About the nations

The 10 First Nations and the Inuit Nation represent approximately 1% of Québec’s population. They are spread out over 55 Indigenous communities. The Inuit people reside in 14 northern villages and each village is headed by a mayor and a council with responsibilities similar to those of elected officials in other Québec municipalities. First Nations peoples generally live on reserves or in settlements administered by a band council, which is made up of a chief and advisors.

Each Indigenous nation is unique. Indeed, within the same nation or even the same community, the members’ way of life, use of a given language and socioeconomic situation may vary considerably. Many different factors can also change the socioeconomic situation of a nation or community.

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.

Last update: September 20, 2022

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