ARCHIVED - Common Terminology

Archived information

This Web page has been archived on the Web. Archived information is provided for reference, research or record keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

The following list provides a general understanding of common terms used by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). This list is only intended as a brief overview; the provisions of the Indian Act, its regulations, other federal statutes and their interpretation by the courts take precedence over the content of this list.

Aboriginal peoples: The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people – Indians, Métis and Inuit. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

Aboriginal rights: Rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors' long-standing use and occupancy of the land. The rights of certain Aboriginal peoples to hunt, trap and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices and traditions that have formed part of their distinctive cultures.

Aboriginal self-government: Governments designed, established and administered by Aboriginal peoples under the Canadian Constitution through a process of negotiation with Canada and, where applicable, the provincial or territorial government.

Aboriginal title: A legal term that recognizes an Aboriginal interest in the land. It is based on the long-standing use and occupancy of the land by today's Aboriginal peoples as the descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada.

Devolution: "Devolution" means the transfer of "province-like" legislative powers, programs and responsibilities associated with AANDC to territorial governments.

First Nation: A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word "Indian," which some people found offensive. Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term "First Nations peoples" refers to the Indian peoples in Canada, both Status and non-Status. Some Indian peoples have also adopted the term "First Nation" to replace the word "band" in the name of their community.

Harvesters: A term used in the context of those people who hunt, fish, trap and gather for personal use.

Indian Act: Canadian federal legislation, first passed in 1876, and amended several times since. It sets out certain federal government obligations and regulates the management of Indian reserve lands, Indian moneys and other resources. Among its many provisions, the Indian Act currently requires the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to manage certain moneys belonging to First Nations and Indian lands and to approve or disallow First Nations by-laws.

Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement: The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.

On May 10, 2006, the Government announced the approval by all parties of the IRSSA. The Government's representative, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, concluded the IRSSA with legal representatives of former students of Indian Residential Schools, legal representatives of the Churches involved in running those schools, the Assembly of First Nations, and other Aboriginal organizations.

The IRSSA was approved by the Courts and came into effect on September 19, 2007. The IRSSA includes the following individual and collective measures to address the legacy of the Indian Residential School system: Common Experience Payment; Truth and Reconciliation; Independent Assessment Process; Commemoration; and Healing.

Indian status: An individual's legal status as an Indian, as defined by the Indian Act.

Inuit: Aboriginal people in Northern Canada, who live in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec and Northern Labrador. The word means "people" in the Inuit language — Inuktitut. The singular of Inuit is Inuk.

Land claims: In 1973, the federal government recognized two broad classes of claims — comprehensive and specific. Comprehensive claims are based on the assessment that there may be continuing Aboriginal rights to lands and natural resources. These kinds of claims come up in those parts of Canada where Aboriginal title has not previously been dealt with by treaty and other legal means. The claims are called "comprehensive" because of their wide scope. They include such things as land title, fishing and trapping rights and financial compensation. Specific claims deal with specific grievances that First Nations may have regarding the fulfillment of treaties. Specific claims also cover grievances relating to the administration of First Nations lands and assets under the Indian Act.

Métis: People of mixed First Nation and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis, as distinct from First Nations people, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people. The Métis have a unique culture that draws on their diverse ancestral origins, such as Scottish, French, Ojibway and Cree.

Non-Status Indian: An Indian person who is not registered as an Indian under the Indian Act.

The North: Land in Canada located north of the 60th parallel. AANDC's responsibilities for land and resources in the Canadian North relate only to Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Northern Strategy: The Government of Canada is advancing an integrated Northern Strategy that will strengthen Canada's sovereignty, protect our environmental heritage, promote economic and social development and improve Northern governance.

Nunavut: The territory created in the Canadian North on April 1, 1999 when the former Northwest Territories was divided in two. Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut. Inuit, whose ancestors inhabited these lands for thousands of years, make up 85 percent of the population of Nunavut. The territory has its own public government.

