2023 National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada Map

Welcome to CartoVista’s StoryMap on National Indigenous Day in Canada 2023! The month of June serves to bring attention towards the history and acknowledgement of the indigenous community in Canada. 

This Story Map will visually highlight indigenous demographics and take a deep dive into the relationships between indigenous peoples and Canada with the help of recent census data and historical data.

Indigenous Populations in Canada

Canada has a diverse and vibrant Aboriginal population, which includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Population Size: According to the 2021 Canadian Census, there were approximately 1.8 million people in Canada who identified as Aboriginal, representing about 5.0% of the total Canadian population.

First Nations: First Nations peoples are the largest Aboriginal group in Canada. In 2021, there were over 977,000 First Nations individuals, accounting for 58% of the total Aboriginal population.

Inuit: The Inuit are another significant Aboriginal group primarily residing in the northern regions of Canada. In 2021, there were approximately 65,000 Inuit individuals, representing about 4% of the Aboriginal population.

Métis: Métis people have mixed European and Indigenous heritage. In 2021, the Métis population was over 587,000, making up around 35% of the total Aboriginal population.

Population Growth: The Aboriginal population in Canada has been growing at a faster rate compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Between 2006 and 2021, the Aboriginal population grew by about 42.5%, whereas the non-Aboriginal population grew by 14%.

Youth Population: The Aboriginal population has a younger age structure compared to the non-Aboriginal population. In 2021, around 28% of the Aboriginal population was under the age of 15, compared to 16% for the non-Aboriginal population.

Urbanization: While many Aboriginal people still live in rural and remote areas, there has been a significant increase in the urban Aboriginal population. In 2021, about 56% of Aboriginal people resided in urban areas, compared to 49% in 2006.

Socioeconomic Indicators: Historically, Aboriginal peoples have faced socioeconomic challenges, including higher poverty rates, lower educational attainment, and lower incomes compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Efforts have been made to address these disparities, but progress varies across different regions and communities.

Aboriginal Councils and Land 

The Aboriginal Council of Tribes in Canada is a collective platform representing various Indigenous communities. It fosters collaboration, advocacy, and decision-making on shared interests such as governance, land rights, cultural preservation, and economic development. 

What do Aboriginal Councils do? 

The Council brings together  members of their tribe and focuses on addressing issues within their community. They aim to retain the aspirations and fulfill the needs of their people in addition to dealing with local government affairs. 

Indigenous Lands of Canada

Indigenous peoples have ancestral territories and traditional lands in various provinces and territories. These lands include areas in the northern regions, such as Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon, where Inuit and other Indigenous communities reside. In British Columbia, there are numerous First Nations communities with ancestral lands on the west coast and throughout the province. Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the territories all have Indigenous lands and communities as well. Each region has its unique cultural heritage, governance structures, and relationships with the land. It is important to recognize and respect the specific rights, titles, and treaties associated with Indigenous lands across the entire country.

Difference between First Nations and Inuit Communities

Inuit and First Nations are two aboriginal groups in Canada with different cultural and historical backgrounds. 

 First Nations 

First Nations is a collective term used to refer to the diverse Indigenous peoples who are not Inuit or Métis. There are over 600 recognized First Nations in Canada, each with its own distinct language, culture, and traditions. First Nations peoples have inhabited various regions of Canada for thousands of years and have unique historical relationships with the land.


Inuit are Indigenous peoples who primarily reside in the Arctic regions of Canada, including Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Labrador. They have a distinct culture and language known as Inuktitut. Traditionally, Inuit societies were organized around hunting, fishing, and gathering in a harsh Arctic environment. Inuit communities have a unique history and relationship with the land, including the signing of land claims agreements and the establishment of the territory of Nunavut in 1999.

Treaties between Indigenous Peoples and Canada

Historically, treaties have been signed between Indigenous Peoples and Canada to facilitate a peaceful coexistence within the country. Many treaties have been signed since the early 1700s, but they have been subject to criticism due to the injustices induced towards the indigenous peoples from Canadian authorities. 

Summary of the 5 Major Historical Treaties from 1701 to 1923

Treaty 1 (1871): Signed between the Anishinaabe and Swampy Cree Nations and the Canadian government, it ceded Indigenous lands in present-day southern Manitoba in exchange for reserves, annuities, and rights to hunt and fish.

Treaty 6 (1876): Made with Plains Cree, Woodland Cree, and other First Nations, it covers parts of present-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The treaty ensured reserve lands, education, healthcare, and annual payments to the Indigenous signatories.

Treaty 7 (1877): Signed by Blackfoot Confederacy, Stoney Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina First Nations, it covers southern Alberta. The treaty established reserves, provided annuities, and allowed for continued hunting and fishing rights.

Treaty 8 (1899): Encompassing northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, and parts of Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, it involved numerous Indigenous groups. The treaty guaranteed reserve lands, hunting and fishing rights, and other provisions.

Numbered Treaties: These are a series of treaties signed between 1871 and 1921, covering different regions across Canada. They established reserve lands, annuities, and other benefits in exchange for Indigenous peoples ceding their traditional territories.

Check out our data sources to know more about Indigenous Peoples in Canada: Statistics Canada, ESRI ArcGIS Data Hub, and Wikipedia.

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