This timeline chronicles the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
June 02, 1537
Pope's Proclamation on Aboriginal People
Pope Paul III proclaimed that aboriginal people are truly human and so should not be enslaved, and that they should receive the Roman Catholic faith.
June 28, 1609
Champlain Explores Iroquois Country
Samuel de Champlain explored Iroquois country, entering the Rivière des Iroquois (Richelieu), paddling upriver and reaching a great lake that would later bear his name.
July 30, 1609
Champlain Battles the Iroquois
Champlain and his First Nations allies battled the Iroquois on Lake Champlain, beginning 150 years of war between Iroquois and French. Champlains musket kills three and astonishes the enemy.
October 11, 1615
Champlain's Third Battle with the Iroquois
1615 October 11 Champlain and his allies arrived at an Iroquois fort on Lake Onanadaga, just north of present-day Syracuse. The Iroquois routed the invaders, wounding Champlain with 2 arrows.
October 11, 1615
Samuel de Champlain was wounded twice in the leg by arrows when he and his Huron allies stumbled upon an Iroqouis fort.
March 16, 1649
Jesuit missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Charles Lalemant were executed by the Iroquois.
April 17, 1649
Weakened by disease and cultural interference by the French, the Huron Nation was finally destroyed by the Iroquois. On Easter Day 1649 the last Huron band left Gahoendoe for the mainland and were either killed or assimilated into Iroquois tribes.
May 02, 1660
Dollard and the Iroquois
Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, with 16 Frenchmen and 44 Hurons and Algonquins, held an Iroquois war party at bay for days before capitulating; all the French defenders were killed.
January 01, 1677
Silver Covenant Chain Treaty
This wampum treaty between Britain and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people represented an open and honest communication between two peoples. Subsequent wampum treaties reinforce this idea, as well as the idea of mutual interest and peace. Such wampum treaties oblige the parties to help each other, in war if necessary, should they be asked.
August 05, 1689
Lachine was attacked by 1500 Iroquois in the fiercest assault in the history of the colony; 24 French colonists were killed, and 42 of 90 prisoners never returned.
January 22, 1690
Iroquois Peace Treaty
The Iroquois concluded a peace treaty with the English and the tribes of the Great Lakes.
August 01, 1701
Great Peace of Montreal
The Great Peace of Montreal was signed between 39 First Nation tribes and the French colonial government.
September 05, 1760
A treaty was concluded between the Huron and the British. The Huron agreed to put down their arms. In return they would receive safe passage, free exercise of religion, local government and justice. The treaty was recognized in 1990 by the Supreme Court.
September 15, 1760
Treaty of Oswegatchie
The terms of the Treaty of Oswegatchie, confirmed at Kahnawake, were for the Iroquois to remain neutral. In return they would not be deprived of their lands or treated as enemies by the British.
May 09, 1763
An ally of the French, Ottawa chief Obwandiyag, whom the English called Pontiac, began a series of raids against English forts. Their attempt to drive the English away from the area killed both soldiers and settlers.
July 24, 1766
Ottawa chief Pontiac signed a treaty with the British ending the uprising he initiated three years earlier. The treaty helped to establish aboriginal rights for the future.
April 20, 1769
Pontiac was murdered at the site of present-day St Louis, Missouri.
September 07, 1783
Brant Tries to Forge Alliance
Joseph Brant spoke to a Native council at Lower Sandusky, Ohio, attended by Shawnees, Cherokees and others to unite them with the Six Nations and to encourage them to speak with "the United Voice of us all."
November 07, 1811
The Battle of Tippecanoe
William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, attacked Tecumseh's Western Confederacy at the Shawnee village of Prophetstown, Indiana. Angered, Tecumseh entered an alliance with Britain as a means to counter American expansion into their lands.
December 24, 1814
Treaty of Ghent
Peace talks between Great Britain and the United States took place in Belgium in August and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve. The British insisted the treaty be ratified by both governments before it took effect because the Americans refused to ratify three previous treaties.
June 06, 1829
Last Beothuk Dies
Shawnadithit was captured by English furriers in 1823, and her drawings and descriptions of the Beothuk are valuable records of her people. Like so many Beothuk, she died of tuberculosis.
January 01, 1831
The Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Upper Canada, became Canada’s first residential school. At first, the school only admitted boys. Girls were admitted in 1834.
June 24, 1837
Smallpox Hits Prairies
An American Fur Company boat arrived at Fort Union, setting off a smallpox epidemic across the praries, killing an estimated three-quarters of the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee and Assiniboine peoples of the prairies.
