Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®

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Betty Ann Lavallée, National Chief, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Ms. Betty Ann Lavallée, CD, (Ret’d) is the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. A status off-reserve Mi’kmaq woman who has worked all her adult life in non-traditional roles, Chief Lavallée is now in her second term as National Chief for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Previously, Chief Lavallée served as the Chief of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC) for 13 years beginning in 1997. Chief Lavallée was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for approximately 17 years where she was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration and Commendation Formation Level and the Queen’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee Medal.

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Topics: Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal Organizations, People

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Elects Betty Ann Lavallée as National Chief


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Topics: Aboriginal peoples, Famous Aboriginal People

Handshakes and Aboriginal Peoples

When it comes to a handshake and Aboriginal Peoples what could possibly go wrong?

Many people like to shake hands and always offer a hand when meeting and working with people. This works most of the time, but we do have to remember that when we are working with Aboriginal Peoples we are working across cultures with individuals in their own right and that some Aboriginal People do not shake hands therefore are not expecting, or are comfortable with a handshake. With this in mind, we have to understand and be prepared to offer a hand and not have one offered in return.
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Topics: Aboriginal peoples

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.

Get my free Guide to Terminology Now!

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

Aboriginal Peoples Did Not have Written Languages

Bob Joseph
Aboriginal Peoples did not have written languages although many of the Indigenous Peoples of North America relied on oral histories instead of a written language to pass down their history. For example, there were Peoples who were recording historical events in the form of pictographs in various materials. The Maya and Inca were recording history in stone while some of the plains peoples were recording historical events on buffalo hides.

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Topics: Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal Awareness