UPDATED April 20, 2017

BY Shanny Hill

IN Company, Oh, Canada!, TDA Foundation


UPDATED April 20, 2017

BY Shanny Hill

IN Company, Oh, Canada!, TDA Foundation


It’s #Canada15000 not #Canada150 – Celebrating First Nations Heritage in Canada

Canada as a nation state is 150 years old this year. The hashtag #Canada150 is making the rounds on social media and marketers (like me!) are on a blitz promoting our vast country and the many ways to celebrate the anniversary. As a result Canada is topping all the lists of 2017 travel destinations.

Not surprisingly, there are countless events being planned to mark the occasion. One crazy company (that’s us!) was inspired to launch an amazing 3 month, 8,800 km coast to coast cycle tour. That said, I’ve been to bars in Europe that are hundreds of years older than Canada. Surely some people must be rolling their eyes at this young nation’s ‘big birthday.’


But First Nations people of Canada must really cringe at the birthday celebration. The truth is that the story of our nation – its people and how we all got here – started long before July 1, 1867. Every few years archaeologists unearth artifacts dating further back in time that confirm their presence on this continent millennia before the arrival of the first Europeans – another such site on Canada’s east coast was discovered earlier this month. So far, from what I’ve read, the oldest artifacts discovered date back 15,500 years.

So it’s cute to say we are 150 years old this year and Canadians certainly need little urging to throw a party (have you heard of May Two-Four weekend?), but its also crucial that we not get ahead of ourselves, and lose sight of the historical truths. Perhaps #Canada15000 is a little more accurate…

Recognizing Traditional Territories of the First Nations

So let’s take a moment to acknowledge some of the ancestral land that our cycle tour will cross thru as we pedal our vast (and very young) nation. Our cycle tour covers some 8,800 km and every one of those kilometers is connected to the First Nations of our country.

I have tried to be precise and to properly acknowledge lands using online resources such as Native-Land.ca and other websites, but my efforts here have likely fallen short of the mark. Proper appreciation of these vast territories requires an understanding of an entirely different way of looking at maps, and land, and ownership. I am reminded not only of how enormous this country is, but how important it is for us to recognize all our peoples whose ancestors trace their lineage much further back on this land than my heritage does.


With all that in mind, we would like to not only acknowledge the following First Nations territories, but celebrate each of their cultures with respect throughout our bicycle journey…

Traditional Territories in the Haida Gwaii & the Rockies section:

The lands on which we will be cycling are the traditional territories of the HaidaTsimshianGitxsanWet’suwet’enDakelh, StoneyAseniwuche Winewak (Rocky Mountain)Tsuu T’inaBlackfootKelly Lake Metis Settlement Society, and Ktunaxa peoples.

Traditional Territories in the Wheat Kings section:

The lands on which we will be cycling are the traditional territories of the Tsuu T’ina, AssiniboineBlackfootKtunaxa, and Métis peoples.

Traditional Territories in the Great Lakes section:

The lands on which we will be cycling are the traditional territories of the MétisOjibway/ChippewaMississaugas of the New CreditCreeAnishinabekHuron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples.

Traditional Territories in the Upper & Lower Canada section:

The lands on which we will be cycling are the traditional territories of the Ojibway/ChippewaMississaugas of the New CreditCreeAnishinabekHuron-WendatAlgonquin, Abenaki / AbénaquisMalécitesHaudenosaunee (Iroquois), and Haudenosaunee (St Lawrence Iroquois) peoples.

Traditional Territories in the Acadian Way section:

The lands on which we will be cycling are the traditional territories of the Abenaki / AbénaquisMalécitesMi’kmaqWabanaki ConfederacyHaudenosaunee (St Lawrence Iroquois), and Beothuk peoples.

Our Contribution to the Truth and Reconciliation Centre

So with respect to the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (did you know North America is known as Turtle Island to many native people), and in recognition of the many ways Canada has failed them, the TDA Foundation is happy to make a significant donation to the National Truth and Reconciliation Centre (located on our Oh, Canada! cycling route in Winnipeg, Manitoba).

>>Consider making a donation here

We encourage each of you and all the participants on this tour to consider doing the same in honour of the land that has been shared by Canada’s First Nations with settlers and immigrants from Europe and around the world.


Further Reading

Interactive Map of First Nations Territories, Treaties, and Languages

CBC – New maps to depict pre-colonial ‘Turtle Island’ Canada

PBS – Prehistoric Hunt Suggest Humans Arrived in North America Earlier

Smithsonian magazine – When did humans come the the Americas

Toronto Star – Indigenous people are not ghosts of history

University of Toronto – Canada 150 or Canada 15000

2 Comments for "It’s #Canada15000 not #Canada150 – Celebrating First Nations Heritage in Canada"

Thanks for the wonderful article with references — I’m already investigating. There seem to be many similarities between Canada’s and Australia’s first peoples, their languages and their cultures. It will be a fascinating way to see the country.

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