February 06, 1840
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi, which enabled Great Britain to annex New Zealand, was signed by a group of Maori chiefs and Captain William Hobson.
January 01, 1844
The Bagot Commission proposed that separating Indigenous children from their parents was the best way to achieve assimilation. The commission also recommended that the Mohawk Institute be considered a model for other industrial schools.
February 07, 1850
Mica Bay Inquiry
The inquiry into the attack at Mica Bay, QC began with the testimony of agent John Bonner of the Quebec Mining Company. The Mica Bay Incident occurred in November 1849 when Indians and Métis, led by white businessman Allan Macdonell, attacked the companys mining installations in a dispute over mining rights in the area.
January 01, 1857
The Gradual Civilization Act
The Gradual Civilization Act required male Status Indians and Métis over the age of 21 to read, write and speak either English or French, and to choose a government-approved surname. The Act awarded 50 acres of land to any “sufficiently advanced” Indigenous male, and in return removed any tribal affiliation or treaty rights.
April 30, 1864
Chilcotin Indians in BC killed several road workers building a road through their territory. Five Chilcotin were executed for the incident.
January 01, 1867
Under the Constitution Act (British North America Act), Indians and land reserved for Indians were made a federal responsibility, as was education.
August 03, 1871
Treaty No. 1
The first post-Confederation treaty was signed at Lower Fort Garry, Man. The first of many “Numbered Treaties,” Treaty No. 1 was signed between the Crown and the Ojibwa and Swampy Cree Nations. The treaty included the provision of livestock, agricultural equipment and the establishment of schools in exchange for ceding large tracts of Aboriginal hunting grounds.
August 21, 1871
Treaty No. 2
Treaty Number 2 was concluded with Chippewa of Manitoba, who ceded land from the mouth of Winnipeg River to the northern shores of Lake Manitoba across the Assiniboine River to the United States frontier.
June 01, 1873
Cypress Hills Massacre
A gang of wolf hunters looking for a stolen horse killed 20 Assiniboine camped in the Cypress Hills. Some of the attackers were tried but none convicted. The event sped up the arrival of police.
October 03, 1873
Treaty No. 3
Treaty No. 3 was signed by the Saulteaux (Chippewa) of northwestern Ontario and of Manitoba. For the surrender of a tract comprising about 55,000 sq. miles, the Dominion Government reserved not more than one square mile for each family of five and agreed to pay $12 per head and an annuity of $5 per head.
September 15, 1874
Treaty No. 4
Treaty No. 4 was signed at Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask, with Cree, Saulteaux (Chippewa) and other First Nations.
September 20, 1875
Treaty No. 5
Treaty No. 5 was concluded at Lake Winnipeg ceding an area of approximately 100,000 sq. miles inhabited by Chippewa and Swampy Cree (Maskegon) of Manitoba and Ontario.
August 23, 1876
Treaty No. 6
Treaty No. 6 was signed at Carlton and at Fort Pitt with the Plains Cree, Woodland Cree and Assiniboine. It ceded an area of 120,000 sq. miles of the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
September 16, 1877
Plains Natives Negotiations
Canadian government officials met with Crowfoot and his fellow chiefs to discuss the future of the Plains Natives. After some disagreements among the Native groups, Red Crow said he would sign a treaty if Crowfoot would. Crowfoot agreed.
September 22, 1877
Treaty No. 7
Treaty No. 7 was signed at Blackfoot Crossing in southern Alberta by the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarsi and Stoney. Canadian officials understood that by the treaty First Nations surrendered some 35,000 sq miles of land to the Crown in return for reserves, payments and annuities.
January 01, 1883
Residential Schools Authorized
Sir John A. Macdonald authorized the creation of residential schools in the West based on the recommendations of the 1879 Davin Report.
January 01, 1884
Creation of Residential Schools
Amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 provided for the creation of Indian residential schools, funded and operated by the Government of Canada and Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and United churches. The Canadian government also banned traditional Indigenous ceremonies.
April 19, 1884
Potlatch Ceremony Outlawed
The federal government outlawed the potlatch ceremony of BC's Aboriginal peoples, bowing to pressure from missionaries.
September 15, 1884
Canada's Nile Voyageurs
The Nile Voyageurs, Canada's first official participants in an overseas war, set sail for Egypt, comprising a force of 386 lumbermen, Caughnawaga Indians and Ottawa boatmen under the command of F.C. Denison.
