First Nations First Nation

First Nations
A First Nation is a Native group in which the members share a common culture and
history, and wish to be treated as a distinct group on this basis. For legal purposes, the
federal government has divided Native peoples into three groups:
1. Indian
2. Inuit
3. Métis
Throughout Canadian History, Native peoples have signed treaties with European
countries that were based on peace and friendship. However, this peaceful way of
dealing with each other changed when more and more Europeans arrived. It was not
long after that the British government wanted to obtain control of the land used by the
Native groups. In return for the land, the Native people were offered payment and
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was created to ensure fairness to the Native
groups when signing treaties. The following principles were to be followed:
 Land ownership right of the First Nations must be respected.
 If a group of First Nations did choose to give up their land, then they shall
receive fair payment for it. (however, this was often not the case)
 This should have been a useful beginning because the intention of the
proclamation was to respect the rights of the Native population.
Negotiations should have occurred in a spirit of mutual respect between
The Indian Act of 1876 was an act of Canadian government that constituted that
the government would be the ones signing the treaties with Native groups. The
goal was the same, however, so that the Native groups would give up their claim
to the lands they occupied, forever. They were also persuaded to move to
 Native groups were to receive cash, yearly payments to reserve members
and goods.
 There was also a promise made of continuing fishing and hunting rights.
**Throughout this treaty signing process, Native people have given up almost half of
Canada’s land area and unfortunately, many of the treaties have proved to be unfair.
The treaties have failed the Native people for 2 important reasons;
1. enormous loss of land where the Native peoples maintained their traditional way
of life
2. the Native people were given no right to govern themselves.
The traditional lifestyle of the First Nations was affected by:
1. Increased Population: The First Nation’s lifestyle of hunting, fishing and
agriculture, which required a great deal of land, was affected by the loss of land
due to an increase in the population. The newcomers used and changed the
land so much that traditional methods could not be used to provide enough food
for the indigenous population.
2. Moving to Reserves: Many of the reserves that the First Nations moved to
lacked fertile land, minerals, trees, fish and wild animals. This made it difficult
for the First Nations to make their living from the land. This, in turn, has created
many social and health problems as many Native people were forced to accept
welfare, or relocate to cities in search of employment.
3. The Use of Residential Schools: Aboriginal children were sent to live and learn
in special schools in the larger towns. They were taught the language and
culture of mainstream Canadian society. The children were not allowed to speak
their own languages or practice their own cultural traditions.
4. Fishing and Hunting Laws: Provincial and federal governments have made laws
to protect the populations of wildlife. This affects the Native populations’
traditional way of life.
5. Resource and Development Projects: The economic base of the Native peoples
has been damaged due to these large resource development projects (Bennett
Dam in BC.) that they were never consulted with. The effects of these projects
on the environment in which the Native peoples live have restricted their
abilities to trap, hunt, or otherwise live a traditional lifestyle.