Information and Definitions

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FNMI – First Nations, Metis, Inuit

Throughout Canada, you have probably heard people say FNMI or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit when referring to Indigenous Peoples. This acronym recognizes the 3 distinct groups of Indigenous Peoples within Canada. Within each of these groups, there are many different Nations, communities, and families/kin. Below is an introductory explanation to aid understanding:

First Nations

Indigenous Peoples from one of the 630 First Nations communities, representing over 50 Nations and 50 languages. This includes status and non-status First Nations. Status First Nations are registered with the Indian Act. See more details about the Indian Act in the “Rights, Status, & Special Programs” page of this website.

Métis

Indigenous people originating from Métis homeland, Red River Settlement in present-day Manitoba. Also known as the Métis Nation, Métis are local communities and traditional territories, with a common ancestry, identity, culture, social and kinship relationships and rich history dating back to nearly 200 years of resistance (source).

In the Métis language Michif, Métis is spelled with a capital M. The lowercase métis means “mixed-race” in French and is not the same as Métis people. Capitalized Métis is not synonymous with a term for people with mixed-race identity, although some Métis may have mixed heritage. It is important to listen to folks with various intersections of identity, who may choose their own way of identifying themselves according to their unique history, community, and kinship. What is essential to know is that Métis are a distinct Nation of people with their own connection to their homeland, history, and resistance.

Inuit

Indigenous Peoples from Inuit Nunangat, or the Inuit homeland including lands, waters, and ice. This encompasses Nunavik (in Northern Quebec), Nunavut territory, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunatsiavut (in Newfoundland and Labrador).

Inuit means “the people”. Therefore, you do not say “Inuit people”, which would be redundant and essentially translate to “the people people”. Instead, simply say:

  • “Inuit” — more than two people, or a group
  • “Inuk” — a singular person
  • “Inuuk” — two people, or a pair

Inuktitut is spoken in various dialects among regions and sometimes even differing between communities. For example, someone from Nunavut would speak and spell certain words differently than someone from Nunavik, even though they are both speaking Inuktitut. Here in Quebec, most language resources would pertain to the Nunavik dialect. You can find more resources on language here.

A great resource to learn more about identity, colonialism, and allyship is “Indigenous Writes” by Chelsea Vowel.