April 02, 1885
Frog Lake Incident
Wandering Spirit and other Cree in Chief Big Bear's band killed nine white men at Frog Lake, Sask, during the North-West Resistance.
July 02, 1885
Big Bear Surrenders
Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa) surrendered at Fort Carlton. Though always counselling peace, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
April 25, 1890
Death of Crowfoot
The great Cree chief Crowfoot died at Blackfoot Crossing. He was a perceptive, farseeing and diplomatic leader who became disillusioned with the Canadian government.
December 15, 1890
Death of Sitting Bull
Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux warrior and chief Tatanka Iyotake, also known as Sitting Bull, died at Standing Rock, South Dakota. Sitting Bull was a leader in indigenous resistance against American westward expansion. He and his people sought refuge in Canada, but left when the Canadian government refused to establish a reserve for them. Sitting Bull was killed during a gunfight with American authorities trying to execute a warrant for his arrest.
December 29, 1890
Massacre at Wounded Knee
At Wounded Knee, South Dakota, American troops massacred some 200 men, women and children of the Sioux in the last major armed confrontation between Native American Indians and US troops.
January 01, 1896
Forty-five residential schools were in operation across Canada. Each school was provided with an allowance per student, which led to overcrowding and an increase in diseases within the institutions.
June 21, 1899
Treaty No. 8
Cree, Beaver, Chipewyan and Slavey First Nations ceded territory south and west of Great Slave Lake in northern Alberta to the federal government in Treaty No. 8.
July 24, 1899
Birth of Dan George
Actor Dan George, or Teswahno, was born on Burrard IR No 3.
July 03, 1906
Chief Capilano Meets King Edward VII
Chief Joe Capilano of the Squamish Nation went to London to meet King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The chief, accompanied by other Native representatives, presented a petition to the king concerning Aboriginal land rights.
January 01, 1907
Health at Residential Schools
After visiting 35 residential schools, Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, chief medical officer for Canada’s Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs (1904–21), revealed that Indigenous children were dying at alarming rates. Bryce suggested the mortality rate could be as high as 42 per cent.
February 04, 1916
Birth of Pudlo Pudlat
Pudlo Pudlat, Inuk graphic artist whose work displays the paradoxes of the encounter between two cultures, was born at Kamadjuak Camp, Baffin Island, NWT.
January 01, 1920
Residential Schools Become Mandatory
Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, made attendance at residential school mandatory for every Indian child between 7 and 16 years of age.
February 26, 1920
Indian Act Amendment Allows for Forced Enfranchisement of Status Indians
The Indian Act was amended to allow for the forced enfranchisement of First Nations whom the government thought should be removed from band lists. Enfranchisement was the most common of the legal processes by which First Nations peoples lost their Indian Status under the Indian Act.
June 27, 1921
Indigenous People Cede Mackenzie
Slave, Dogrib, Hare, Loucheux and other bands ceded the Mackenzie River region of the Northwest Territories to the federal government.
January 01, 1922
The Story of a National Crime Published
Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce published The Story of a National Crime, exposing the government’s suppression of information on the health of Indigenous peoples. Bryce argued that Duncan Campbell Scott and the ministry of Indian Affairs neglected Indigenous health needs, and noted a “criminal disregard for the treaty pledges.”
October 03, 1927
Birth of Kenojuak Ashevak
Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who is perhaps the best-known Inuk artist because of her famous print The Enchanted Owl, was born at Ikirasaq camp, South Baffin Island, NWT.
January 02, 1929
Birth of Allen Sapp
Cree artist Allen Sapp, one of Canada's foremost Aboriginal painters, was born at Red Pheasant Reserve, Saskatchewan.
July 13, 1929
Birth of Basil Johnston
Anishinaabe author, storyteller and educator Basil Johnston was born on the Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario. A survivor of the residential school system, Johnston published his first book in his 40s and went on to publish over 20 more — many of them devoted to the history, stories and language of the Anishinaabe people. Five of his books were written in the Anishinaabemowin language. Johnston, who was a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, had a profound impact on a younger generation of First Nations writers, including Tomson Highway, Drew Hayden Taylor and Joseph Boyden.
January 01, 1930
Canadian Residential Schools
During the 1930s, the Indian residential school system had a network of 80 to 90 schools with an enrolment of over 17,000.
April 27, 1948
Birth of Michael Kusugak
Michael Kusugak, Inuit children's writer, was born at Repulse Bay, NWT.
May 05, 1949
Birth of George Arluk
George Arluk, Inuit artist and sculptor, was born in the Keewatin region, NWT. Arluk grouped figures together to form abstracted compositions of gently curving forms that undulate rhythmically.
January 01, 1955
Residential School System Expands
The federal government expanded the system of residential schools and hostels to Inuit in the far north.
August 17, 1956
Forced Relocation of the Sayisi Dene
Concerned that the Sayisi Dene were overhunting caribou around Little Duck Lake in northern Manitoba, the Province successfully petitioned the federal government to relocate the Dene community to the outskirts of Churchill. Despite government promises, the 250 displaced people were left destitute, lacking food, shelter and livelihoods on the tundra, far from their hunting grounds. By 1973, 117 members of the community had died, and survivors were left traumatized by years of extreme hardship. In August 2016, on the 60th anniversary of the forced relocation, Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett issued a formal apology to survivors on behalf of the federal government.
July 19, 1958
Royal Totem Presented to Queen Mother
Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Mungo Martin (Naka'pankam) presented the Royal Totem to Her Majesty the Queen Mother in London, who accepted on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the centennial of the creation of the colony of British Columbia.
January 01, 1960
The Sixties Scoop
As residential schools closed, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families by provincial and federal social workers and placed in foster or adoption homes. Often, these homes were non-Indigenous. Some children were even placed outside of Canada.
July 01, 1960
Right to Vote for Status Indians
Canadian Status Indians obtained the right to vote in federal elections.
January 14, 1961
Guerin First Woman Chief
Gertrude Guerin became the first woman elected chief of the Musqueam Indian Band, who reside on the north shore of BCs Fraser River.
November 17, 1966
Coroner’s Inquest Into Charlie Wenjack’s Death
A coroner’s inquest into Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack’s death was held. The jury report recognized that “The Indian education system causes tremendous emotional & adjustment problems for these children.” They recommended, “A study be made of the present Indian education & philosophy. Is it right?”
January 27, 1967
Birth of Susan Aglukark
Inuit singer Susan Aglukark was born at Churchill, Man.
January 01, 1968
Political Organization and Activism
Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society Founded
The Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society (VANWS) was founded by Indigenous activists, including Métis war veteran Bertha Clark Jones, to advocate on behalf of Status and Non-Status women in the years before Bill C-31 made it possible for those who had lost their status in marriage to regain it. VANWS would evolve into the Native Women's Association of Canada, which has been active since 1974.
January 01, 1969
Department of Indian Affairs Responsible for Residential Schools
The agreement between the churches and the Canadian government comes to an end, with the Department of Indian Affairs assuming responsibility for the remaining schools. The transfer of a few schools to local bands begins.
February 14, 1973
Yukon Land Claims
The federal government established a committee to negotiate land claims in the Yukon.
March 18, 1973
First Reserve in NWT
The first First Nations reserve in the Northwest Territories was created at Hay River.
September 07, 1973
NWT Court Allows Land Claim
The Northwest Territories Supreme Court allowed the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT to file a land claim for one-third of the NWT.
January 01, 1974
Political Organization and Activism
Native Women's Association of Canada Founded
The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) was founded by Indigenous women and their allies, including non-Indigenous feminists active in the women’s movement. Members concerned themselves with the preservation and continuation of Indigenous culture on a local level, while focusing nationally on addressing the inequity in status conditions for women under the Indian Act. NWAC's first president was Métis war veteran and activist Bertha Clark Jones.
July 02, 1974
Ralph Steinhauer Appointed Lieutenant-Governor
Ralph Steinhauer was appointed lieutenant-governor of Alberta, the first Native to hold vice-regal office in Canada.
April 05, 1977
First Inuit to Enter Parliament
Willie Adams was appointed to the Senate for the Northwest Territories, the first Inuit person to hold a seat in Parliament.
August 14, 1978
The Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories became the Dene Nation during the 8th Dene National Assembly held in Fort Norman, NT.
January 01, 1979
Twelve residential schools were still operating in Canada, with 1,200 children attending. The Department of Indian Affairs evaluated the schools and created a series of initiatives. Among them was a plan to make the school administration more culturally aware of the needs of Indigenous students.
September 23, 1981
Death of Dan George
Tes-wah-no, known as Chief Dan George, died at North Vancouver. He worked as a longshoreman before he began his stage and film acting career.
May 28, 1983
Death of Pitseolak Ashoona
Pitseolak Ashoona, Inuk graphic artist known for her lively prints showing "the things we did long ago," died at Cape Dorset, NWT (now Nunavut).