Off-reserve: A term used to describe people, services or objects that are not part of a reserve, but relate to First Nations.

Opportunity ready communities: communities with stable, efficient and predictable investment climates where economic development projects can operate at the speed of business.

Red Tape Reduction Commission: Delivering on the commitment announced in Budget 2010, the Government of Canada created the Red Tape Reduction Commission with the following mandate:

Reserve: Tract of land, the legal title to which is held by the Crown, set apart for the use and benefit of an Indian band.

Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS): First issued in 1956, the Certificate of Indian Status, more commonly referred to as a Status card, is an identity document issued for administrative reasons by AANDC to confirm that the cardholder is registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act.

The new SCIS features several security improvements such as:

Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982: Section 35 recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. Supreme Court decisions in a series of cases have served to clarify these rights, and have established legal tests to determine the scope and content of Aboriginal rights, and which groups hold them.

Status Indian: A person who is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act. The act sets out the requirements for determining who is an Indian for the purposes of the Indian Act.

Sustainability: the capacity of a thing, action, activity, or process to be maintained indefinitely. (Federal Sustainable Development Act)

Treaties: The Government of Canada and the courts understand treaties between the Crown and Aboriginal people to be solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties.

Starting in 1701, in what was to eventually become Canada, the British Crown entered into solemn treaties to encourage peaceful relations between First Nations and non-Aboriginal people. Over the next several centuries, treaties were signed to define, among other things, the respective rights of Aboriginal people and governments to use and enjoy lands that Aboriginal people traditionally occupied.

Treaties include historic treaties made between 1701 and 1923 and modern-day treaties known as comprehensive land claim settlements.

Treaty rights already in existence in 1982 (the year the Constitution Act was passed), and those that came afterwards, are recognized and affirmed by Canada's Constitution.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will provide those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential School system with an opportunity to share their stories and/or experiences.

Urban Aboriginal people: The term — Urban Aboriginal people — refers primarily to Inuit, Métis and First Nations currently residing in urban areas. According to 2006 Census data, off-reserve Aboriginal people constitute the fastest growing segment of Canadian Society.

Programs and Projects as referred to in the Report on Plans and Priorities and the Departmental Performance Report

The following list provides a brief description of the specific programs and projects as taken from the relevant program webpages. For a more complete account of these programs and projects please visit the provided weblinks.

Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System: The Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System (ATRIS) is an electronic system which brings together information on the location of Aboriginal communities and information pertaining to their potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights. ATRIS provides information on claims processes and litigation and associates it with a geographic location or an Aboriginal group, increasing the accessibility of up-to-date, site-specific information on the rights of Aboriginal groups. ATRIS helps its users gain a better understanding of the Crown's legal duty to consult.

Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program: The Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program (AFCP) supports the operations of the National Association of Friendship Centres, affiliated Provincial/Territorial Associations (PTAs) and individual Aboriginal Friendship Centres to enable the provision of a wide range of culturally appropriate programs and services directed at improving the lives and strengthening the cultural identity of urban Aboriginal people.

Additions to Reserve: Additions to Reserve (ATR) is the granting of reserve status to a parcel of land that is added to an existing reserve of a First Nation. The legal title is set apart for the use and benefit of the band having made the application. Land can be added to reserves in either rural or urban settings.

Canadian High Arctic Research Station: The mission of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) is to be a world-class research station in Canada's Arctic that is on the cutting edge of Arctic issues. The Station will anchor a strong research presence in Canada's Arctic that serves Canada and the world. It will advance Canada's knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, and the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians.

