Indigenous Peoples

Date adopted: 
May 21, 2021
Last update: 
August 6, 2021

Terminology matters. In Canada’s history, terminology has been used in hurtful and derogatory ways that have caused harm to Indigenous individuals and communities. The Yukon government strives to be respectful and accurate in our language.

Use the terminology that an Indigenous group or government prefers. This could include:

  • traditional titles;
  • traditional place names (while being sensitive that different groups may have different names for the same place); or
  • other preferences.

Indigenous or Aboriginal             

The terms “Indigenous” and “Aboriginal” both refer collectively to the three groups (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) recognized in the Constitution of Canada. “Indigenous” is emerging as a preferred term, but you may use “Aboriginal” if:

  • it’s the preference of a group;
  • you’re quoting a document that uses the term;
  • you’ve received legal advice to use the term; or
  • it’s part of a proper name.

Use the term “Indigenous” or “Aboriginal” only when you’re referring to groups that could include a mixture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments or Citizens, otherwise use the more specific term. For example, First Nations, Yukon First Nations, Inuvialuit, Selkirk First Nation.

First Nations

First Nations collectively make up the largest category of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. First Nation(s) is a term that came into common use in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian” which many people found offensive. There are 14 Yukon First Nations and several transboundary First Nations who have traditional territory in the Yukon.  

Not: Indian, Native

But: “First Nations”

The term First Nations can refer to the governments or the individuals. Make sure it’s clear which meaning you intend when you use the term.

Inuit

Inuit are the Indigenous Peoples of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (the Northwest Territories, Yukon), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). The Inuvialuit are an Inuit group with treaty rights in northern Yukon.

Use “Inuit” (plural) or “Inuk” (singular). Use “Inuvialuit” (plural) or “Inuvialuk” (singular).

The translation of Inuit is “the people.” Therefore it’s redundant to add “people” after “Inuit.”

Métis

The Métis emerged as a distinct Indigenous group in the late 18th century, in fur-trade linked communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan Alberta and parts of Ontario, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. First Nations women and European fur traders had children together and then that population of mixed ancestry individuals intermarried and formed culturally unique communities, resulting in a new and distinct Indigenous group. There are people of Métis heritage living in the Yukon, but there’s no record of historic Métis communities here, so those individuals are not able to exercise land-based Indigenous rights in the territory. Use “Métis” to refer to people who identify as Métis, are of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who are accepted by the Métis Nation. Do not use the term Métis as a generic term for individuals of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous descent. 

Governance

The Government of Yukon works with all Indigenous Peoples on a government-to-government basis and we refer to all Indigenous governments as governments, whether or not they have a treaty.

Some Indigenous organizations we work with are advocacy organizations rather than governments. Consultation with these organizations does not replace direct government-to-government consultation unless the Indigenous governments agree to that. Some examples include the Council of Yukon First Nations and Kaska Dena Council.

Modern treaties and comprehensive land claim agreements

Comprehensive land claim agreements and modern treaties are different phrases that mean the same thing.

  • 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations have signed Final and Self-Government Agreements.
  • Yukon First Nation Final Agreements are constitutionally protected modern treaties, or comprehensive land claim agreements, that are based on the Umbrella Final Agreement. The Self-Government Agreements are an additional agreement that define First Nations’ self-government powers including law-making, taxation, and programs and services.
  • The Inuvialuit and Gwich’in also have modern treaties that provide for rights (and in the Gwich’in case, land) in the Yukon.

Not: non-self-governing First Nations, unsettled First Nations, non-settled First Nations

But: First Nations with or without treaties, First Nations with or without Final Agreements, treaty First Nations, non-treaty First Nations

Spelling and pronunciation

If a First Nation requests a different spelling, follow their wishes. Use the full name or write “the First Nation” once you’ve established which First Nation you’re referring to.

Some First Nations:

  • use a plural for “Nations” in their name and others do not;
  • do not use “First Nation” in their name because their name can be translated as “the people” or “the nation”, which makes adding “First Nation” or “people” redundant; or
  • use a different name when referring to their government versus their people.

Yukon First Nations governments

The acronyms are included for reference, but do not use them in public materials.

We also include the pronunciation for each First Nation.

Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN)

CAR-cross TAG-ish

Community: Carcross

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN)

CHAM-pain and EH-she-ack

Community: Haines Junction

Kluane First Nation (KFN)

Community: Burwash Landing

Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN)

QUAN-lin done

Community: Whitehorse

Liard First Nation (LFN)

Communities: Watson Lake, Lower Post (BC)

Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation (LSCFN)

little salmon CAR-max

Community: Carmacks

First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun (FNNND)​

First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun refers to the government; Na-Cho Nyäk Dun refers to the people

NA-cho nye-ack DONE

Community: Mayo

Ross River Dena Council (RRDC)

ross River DEN-a

Community: Ross River

Selkirk First Nation (SFN)

Community: Pelly Crossing

Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (TKC)

ta-on QUAA-chaan

Community: Whitehorse

Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC)

tes-lin KLING-kit

Community: Teslin

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (TH)

tron-DEK WITCH-in

Community: Dawson

​Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN)

vun-TUT GWITCH-in 
Vuntut Gwitchin Government refers to the government; Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation refers to the people

Gwitchin (when writing about people from Old Crow, Yukon)

Gwich’in language 

Gwich’in, Gwich’in Peoples (when writing about the whole nation or Gwich’in Peoples)

Community: Old Crow

White River First Nation (WRFN)

White river

Community: Beaver Creek

Transboundary Indigenous groups

Acho Dene Koe First Nation

Aa-CHO DEN-eh Co

Community: Fort Liard, NT

Gwich’in of the Northwest Territories

Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC)

Community: Inuvik, NT 

Tetlit Gwich’in Council (TGC)

TET-lit GWITCH-in

Community: Fort McPherson, NT

Gwitchin (when writing about people from Old Crow, Yukon)

Gwich’in language 

Gwich’in Peoples (when writing about the whole nation or Gwich’in Peoples)

Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC)

In-OO-via-LOO-it

Community: Inuvik, NT

Kaska of British Columbia

Daylu Dena Council (DDC)

DDC is part of the Liard First Nation

DAY-loo DEN-a

Community: Lower Post, BC

Dease River First Nation (DRFN)

Dease River

Community: Good Hope Lake, BC

Kwadacha Nation (KN)

Community: Fort Ware, BC

Kaska Dena Council (KDC)

kas-KA DEN-a

Tahltan Central Government (TCG)

Communities: Dease Lake, Telegraph Creek and Iskut, BC

Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN)

Ta-KU River KLING-kit

Community: Atlin, BC

Peoples and people

Capitalize “Peoples” but use lower case for “people”. “Peoples” indicates a number of distinct communities or nations, whereas “people” indicates a group of individuals. For example, “Indigenous Peoples have constitutionally protected rights in Canada” and “there were a number of Indigenous people at the meeting.”

Possessive language

Avoid possessive language that implies ownership.

Not: Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, Yukon’s First Nations

But: Indigenous Peoples in Canada, Yukon First Nations

Capitalization

Capitalize names of governments, groups and languages:

  • Indigenous, Aboriginal
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • First Nations, Métis, Inuit
  • Northern Tutchone, Athabaskan

Capitalize legally defined terms:

  • Final Agreement
  • Self-Government Agreement
  • Traditional Territory (when you’re referring to specific, legally defined territories)
  • Settlement Land
  • Citizen (of a First Nation)
  • Inuvialuit Settlement Region
  • Umbrella Final Agreement 
  • Formal titles such as Chief, Elder, Grand Chief

Do not capitalize general terms:

  • self-government
  • Aboriginal rights
  • treaty rights
  • traditional knowledge
  • transboundary First Nation
  • traditional territory (when you’re using it generally and not referring to a specific, legally defined territory)

Pluralization

Use the plural form to indicate that there are many separate nations in the Yukon and across Canada. Some First Nations use pluralization in their names to indicate more than 1 nation within their government.

Not: First Nation governments, First Nation languages, Indigenous government, Champagne and Aishihik First Nation

But: First Nations governments, First Nations languages, Indigenous governments or governance, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

Acknowledgements

Events and speaking notes

Include a traditional territory acknowledgement if you’re hosting an event or writing speaking notes. Acknowledge the First Nation whose home community you’re in. Remember that Whitehorse is the home community of both Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

Examples of common acknowledgments

  • I gratefully acknowledge that we are on the Traditional Territory of [First Nation].
  • I thank [First Nation] for welcoming us to their community.
  • I thank the community of [First Nation] for hosting us on their Traditional Territory.

Email signatures

Government of Yukon employees may want to acknowledge the traditional territory where they work in email signatures. If you choose to do this, some wording options include:

  • I respectfully acknowledge that I work within the Traditional Territory of [First Nation].
  • I respectfully acknowledge that I work within the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples. (if you work throughout the territory)

Legal, policy or consultation materials

Use “asserted traditional territory” in written legal, policy or consultation materials in relation to First Nations or transboundary Indigenous groups without land claim agreements.

Words with symbols

Some First Nations’ names contain umlauts. To access these symbols either go to “insert” then “symbol” in Word.