Canada’s Multicultural First Peoples
Today Canada is the most multi-cultural country in the world, and the home of immigrants of every ethnic and religious group from every country in the world.
But less than 500 years ago, the only people living in Canada were the Aboriginal people of Canada. “Aboriginal” means the original inhabitants, the people who were here first. The words “Native” or “Indigenous” are also used, and mean the same thing.
Today they all collectively refer to themselves as the First Nations or First Peoples of Canada. However, there are many different cultural groups.
Canada’s first people used at least 53 different languages. Each group referred to themselves by a specific name in their own language.
Scientists do not agree on where First Nations people came from, or how they got to North America, but they do know that First Nations people are genetically related to people in parts of Asia.
For a long time, scientists believed that the ancestors of all North American First Nations people crossed over on foot to North America from Asia at the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago.
At that time Asia and North America were joined, and what is now the bottom of the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska was dry land, – a “land bridge” – because sea levels were much lower than they are now. The earliest man-made artifacts, – tools or ornaments that archaeologists have found, – date from that time.