Capital Facilities Maintenance Program: The Capital Facilities and Maintenance (CFM) program within Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is the main pillar of the Government of Canada's effort to support community infrastructure for First Nations on reserve. The main objectives of the CFM program are to make investments that:

Circuit Rider Training Program: AANDC's Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP) provides First Nations operators with hands-on, on-site training and mentoring on how to operate their drinking water and wastewater systems. The CRTP provides qualified experts who rotate through a circuit of First Nation communities, providing training and mentoring for the on-reserve operators on their own systems. Circuit Rider Trainers (CRTs) also help First Nations with minor troubles and issues related to the operation and maintenance of their systems.

Climate Change Adaptation Program: Through the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP), AANDC is supporting Aboriginal and northern communities to address risks and challenges posed by climate change impacts and to become more resilient.

Common Experience Payment: The Common Experience Payment (CEP) is a lump-sum payment that recognizes the experience of living at an Indian Residential School(s) (IRS) and its impacts. CEP is based on:

Consultation Information Service: The Consultation Information Service (CIS) was created to act as a single window for providing information on the location and nature of established and potential Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The CIS provides contact information of Aboriginal groups and their leadership, information on multipartite agreements, historic and modern treaties and their provisions, comprehensive and specific claims, litigation and other assertions.

Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth: The objectives of Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth (CCAY) are:

ecoENERGY for Aboriginal and Northern Communities Program: The ecoENERGY for Aboriginal and Northern Communities Program 2011-2016 (EANCP) is focused exclusively on providing funding support to Aboriginal and northern communities for clean energy projects. It is delivered by AANDC and is one of the suite of clean energy programs funded by the Government of Canada that address action on climate change.

Education Information System: The Education Information System (EIS) is the computer database that manages the education programs information within the AANDC Services Portal. This secure system is designed to modernize and replace the old paper-based processes for reporting, while streamlining data collection practices.

Education Partnership Program: The Education Partnerships Program is part of an overarching commitment of the Government of Canada to set the foundation for long-term reform of First Nations education. This proposal-driven program is designed to promote collaboration between First Nations, provinces, AANDC, and other stakeholders towards improving the success of First Nation elementary and secondary students in First Nation and provincial schools.

Emergency Management Assistance Program: The Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) enables funding and coordination assistance to First Nations on reserve lands in the event of emergencies like fires and floods, often through arrangements with provincial and territorial governments for the delivery of emergency management services to First Nations.

Family Violence Prevention Program: The Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) provides funding to assist First Nations in providing access to family violence shelter services and prevention activities to women, children and families ordinarily resident on-reserve.

First Nation Child and Family Services Program: The goal of AANDC's First Nation Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program is to support First Nation communities in providing culturally appropriate child welfare services that are reasonably comparable to those available to other provincial or territorial residents in similar circumstances, within AANDC authorities.

First Nations and Inuit Post-Secondary Student Support Program: The First Nations and Inuit Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) provides financial assistance to Status Indian and Inuit students who are enrolled in eligible post-secondary programs, which includes: community college and CEGEP diploma or certificate programs; undergraduate programs; and advanced or professional degree programs.

First Nations Land Management Regime: The First Nation Land Management Regime (the Regime) enables the development of First Nation laws to manage reserve land, resources and environment under a land code established by a First Nation within the Regime. This allows participating First Nations to opt out of the land-related sections of the Indian Act and enact their own laws taking into consideration the development, conservation, use and possession of reserve lands.

First Nation Student Success Program: The First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP) is a proposal-driven program designed to help First Nation educators on reserve (Kindergarten to Grade 12) and improve school results. The Program supports projects that increase students' achievement levels in reading and writing (literacy), mathematics (numeracy), and encourages students to remain in school (student retention).

Income Assistance Program: The Income Assistance Program provides funding to assist eligible individuals and families who are ordinarily resident on-reserve, with basic and special needs services that are aligned with those provided to other residents of the reference province or territory. The program also funds the delivery of pre-employment measures designed to increase self-reliance, improve life skills and promote greater attachment to the work force. The Income Assistance program has four main components: basic needs, special needs, pre-employment supports, and service delivery. The expected outcome of the Income Assistance program is an improved quality of life through the reduction of poverty and hardship on-reserve, as well as improved participation in, and attachment to, the workforce.

