Is first nations politically correct?

There is no legal definition of First Nation and it is acceptable both as a noun and as a modifier. Using “First Nations Community” is a respectful alternative phrase. Secondly, the etymological meaning of this term is internally coherent. Indigenous comes from the Latin word indigena, which means “sprung from the earth; native.

Therefore, using “indigenous” instead of “aboriginal” reinforces land claims and encourages the recognition of territories, a practice that links indigenous peoples to their lands and respects their claims to them. The terms Aboriginal, Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples are generally accepted terms in Canada and include First Nations, Mestizos, and Inuit. But at the same time, using “indigenous” does not recognize all nations in a respectful way. Many Aboriginal people in Canada do not have this formal connection, and mixed-race or Inuit people should never be called “First Nations”.

The term indigenous was chosen by indigenous leaders in the 1970s to identify and unite diverse communities and represent them in global political scenarios. Because there are more than 50 different indigenous nations in Canada, living in more than 600 communities, it can be difficult to find a single word that covers everything. It is broad, on the one hand, because it includes all Canadian groups, but specific, on the other, since it is not widely used in international contexts. The Inuit are another aboriginal group, which is historically found in the Arctic and that differs legally and culturally from First Nations or from legally defined Indians and mixed race people.

Indigenous peoples have been on these lands since time immemorial, thousands of years before Canada became a nation. For informal documents, use “First Nation” or, collectively, when referring to reservation-based communities, “First Nations”, but in specific references, it is more preferred to use the name that the community (or First Nation) uses publicly. As an expert on indigenous issues, I am often asked what is the appropriate or “politically correct” term to describe indigenous peoples, First Nations and Aboriginal people. The term “Indian” should be used only when referring to a First Nations person with status under the Indian Act, and only within its legal context.

This term began to be widely used during the 1970s, when Aboriginal groups organized transnationally and pressed for a greater presence at the United Nations (UN). While “First Nations” refers to the ethnicity of First Nations peoples, the singular “First Nation” can refer to a band, a community based on a reservation, or a larger tribal group and the status of the Indians who live there. The term “Aboriginal” refers to the first inhabitants of Canada and includes First Nations, Inuit and mixed race peoples. The term Aboriginal was introduced into the Canadian Constitution of 1982 by its federal government as a “general” term to include First Nations, Inuit and mixed race people.

Dominic Bélanger
Dominic Bélanger

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