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Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™

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Eskimo identification tags replaced traditional names

“In Inuit tradition, a child is not considered to be a complete person until they receive an atiq or “soulname,” usually given at birth. The construction of a subject’s identity therefore is a complex process involving the historical customs of “naming,” kinship practices, as well as spiritual beliefs. The subject’s identity is thus composed of multiple layers, as the following narrative suggests:

No child is only a child. If I give my grandfather’s atiq to my baby daughter, she is my grandfather. I will call her ataatassiaq, grandfather. She is entitled to call me grandson.” [1]


A note on terminology: In this article we use the term “Eskimo” as it is historically accurate for the subject “Eskimo identification tags”. Eskimo is considered derogatory in Canada but is still in use in Alaska. In Canada the preference is Inuit.   

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Topics: Inuit

Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Turns Twenty - 10 Fast Facts

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Topics: Inuit

Nunavut Lands Claim Decision

Robert Janes, Janes Freedman Kyle Law Corp, Aboriginal Law in Canada Blog

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Topics: Inuit

Inuit People of the World

Thank you for your question. We have looked into this and this is what we have found out:

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Topics: Inuit

The Inuit Dog and My Adventure Outside Whitehorse, Yukon.

Earlier this week I delivered a pre-conference Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples™ training session at the 3rd annual Yukon First Nations Resource Conference and Student Job Fair. The session was well attended and we were fortunate enough to receive the following feedback:

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Topics: Inuit

3 Mistakes people make when working with the Inuit

The Inuit were identified as one of Canada's three distinct Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution Act of 1982 and as such Inuit have their own unique histories, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs as well as relationships with Canada.

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Topics: Inuit

Aboriginal Peoples

The term Aboriginal Peoples came into use in 1982 when the Government of Canada patriated the Canadian Constitution, and in so doing, formally entrenched Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the supreme law of Canada as seen below.

“35(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “Aboriginal Peoples of Canadaincludes the Indian, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1), “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

The term Aboriginal Peoples literally comes from subsection (2) of section 35 of the Constitution when it identifies and includes: the Indian, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada.

The Government of Canada was looking for a way to describe descendants of the original Indigenous Peoples and decided the term Aboriginal Peoples would be the best term to use.

It should be noted that although the term Aboriginal Peoples is the constitutionally correct term, research should be undertaken ahead of time to avoid mistakes on how or when to use Aboriginal Peoples as some communities may prefer to be called something else, such as First Nations.

Other considerations about how or when to use the term Aboriginal Peoples to describe a group of Peoples should include an understanding of the diversity of your audience. If you are speaking to a group that includes Indian and Métis Peoples, for example, then the usage of the term would be appropriate as it is an inclusive term. On the other hand, if you were meeting directly with a First Nation then I would consider using that term.

Be sure to tweet this to your networks and to join the discussion below as questions and comments are welcome.

It's important to be familiar with terminology when working across cultures. Download our free "Guide to Terminology" for a handy reference.

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Topics: Aboriginal peoples, Indian Act, Inuit, Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples, Metis