July 11, 1990
A standoff began at Oka, Québec, when police attempted to storm a barricade erected by the Mohawk to block the expansion of a golf course onto land claimed by the Mohawk. The protesters surrendered to soldiers on September 26, after a 2-month-long siege.
August 17, 1990
Canadian Forces Called in at Oka
Québec premier Robert Bourassa asked that the Canadian Forces replace the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to resolve the Oka Crisis, a standoff by the Mohawk of the Kanesatake Reserve who had set up a blockade to protest the expansion of a golf course across land they claimed. Corporal Marcel Lemay, of the SQ, was killed on July 11 when the SQ stormed the blockade. The standoff ended peaceably 78 days after it began.
October 30, 1990
Phil Fontaine’s Testimony of Abuse at Residential Schools
Head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Phil Fontaine, spoke publicly of the abuse he suffered at residential school. He gave a number of media interviews, outlining the abuse and calling for a public inquiry.
March 08, 1991
Gitksan Court Case
In Delgamuukw et al v The Queen, the BC Supreme Court ruled that, according to treaties, the Gitksan do not have Aboriginal title to the land, but they do have the right to use it for subsistence.
June 27, 1991
Spicer Commission Report
The Spicer Commission recommended that the government foster a sense of country, that Québec be recognized as a unique province, that there be a prompt settlement of Indigenous land claims and that the Senate be reformed or abolished.
August 26, 1991
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney initiates the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, with seven commissioners. The report is completed in 1996.
August 16, 1992
Gros-Louis Elected Grand Chief
The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake (located near Québec City) elected Jocelyne Gros-Louis as Grand Chief. She was the first woman to be named as the leader of a First Nation in Canada.
November 12, 1992
Inuit Endorse Nunavut
The Inuit endorsed the creation of Nunavut, a semi-autonomous territory, in a referendum.
June 06, 1995
Douglas Lake Ranch Blockade
Members of the Upper Nicola First Nations Band agreed to end a 2-week blockade of the Douglas Lake Ranch in exchange for talks with the BC government over fishing rights.
September 17, 1995
Gustafsen Lake Standoff Ends
A tense standoff between RCMP and armed Ts'peten Defenders at Gustafsen Lake, BC, ended. Aboriginal occupiers believed that the privately-owned ranch land on which they made their stand was a sacred place and part of a larger tract of unceded Shuswap territory.
October 24, 1995
James Bay Cree Referendum
The James Bay Cree held a referendum to decide if their territory should remain a part of Canada should Québec vote to separate in its own forthcoming referendum. With a voter turnout of 77 per cent, 96.3 per cent voted in favour of staying with Canada. The vote was a political statement to the Government of Québec, asserting sovereignty over traditional Cree lands that had been appropriated without consent in 1898 and 1912, and formalizing opposition to Québec separatism.
January 01, 1996
Last Residential School Closes
The last federally-run facility, Gordon Residential School, closed in Punnichy, Saskatchewan.
February 15, 1996
Nisga'a Land Claim Agreement
Federal and provincial officials signed an agreement of land claims with the Nishga'a in northwestern British Columbia. The Final Agreement calls for cash payments to the Nisga'a of approximately $190 million over a period of years, and recognizes the communal ownership and self-governance of about 2,000 km2 of Nisga’a lands in the Nass River Valley.
February 23, 1996
Bridging the Cultural Gap
The preliminary report of the royal commission into Native affairs recommended that First Nations should be able to set up their own justice systems, appropriate to their own cultures.
November 21, 1996
Aboriginal Report Released
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal People released its report, recommending the establishment of 60-80 new nations with self-government at a cost of $30 billion.
November 21, 1996
Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
The Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a public inquiry into the effects residential schools have had on subsequent generations. The 4,000-page document made 440 recommendations calling for changes in the relationship between Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous peoples, and governments in Canada.
February 10, 1997
Revised Dating of Americas
A team of scientists announced that the dating of early human remains in Chile showed that human ancestors lived in the Americas 1300 years prior to previous estimates.
July 31, 1997
New Head of Assembly
Phil Fontaine was elected the new head of the Assembly of First Nations, defeating incumbent Ovide Mercredi.
April 23, 1999
Court Rules on Aboriginal Sentencing
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the lower courts should apply traditional disciplinary practices when sentencing Indigenous persons found guilty of criminal offences.
