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The Algonquin are a First Nations group from southern Quebec and eastern Ontario, in Canada. They are one of the tribes within the much larger group of Algonquian-speaking peoples, which includes Cree, Mi’kmaq, Innu and Blackfoot, among others. Today, the Algonquin tribe comprises around 15,500 members, most of who live in ten communities in western Quebec and adjacent Ontario. According to Statistics Canada, there were 2,400 Algonquin speakers in Canada in 2011. The language is intrinsically linked to place names in Canada; Quebec actually comes from the Algonquin word kébec, meaning “place where the river narrows”.

Traditionally, the Algonquin people occupied a large territory in the Eastern Woodlands and Subarctic regions. For thousands of years, they lived hunted, traded and travelled throughout the Ottawa Valley. When they weren’t on the move, they lived in birch bark houses known as wigwams. After first contact with the Europeans as early as 1603, the Algonquins became active in the fur trade, forming alliances with both Aboriginal peoples and the French.

Nowadays, most Algonquin people live on reserves or on band-owned Crown land. Reserves are land that belongs to the tribe and is legally under their control. Algonquin First Nations have their own government, laws, police and services. However, residential schooling, the seizure of traditional lands and cultural dislocation has had detrimental effects on many of these communities.
Jul 11, 2016
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