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National Indigenous People’s Day

Eleanor McCloskey, CND

Today, June 21, is National Indigenous People’s Day, a day to learn more about the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Indigenous peoples of Canada. Current terminology can assist our understanding and respectful dialogue.

– First Nations is a term that came into common use in the 70’s as an alternative to the outdated term Indian. It refers to people who have official status under the Indian Act of Canada, as well as persons without status who identify as belonging to a First Nation. First Nations have specific names we can learn to use.

– Inuit means people in the Inuktitut language and is used to refer to Indigenous people who live in the Arctic regions of Canada. The term Eskimo is no longer used and may be considered as offensive.

– Metis refers to people of mixed ancestry who have developed their own traditions, cultures and languages distinct from those of their Indigenous and European ancestors. The term should be used only to refer to people who self-identify as Metis.

It helps to move away from using old terms, like Indian or native as these words evoke Canada’s colonial past. Indigenous peoples now have the opportunity to choose the terms used to identify them.

 

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