Indigenous Nations were first referred to as Indians and then as North American Indians, thanks to Christopher Columbus who, in 1492, believed he had landed in India. A collective "Indian" term that still represents a challenge
Section (1) of the Constitution Act 1982 provides: "The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, Aboriginal Peoples of Canada "include the Indian, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada".
In 2007, our federal government, along with a majority of other states, adopted the "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". A non-legally binding Declaration considered the "most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples".
Since 1996, on June 21, we celebrate what was once the National Aboriginal Peoples Day now called the National Indigenous Peoples Day. Aboriginal is still accepted, but the term Indigenous is now internationally recognized.
On June 21, during Indigenous Day, Montrealers recognize and celebrate the heritage, the cultures and the achievements of the Canadian Indigenous nations.
The Mohawks are one of the six Iroquoian nations. Iroquois in French, Six Nations in English. The Mohawks succeeded in preserving their traditions while assuming control over their education, their health and their local services. Their strength is based on their social organization, sedentary traditions and spiritual values.
There are three Mohawk communities near Montreal, Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Kanesatake.
Akwesasne overlaps New York, Quebec and Ontario. The two Canadian provinces enabled the Mohawk community to build and organize their local education, their health and justice services, their recreation activities and their social and training and infrastructures.
In Kahnawake and for several years now, the Mohawks have been in charge of most if not all their community activities. The society has its own police force and their schools integrate in their teachings many different aspects of the Mohawk culture.
Kanesatake however is confronted with territorial problems. The lands acquired by the Federal Government for the benefits of the Mohawks have, up to the present day, never been transferred to their community. A difficult situation that once resulted in the Oka Crisis also called the Mohawk Resistance. The issue of who holds title of the land is still unresolved
The Naskapi Nation of the Kawawachikamach community are members of the Algonquian Indigenous Nation. Naskapi is the language spoken by all and written by many. English is their second language and French is spoken by most.
The Naskapis preserved many aspects of their traditional culture, values and traditions. They, for a large part, rely on hunting, fishing and trapping for their subsistence and for raw materials. Harvesting is at the center of their spirituality.
The Chief and Council of the Naskapi Nation are both responsible for managing the land and its natural resources, regulating the use of their buildings, promoting the development of their community and managing their finances.
Based on the profound knowledge of their land and their wildlife, the Naskapis develop and organize various hunting and fishing activities as well as tourist expeditions across their partly swampy coniferous forests.
The Wendats are members of the Iroquoian (or Six Nations) family known as great traders well before the European first contacts and colonization. Wendake is the only remaining Wendat community famous for its many tourist attractions and for promoting their cultural legacy.
Wendat is the name and Huron is the nickname given by the French based on the hairstyle of Huron men. The Wendat, one of the most urbanized indigenous nation, is led by a council composed of a Grand Chef and of eight Heads of Family.
Historically, the Wendats led a semi-sedentary life. They grew corn in abundance as well as tobacco and used their surplus to trade with other North American Indigenous peoples.
The Wendat Nation offers a large variety of services to the Wendat community, including schools, health facilities and a police service. The community is also home to a hotel, a museum and an event center.
Nowadays, their local SDC - Société de développement commercial offers technical expertise to their 60 or so local businesses that each provide jobs to indigenous and non indigenous peoples.
The Mohawks, the Naskapis and the Wendats, three out of ten Indigenous Peoples and Tribes, plus the Inuit who live in Inuit Nunangat, the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska.