King Billy Jago Photographer:

History of Aboriginal


The history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada is rich and diverse. This history stretches long into the past before the arrival of the European newcomers with diverse interactions among different peoples, flourishing trade and fierce conflict, and competition for lands and resources. The history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is essentially the very history of Canada as they have played, and continue to play important roles in its development and its future.

To learn more, please visit the virtual exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History and the First Nations in Canada historical e-book.

History: Crown-Aboriginal Relationships

The relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal people in Canada has been in near constant evolution since it was first established over 300 years ago. It has been affected by commercial and economic pressures, by shifting alliances and external threats, and by policies of protection and subordination. Read more about the history of Aboriginal people, the history of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and the treaty relationship.

Royal Proclamation of 1763

On October 7, 1763, King George III issued a Royal Proclamation for the administration of British territories in North America. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 set out the core elements of the relationship between First Nations and the Crown, established the recognition of First Nation rights in Canada, and laid the foundation of the treaty-making process and Canada's territorial evolution.

Treaty-Making in Canada

The impact of treaty-making in Canada has been wide-ranging and long standing. The treaties the Crown has signed with Aboriginal peoples since the 18th century have permitted the evolution of Canada as we know it and form the basis for the ongoing treaty relationship. This treaty-making process, which has evolved over more than 300 years between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada, has its origins in the early diplomatic relationship developed between European settlers and Aboriginal people. These diplomatic proceedings were the first steps in a long process that has led to today's comprehensive claims agreements between the Crown and Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal Contributions to the War of 1812

Throughout Canada's history, Aboriginal peoples have helped shape this land into the country we know today. During the War of 1812, First Nations warriors and Métis fighters played important roles in the defence of these British territories against invading American forces. Thousands of First Nations warriors and Métis fighters fought beside British troops and Canadian settler militias during the war. More than 10, 000 First Nations warriors from the Great Lakes region and the St. Lawrence Valley participated in nearly every major battle.



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