Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

NO “All-Encompassing” Term

There is no single term that is ‘Fits All’ or ‘politically correct’ when describing Indigenous people — Aboriginal, native peoples, and First Nations in Canada. Across our nations, there are over 630 distinct Indigenous communities, which represent more than 50 nations and 50 Indigenous languages. Thus, it is impossible to come up with one term unanimously.

Which One to Use?

To those curious or new to Canada, our general guidelines are to avoid using the terms ‘Indian’ or ‘Amerindian’ because these terms have colonial connotations for the Indigenous people in Canada. Although most Canadians have avoided using these sensitive terms, incorrect usage is still common. Because of this, misunderstandings happen, and many people do not feel confident using specific terms when referring to Indigenous peoples. To be informed, this article provides a basic guide that help people to understand and be comforable with the terminology.

According to official terminology on the Government of Canada website: “Canadian constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal peoples: Indians (more commonly referred to as First Nations), Inuit and Métis. These are three distinct peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs”. (Indigenous People and Communities)

While the term “Indian” is used on Government of Canada’s website, our government and people acknowledge the importance of terminology, as we generally replace the term ‘Indian’ with ‘First Nation.’ The terms ‘Indigenous’ is also used, for instance, using ‘Indigenous’ in the name of distinct departments such as Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Furthermore, the term ‘Aboriginal’ is widely accepted and used. While the terminology given by the government can be a good guideline for understanding the Indigenous people, I firmly believe that the best guidelines come directly from Indigenous people. It is essential to know that Indigenous communities are distinct, and to remain sensitive to the respective words, terms, and things.

“Indigenous peoples is a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. Often, ‘Aboriginal peoples’ is also used”. (Indigenous People and Communities)

Conclusion

All in all, there is no perfect term to describe Indigenous People. There is no strict consensus on when or where to use certain terms. However, I believe that it is a sign of respect to Indigenous people to understand the basic guidelines. By understanding the general guidelines, we can help ourselves avoid any confusion related to terminology and ensure an adapted approach that promotes mutually beneficial relations.

Bibliography

“Indigenous People and Communities. ” Government of Canada. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, 2021, https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1100100013785/1529102490303. Accessed 21 July 2021.

13,051 thoughts on “73% of Canadian Indigenous Peoples prefer to be called “First Nations”, in which term they feel more respected. RESPECT is What Canadian indigenous Peoples Actually Want Today #Politics”
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