Indian Studies Support Program: The Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) provides financial assistance to post-secondary institutions for the design and delivery of college or university level courses for First Nation and Inuit students, including research and development of First Nation and Inuit education.

Northern Contaminants Program: The Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) was established in 1991 in response to concerns about human exposure to elevated levels of contaminants in wildlife species that are important to the traditional diets of northern Aboriginal peoples. Early studies found a wide variety of substances, many of which had no Arctic or Canadian sources, but which were, nevertheless, reaching unexpectedly high levels in the Arctic ecosystem.

Northern Scientific Training Program: The Northern Scientific Training Program supports scientific training provided by Canadian universities which gives advanced students professional experience in the North and encourages them to develop a commitment to northern work. The program aims to increase the number of graduate and senior undergraduate students in Canadian universities who have specialized in some aspect of northern scientific studies and who have northern research experience.

Northwest Territories Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program: In an effort to ensure that environmental information is collected and available to Northerners, decision-makers and industry, the Northwest Territories Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program (NWT CIMP) aims to watch and understand the land and use it respectfully forever. The program coordinates, supports and conducts both monitoring related initiatives in the NWT by incorporating both scientific and traditional knowledge, while taking into consideration both human and biophysical environments. The NWT CIMP strives to fill information gaps in current monitoring activities, report on the state of the NWT environment and the cumulative impacts of land and water uses and waste deposits, and encourage and support community-based monitoring, capacity building and training.

Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy: The NWT Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) was created in 1999 as a planning framework to help Northerners protect special natural and cultural places, and ecologically representative places in the Northwest Territories. PAS partners include federal, territorial and Aboriginal governments, communities, regional organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations and industry.

Nutrition North Canada: Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a food subsidy program for isolated northern communities. The program subsidizes:

Nutrition North Canada provides the subsidy directly to retailers, suppliers, and country food processors that apply, meet the program's requirements and register with NNC by signing funding agreements with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Community residents benefit from the subsidy because:

Pangnirtung: Making Connections for Youth: The Pangnirtung: Making Connections for Youth pilot project is a horizontal initiative to provide federal youth programming from five federal departments to the Hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, in a coordinated and streamlined manner. The project is a part of the Government of Canada's efforts to simplify program administration requirements and reduce the administrative burden for low-risk and remote federal grant and contribution recipients.

Strategic Partnerships Initiative: The Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI) is a program intended to support Aboriginal participation in the economy, with a particular focus on opportunities in natural resource sectors. A key component of the new Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, SPI enables more than a dozen partnering federal departments and agencies to provide a coordinated federal response to existing and emerging Aboriginal economic development opportunities.

Strong Schools, Successful Students Initiative: The Strong Schools, Successful Students Initiative is time-limited and will provide organizations currently supported by the Education Partnerships Program and First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP) with new funding for new activities that support capacity development in areas such as: governance and leadership, parental and community involvement, planning, performance measurement, risk management, and organizational planning.

Treaty Obligation Monitoring System (TOMS): TOMS acts as a statistical database of federal obligation fulfillment over the long term, providing an empirical reporting tool that complements the collaborative, more qualitative annual reports.

University and College Entrance Preparation Program: The University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP) is intended to provide financial assistance to Status Indian and Inuit students enrolled in university or college entrance programs to help them achieve the academic level required to enter degree or diploma programs.

Urban Aboriginal Strategy: The Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) is a community-based initiative developed by the Government of Canada to improve social and economic opportunities of Aboriginal people living in urban centres.

Young Canada Works for Aboriginal Urban Youth Program: Young Canada Works for Aboriginal Urban Youth (YCWAUY) supports Aboriginal youth, aged 16 to 30 inclusive, to explore career choices and gain the skills and knowledge required to participate in the labour force through summer work experiences, lasting 6 to 16 consecutive weeks.

Date modified: