Aboriginal Peoples is the collective name for the original inhabitants of North America and their descendants. According to the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
First Nations are the largest Aboriginal group in Canada, comprising more than 600,000 people. The term First Nations represents the first peoples of Canada, and their descendants, who are neither Inuit, nor Métis.
As of the 2006 census, Aboriginal peoples in Canada totalled 1,172,790 people, or 3.8% of the national population, spread over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands with distinctive cultures, languages, art, and music.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of all backgrounds have become prominent figures and have served as role models in the Aboriginal community and help to shape the Canadian cultural identity.
Aboriginal communities are located in urban, rural and remote locations across Canada. They include First Nations or Indian Bands, generally located on lands called reserves, Inuit communities located in Nunavut, NWT, Northern Quebec (Nunavik) and Labrador, Métis communities and communities of Aboriginal people (including Métis, Non-Status Indians, Inuit and First Nation individuals) in cities or towns which are not part of reserves or traditional territories (for example, the Aboriginal community in Winnipeg).
The characteristics of Canadian Aboriginal civilizations included permanent settlements, agriculture, civic and ceremonial architecture, complex societal hierarchies and trading networks. The Métis culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17th century when First Nation and native Inuit married European settlers.
The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during that early period. Various laws, treaties, and legislation have been enacted between European immigrants and First Nations across Canada. Aboriginal Right to Self-Government provides opportunity to manage historical, cultural, political, health care and economic control aspects within first people's communities.
In Nunavut, Canada, all three languages, Inuktitut, English and French became Nunavut's official languages in July 1, 2009, when Canadian government enacted a new Inuit Language Protection Act.
However, the struggle for Nunavut being the independent territory within the Canadian Federation started long before that, when the Proposed Agreement in Principle for Northwest Territories Land Claims was presented in which the creation of Nunavut and protection of Inuit language and culture were set as high priority negotiating principles.
In 1982 in The Northwest Territories at Yellowknife Legislative Assembly a plebiscite was held and the decision over dividing the territory was taken by the majority of 53% of both Inuit and Indians. However it was not until 1999 that Nunavut separated from NWT to become the youngest Canadian, self ruled territory.
The Agreement on Nunavut Land Claims was the largest and the most prominent aboriginal settlement in entire Canadian history. It made Inuit entitled to almost 350.000 square kilometers of land and its natural, mostly mineral and wildlife resources. That also meant new representation of Inuit in federal government on a new set of both, mineral and wildlife management and the environmental boards.
Inuit were given the right to harvest the wildlife on their territory, but what is more important, they were given a permit to negotiate with the industrial planning of the area for their own economic and social development.
In 1999 the government of Nunavut was established and divided into twenty eight divisions with the head office being situated in the capital city - Iqaluit. Nowadays it represents not only Inuit but also non - native people living in Northern Canada. It aims to bring up values of Inuit´s cultures and traditions by even allowing workers time off to pursue traditional activities like animal hunting.
Until the year of 2007, Government of Nunavut received over one billion dollars as a compensation from Canadian Federal Government which was passed to the Nunavut Trust responsible for protecting the capital. Each of the Nunavut Inuit Regional Associations that is: Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Kivalliq (Keewatin) Inuit Association and Baffin Regional Inuit Association received a portion of delivered amount.
Source: The Arctic by R. Sale Arctic Human Development Report Aboriginal Peoples Nunavut Land Claims Agreement