May 20, 1999
Off-Reserve Voting Rights
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously to open aboriginal band elections to off-reserve band members, stating that excluding them violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
September 17, 1999
Mi'kmaq Fishing Rights Upheld
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that treaties from the 1760s guaranteed Mi'kmaq rights to fish, hunt and log year round. The ruling sparked controversy, as the Mi'kmaq began to fish lobster out of season. Angry non-Indigenous fishermen destroyed lobster traps and other equipment, sunk a boat and carried out an armed blockade of Yarmouth Harbour, NS. The conflict ended when an agreement was reached that allowed the Mi’kmaq to fish for subsistence only.
October 15, 1999
A US scientific panel concluded that the bones of a skeleton found in Washington State bore more resemblance to Polynesians than to American Indians, challenging the view that the first humans came to North America from Siberia.
November 17, 1999
Mi'kmaq Rights Clarified
The Supreme Court of Canada clarified its earlier ruling (September 17) regarding Mi'kmaq (Micmac) fishing rights, stating that the ruling had been misinterpreted. It stated that the ruling applied did not guarantee open season on fishing.
December 13, 1999
Nisga'a Treaty Approved
The House of Commons voted 217-48 in favour of a bill that would give the Nisga'a of northwest BC the right to self-government. The band received 2000 sq km of land and $253 million. In return they agreed to pay taxes and relinquish future claims.
April 13, 2000
The Nisga'a Treaty was given royal assent by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.
May 11, 2000
Nisga'a Final Agreement
The Nisga'a Final Agreement, recognizing Nisga'a lands and self-government, went into effect.
July 12, 2000
New First Nations Leader
The Assembly of First Nations elected Matthew Coon Come as its new leader. The former grand chief of the Cree of northern Québec defeated incumbent Phil Fontaine.
March 10, 2001
Nuu-chah-nulth Agree to Treaty
The Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council, the largest Native group in BC, agreed to a treaty with the provincial and federal governments, giving it more autonomy over its territories on Vancouver and Meares islands and a large one-time payment.
October 04, 2003
Mohawks Reject Casino
For the second time in 10 years, the Mohawks of Kahnawake rejected by referendum the proposal to build a casino on the reserve.
January 01, 2007
Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provided compensation to survivors of residential schools. All survivors received the Common Experience Payment, based on the number of years they attended residential school. Claims of sexual and physical abuse were assessed on a case-by-case basis.
June 01, 2008
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
The Canadian government authorized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to document the truth and inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools.
June 11, 2008
Apology to Former Residential Schools Students
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families, and communities for Canada's role in the operation of residential schools. The apology recognized the profoundly damaging and lasting impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language. Some criticized the speech saying that it specifically excluded from the apology the students of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
April 03, 2009
The Tsawwassen First Nation treaty in BC legally took effect, providing Aboriginal members of the Lower Mainland region financial support to help increase the economic vitality of the area. It is was the first urban treaty ever negotiated in BC.
June 16, 2010
First National Truth and Reconciliation Event
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hosted its first national event, in Winnipeg, MB. It explored the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families and the impact such institutions had on Aboriginal communities. Six more events followed in cities around the country, with a national closing ceremony in Ottawa.
January 08, 2013
Kenojuak Ashevak Dies
Kenojuak Ashevak, a Nunavummiuq artist whose work became an icon of the Canadian Arctic, died at age 85 in her home at Cape Dorset, Nunavut.
August 15, 2013
First Totem Pole Erected in Gwaii Haanas in 130 Years
The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole, carved by a team of Haida craftsmen led by Jaalen Edenshaw, was erected in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on Haida Gwaii. The totem pole was the first erected on Gwaii Haanas in 130 years. It marked the site of the 1985 standoff over a proposed clear-cut logging operation that led, eight years later, to the 1993 South Moresby Agreement. That agreement created Gwaii Haanas, an ecological and heritage partnership between the Haida Nation and Parks Canada.
January 10, 2014
First Indigenous Constitution in Ontario
Members of the Nipissing First Nation voted in favour of adopting their own constitution, or Gichi-Naaknigewin, believed to be the first such document among First Nations communities in Ontario. Its purpose is to allow the nation to define its membership and create laws. Legal experts say it is unclear, however, whether this constitution will run up against Canadian laws such as the Indian Act, which it is designed to replace.
March 27, 2014
Final National Truth and Reconciliation Event
The seventh and final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) took place over three days in Edmonton, Alberta. The TRC sought to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to share their experiences at residential schools.
May 16, 2014
National Operational Review on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women
The RCMP released the National Operational Review on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. Research identified 1,181 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canadian police databases: 164 missing (dating back to 1952) and 1,017 murdered (between 1980 and 2012).
May 26, 2014
Residential School Monument in Winnipeg
A monument to honour the survivors of residential schools was unveiled in Winnipeg, MB, near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture. Since the last residential school closed in 1996, former students have pressed for recognition and restitution, resulting in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007.
June 02, 2015
Summary Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released the summary of its final report on the residential school system and the experiences of its survivors, characterizing Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal people as "cultural genocide." The report put forward 94 recommendations aimed at repairing relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada—relations that have suffered deeply from the legacy of more than a century of assimilationist policies and human rights violations.
July 25, 2015
First Official Aboriginal Pride Event in Canada
An LGBTQ pride celebration — believed to be the first on-reserve event of its kind in Canada — was held at the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ontario. Remarks from local leaders including Chief Ava Hill honoured the community's two-spirited people.
September 08, 2015
Death of Basil Johnston
Anishinaabe author, storyteller and educator Basil Johnston died in Wiarton, Ontario, at age 86. A survivor of the residential school system, Johnston published his first book in his 40s and went on to publish over 20 more — many of them devoted to the history, stories and language of the Anishinaabe people. Five of his books were written in the Anishinaabemowin language. Johnston, who was a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, had a profound impact on a younger generation of First Nations writers, including Tomson Highway, Drew Hayden Taylor and Joseph Boyden.
October 04, 2015
REDress Project Calls for Donations
The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women, asked for the donation of red dresses, and for Canadians to hang their own. Métis artist Jaime Black initiated the project, which has displayed hundreds of red dresses in public spaces such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
November 03, 2015
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Opens
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a permanent archive of materials, documents and testimonies on residential schools gathered during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, opened at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Both the centre and the commission were created by the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
November 22, 2015
Death of Gil Cardinal
Métis filmmaker Gil Cardinal died in Edmonton, AB, at age 65. Cardinal wrote and directed documentaries, miniseries and television episodes, including acclaimed productions for the National Film Board and the CBC. He has been recognized as one of the first Indigenous filmmakers in Canada to break into the mainstream and receive international exposure.
December 15, 2015
Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, its final report on the residential school system and the experiences of its survivors, in which Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal people is characterized as "cultural genocide." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the ceremonial release of the report, committed his government to implementing all of the 94 recommendations set out in the June 2015 summary report. The recommendations are aimed at repairing relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada — relations that have suffered deeply from the legacy of more than a century of assimilationist policies and human rights violations.
February 11, 2016
Last Fluent Nuchatlaht Speaker Dies
Alban Michael, the last fluent speaker of the Nuchatlaht language, died in Campbell River, British Columbia, at age 89. Raised on Nootka Island, Michael spoke only Nuchatlaht until he was forced to learn English at a residential school in Tofino as a child. He nevertheless maintained his fluency in Nuchatlaht so that he could speak with his mother, who did not speak English.
April 14, 2016
Supreme Court Ruling Changes Legal Definition of “Indian”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the legal definition of “Indian” — as laid out in the Constitution — includes the Métis and non-status Indians. This ruling will facilitate possible negotiations over traditional land rights, access to education and health programs, and other government services.
May 10, 2016
Canada Supports UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights
Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett announced Canada’s full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Conservative government under Stephen Harper had endorsed the declaration in 2010, but with qualifications that gave Canada “objector” status at the UN with respect to the document. Bennett's announcement removed this status. The declaration recognizes a wide range of Indigenous rights, from basic human rights to land, language and self-determination rights.
May 30, 2016
Indigenous Peoples Reconciliation
Premier Wynne Issues Residential Schools Apology
In response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne formally apologized for the abuses committed against Indigenous peoples in the residential school system, as well as for the oppressive policies and practices supported by past Ontario governments. The province announced a $250-million, three-year investment in a number of initiatives aimed at reconciliation.
September 19, 2016
Death of Annie Pootoogook
The body of artist Annie Pootoogook, 47, was found in the Rideau River in Ottawa, Ontario. An internationally exhibited winner of the Sobey Art Award, Pootoogook came from a family of accomplished Inuit artists. She moved from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, to Ottawa in 2007, after achieving international recognition.
Days after her death, Ottawa police officer Chris Hrnchiar wrote remarks widely condemned as racist in the comments section of an article on Pootoogook’s death in the Ottawa Citizen. The incident resulted in an internal investigation and, ultimately, a three-month demotion for Hrnchiar, who pleaded guilty to two charges under the Police Services Act.
