You will notice that we have used a number of different terms to refer to First Peoples in Canada. It may be useful to spend a moment going over the proper and improper terms to refer to these communities.

- Aboriginal -

This noun is derived from the latin ab origine, meaning "from the beginning." It is a politically correct term; however, some younger First Peoples dislike the term as it sounds like a word that means the opposite of its actual meaning. Because "ab" is a prefix meaning "away" or "not" many people hear the word as meaning "NOT original to this land."

The other issue is that it homogenizes a collage of people and implies sameness where there is none. It encompasses too many diverse groups to be useful in any but the most generic ways.

- Indigenous -

This term means originating or occurring naturally in a particular place. It is a word often associated with international discussions and protocols; therefore, we can talk about any country as having an Indigenous population - the population that first inhabited the space. It has the same problem as "aboriginal," in that it is too broad and homogenizes a massive multicultural group.

- First Nations -

This term refers to all the Indigenous nations within Canada that are/were recognized at the time of colonization. It, therefore, includes Cree, Mikmaq, Iroquois, etc. However, if you are to use this term for all of the Indigenous peoples in Canada, then you must append Metis and Inuit to it, i.e., "First Nations, Metis, and Inuit."

- First Peoples -

This term recognizes that the Indigenous population in Canada was the first to inhabit the land. It also works well because it includes all the First Nations as well as Metis and Inuit.

Ideally, it is best to identify an individual by the specific nation to which they belong. For instance, to say that a number of the students at Heritage are Eastern Cree or are Algonquian. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that many nations are referred to by one name in English and another name within their own communities - for example, Iroquois or Mohawk are called Haudenosaunee in their own language. If you know the Indigenous name, please use it, but if you are unsure, the English name is still preferable to a generic title like First Peoples.

Also, please do not use the phrase "Canada's First Nations/Aboriginals/First Peoples." These communities predate and do not belong to the nation. In order to identify an Indigenous population as specifically Canadian, say instead "Indigenous peoples of Canada."

Terms you should NOT use:

- Indian -

First of all, it is a misnomer that derives from Columbus and other explorers'mistakenly identifying what is now North America as Asia (their actual destination). Second of all, the term speaks to the 1876 "Indian Act" and the now renamed Department of Indian Affairs, both politically outdated and racist institutions. You may note that some First Peoples refer to themselves as "Indians," but that is because they are re-appropriating the term. It does not make it okay for non-Indigenous peoples to use it.

- Native -

This term denotes a condition of birth, but anyone born in Canada is a native Canadian. The term, therefore, causes confusion as it doesn't specify whether a person is historically native to Canada. In other words, the term seeks to erase the distinction between First Peoples and the settler descendants currently living in Canada