigenous people off the all-white jury that acquitted him.
The Marshall case is a landmark ruling in Indigenous treaty rights in Canada. The case centres on Donald Marshall Jr., a Mi’kmaq man from Membertou, Nova Scotia. In August 1993, Marshall caught and sold 210 kg of eel with an illegal net and without a licence during closed-season times. He was arrested after being charged under the federal Fisheries Act and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations. In Marshall’s court case, R. v. Marshall, he was found guilty on all three charges in provincial court (1996) and appeals court (1997). The Supreme Court of Canada reversed Marshall’s convictions in September 1999. The Supreme Court recognized the hunting and fishing rights promised in the Peace and Friendship Treaties. These treaties were signed between the British and the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati in 1760–61.
In 1985, Parliament responded to the appeals of Indigenous peoples by changing discriminatory sections of the Indian Act. Known as Bill C-31, this amendment reinstated Indian Status to women who had lost it through marriage to men without status. Among other changes, the bill also enabled all first-generation children of these marriages and individuals who had been enfranchised to regain their legal status. More than 114,000 people gained or regained their Indian status as a result of Bill C-31. (See also Women and the Indian Act.)
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.)
Band (Indigenous Peoples in Canada)
Band is a term the Canadian government uses to refer to certain First Nations communities. Bands function as municipalities. They are managed by elected band councils according to the laws of the Indian Act. Today, some bands prefer to call themselves First Nations. As of 2020, the Government of Canada recognized 619 First Nations in Canada.
Red River Cart
The Red River cart was a mode of transportation used by Métis people in the Prairies during the settlement of the West in the mid- to late-1800s to carry loads across distances. The name of the cart derives from the Red River, along which the Red River Colony (1812–70), inhabited mainly by Métis peoples, was settled. The Métis had their own Michif words for the cart, including aen wagon and aen charet.
Cuthbert Grant, fur trader, Métis leader (born circa 1793 in Fort de la Rivière Tremblante, SK; died 15 July 1854 in White Horse Plains, MB). Grant led the Métis to victory at Seven Oaks in 1816 and founded the Métis community Grantown (later St. François Xavier), Manitoba, in 1824. Today, Cuthbert Grant is hailed as a founder of the Métis nation. (See also Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
Historically, plank houses were structures built by various Indigenous peoples on the Northwest Coast of Canada, such as the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nuxalk, Haida, Tsimshian, Gitxsan and Nisga'a. Plank houses varied in size and design, depending on the community. Plank houses still exist in some communities and are used mainly for community and ceremonial purposes. (See also Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
A pit house is a type of dwelling historically used by various Indigenous peoples living in the Plateau region of Canada. Partially built into the ground, pit houses provided warmth and shelter during the winter season. While pit houses no longer serve as common dwellings, they retain cultural significance for many Indigenous peoples. Archeological remains and replicas of pit houses can be found in various parts of Canada. (See also Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
Thule Winter House
The Thule were an Indigenous people who began to occupy the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland, around 1000 CE. In the winter, the Thule used a house built partially into the ground to keep them warm for long periods of time. One striking feature of this structure was the roof, which was sometimes made of whalebone. (See also Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)