There are 11 different Indigenous nations in Quebec, each with their own distinct identity: a history, language and culture all of their own. For too long, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have lived side by side without ever really knowing one another. Now it’s time to meet the people who have lived in Québec for thousands of years, whose lives have shaped and closely intertwined with this land. What are you waiting for?
The 10 First Nations and the Inuit Nation represent just over 1% of Québec’s population.
They make up 41 communities spread out across Québec. The majority of these communities are reserves administered by a band council. The Inuit, who are not Indians within the meaning of the Indian Act, live in Québec’s Far North, above the 55th parallel. They are grouped into 14 northern villages, each headed by a mayor and a council. Like the Cree Nation and the Naskapi Nation, Inuit communities are located on land covered by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement.
Many Indigineous peoples also live in urban areas, away their home communities.
Where do Indigenous peoples live?
Most First Nations peoples in Québec (with registered Indian status) live on Indian reserves, which are Category I designated settlements and lands. However, a considerable proportion lives outside of these communities in both urban and rural settings. Over 10,000 Inuit live in northern villages on the shores of Ungava Bay, Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay.
Indian reserves are lands under federal jurisdiction reserved for the exclusive use and benefit of the First Nations. Band councils may pass resolutions to control the use of a reserve. Settlements are parcels of land with no specific status on which Indigenous communities have settled. Band councils cannot pass resolutions to regulate the use of settlements since they were never officially set aside for use by the communities. The federal government administers the lands of Indian reserves and offers services to communities residing on reserves and living in settlements. The Inuit system is municipal and falls entirely under Québec’s jurisdiction.
The northern agreements grant the Crees, the Inuit and the Naskapis special rights on vast territories that are classified by category to facilitate their administration. Category I lands are reserved for the exclusive use of these nations while Category II and III lands are public, but these nations have certain rights on these lands.
In 1998, the lands reserved for Indigenous communities in Québec totalled 14,786.5 km2. Designated Category I lands make up 95% of this surface area. Reserves and settlements occupy only 5% of the entire territory, even though 70% of the Indigenous population lives there.