The British and French were latecomers to Canada, a country that for thousands of years was home to a vast aboriginal population (or “First Nations”). Today, almost a million Canadians claim descent from these first peoples, from the so-called “Indians” of the central and western heartlands, to the Inuit, inhabitants of the great sweep of Canada’s north. A third group, the Métis – descendants of mixed unions of white and aboriginal people – also have a distinct identity, part of a rich cultural, social and artistic mosaic that provides a beguiling complement to the mainstream. You’ll find evidence of Canada’s former aboriginal life in many museums and galleries, and plenty of areas nurturing living aboriginal cultures, though there’s no escaping the fact that many aboriginal people are among the most marginalized of Canadians.

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