Glossary of Terms



In Canada, the term Indian has certain legal definitions. 1. Heritage. Since the mid 19th century, the Canadian govt. and before that the colonies of Upper & Lower Canada, in legislating the Indian Act, created a legal category of Indians (Status Indians or registered Indians). Should be used only when referring to the Indian Act.

Status Indian

Refers to individuals who are recognized and registered or entitled to be registered in the Indian register as “Indians” according to the Indian Act. These individuals have not signed a treaty.

Non Status Indian

Refers to individuals who claim Aboriginal ancestry who do not meet the criteria to be recognized or registered as “Indians” according to the Indian Act. Some people lost their status by an act of legislation or by disenfranchisement by marring a No Indian, giving up status and rights.

Treaty Indian

A term commonly used to describe a person who is affiliated with a Treaty Band. A Treaty Band is one which entered into a Treaty with the Government of Canada exchanging land for monetary benefits.

First Nations

Defines who Canada’s first people are and serves a basis for ongoing negotiations with federal & provincial governments dealing with Canada’s Treaty Indians, Status Indians, Non Status Indians, Inuit and Métis.


Refers to the original inhabitants of Canada including Status, Non Status, Métis and Inuit people as defined in the Constitution Act of 1982.


Refers to people of mixed biological and cultural heritage. French word for mixed blood, and was used to refer to descendants of French and Indian. The term now identifies all mixed European and Indian ancestry. Since 1982, the Constitution Act, Section 35, identifies Métis as Aboriginal people.

Indigenous people

A Latin word meaning the original people of a country. This term is in reference to the world view and its first people.


Refers to the distinct population, languages and cultures of the original people of the Arctic regions. Inuit has replaced the term Eskimo which is an Algonguian term meaning “eaters of raw meat”. Inuit refers to “people of the land”. Since a Supreme Court decision in 1939, the Inuit have been legally treated as similar to Status Indians, with access to same government benefits and services, and the criteria for being reckoned as Inuit are identical to those of the Indian Act. However, the Inuit do not fall under the provisions of the Indian Act and do not live on reserves.


The term has been widespread among Canadian people however, in official language the term is used rarely but is used informally by Aboriginals and Non Aboriginals alike. A person born in a certain place or country.