Ottawa police were still investigating suspicious elements of the case several months after Pootoogook’s death.
February 14, 2017
First Victory of a Sixties Scoop Lawsuit
Ontario Superior Court judge Edward Belobaba ruled in favour of Sixties Scoop victims, finding that the federal government did not take adequate steps to protect the cultural identity of on-reserve children taken away from their homes. This was the first victory of a Sixties Scoop lawsuit in Canada.
March 10, 2017
Death of Richard Wagamese
Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) novelist and journalist Richard Wagamese died in Kamloops, British Columbia, at the age of 61. A member of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Wagamese was taken from his family as a young child, during the Sixties Scoop, and only reunited with them as an adult. The experience informed his exploration of his Anishinaabe roots in his writing. He published more than a dozen works in his lifetime, in addition to penning a popular Indigenous affairs column and working in broadcasting.
March 27, 2017
Political Organization and Activism
Death of Beau Dick
Master carver, Indigenous activist and Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief Beau Dick died at the age of 61 due to complications from a stroke.
June 21, 2017
Trudeau Announces Renaming of Langevin Block
On National Aboriginal Day 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that, in the spirit of reconciliation, Parliament’s Langevin Block would be renamed Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council. Sir Hector-Louis Langevin (after whom the building was named) played an important role in Confederation but was also one of the original architects of the residential schools system, which was designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.
July 26, 2017
Supreme Court Rules on Pipeline Projects
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Indigenous peoples do not have the power to veto resource development projects such as pipelines. It stated that while the government has a duty to consult with Indigenous communities, the National Energy Board (NEB) is the “final decision maker.” The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation had appealed the NEB’s approval of a modification to Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, which runs through traditional Chippewa territory near London, Ontario.
August 28, 2017
Federal Government Pledges to Scrap Indian Act
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the division of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) into two departments, naming Jane Philpott minister of Indigenous Services and Carolyn Bennett minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Bennett was given the long-term task of ending the Indian Act and transferring certain government powers back to Indigenous peoples. The recommendation to replace INAC with two departments was originally made in the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
August 28, 2017
Dissolution of INAC and introduction of two new ministries
Implementing a recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the federal government dissolved. INAC and replaced it with two new ministries: Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Northern Affairs and Indigenous Services. The government described this restructuring as a “next step” to abolishing the Indian Act.
September 13, 2017
Montréal Changes Coat of Arms and Announces Amherst Street Renaming
Montréal mayor Denis Coderre announced the addition of a white pine to the city’s coat of arms to recognize the contributions of Indigenous people over its history. The initiative was tied to the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Coderre also announced that Amherst Street — named after British general Jeffrey Amherst — would be renamed. Amherst supported the genocide of Indigenous peoples, including the spreading of epidemics by distributing smallpox-carrying blankets.
September 20, 2017
Sayisi Dene Reclaim Part of Traditional Territory
The Manitoba government signed an agreement to revert a portion of the Sayisi Dene’s traditional territory near Little Duck Lake into reserve land for the First Nation. In 1956, the Sayisi Dene were forcibly relocated from this land to the outskirts of Churchill, where they suffered years of extreme hardship.In August 2016, on the 60th anniversary of the forced relocation, Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett issued a formal apology to survivors on behalf of the federal government.
October 05, 2017
Political Organization and Activism
Energy East Pipeline Project Cancelled
TransCanada announced that it had cancelled plans to build the Energy East pipeline, which would have carried crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Québec and New Brunswick. From there, oil would have been exported to other countries. The company cited changing market conditions and delays in assessments carried out by the National Energy Board as reasons for its decision. The project’s supporters, including premiers Rachel Notley and Brad Wall, expressed disappointment and criticized the federal government’s approach to the review process. Energy East’s opponents, including municipalities in Québec and Indigenous communities along the proposed path of the pipeline, hailed it as a victory.
October 06, 2017
Sixties Scoop Survivors Receive Settlement
The federal government announced a settlement of $800 million with Sixties Scoop survivors. The Sixties Scoop refers to the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across Canada and the United States in the 1960s. Survivors of these federal and provincial government policies experienced lasting trauma as a result of their separation from their birth families, communities and cultures.
January 01, 2018
Toronto's oldest artifact trusted to the care of the city over 80 years after its discovery
An Indigenous arrowhead, estimated to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old, has been trusted to the care of the city of Toronto by the woman who discovered it during a class trip to Fort York in 1935. Jeanne Carter discovered what is now considered the oldest artifact discovered on the present-day territory of the city of Toronto.