Indigenous Peoples and names in B.C.

Last updated: February 24, 2022

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Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples can mean First Nations, Métis and Inuit living in and outside of B.C. Over 270,000 people in B.C. identify as Indigenous. This represents almost 6% of the overall population (data from 2016 Census). Of that:

  • 1,615 identified themselves as Inuit
  • 89,405 identified themselves as Métis
  • 172,520 identified themselves as First Nations
  • 40% of First Nations people in B.C. live on-reserve and 60% live off-reserve. First Nations people were moved to a reserved piece of land when their homeland was taken away. Some First Nations people that live outside of their community (off-reserve), refer to themselves as “away from home”, meaning they are away from their family, away from their community.


Wherever possible, use Indigenous names and spellings for Indigenous people. Use naming conventions preferred by the Indigenous people at the centre of your work.

Distinction-based approach

Begin your work with a distinction-based approach. This approach acknowledges the distinct histories, interests and priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The context of the content will dictate which populations to include.

For example, for land-based decisions, Indigenous Peoples would be defined as First Nations whose territories are within B.C. If the context is social and health determinants, then Indigenous Peoples would be defined as including First Nations living on reserve, Métis, Inuit, urban Indigenous populations and First Nations members who live in B.C. but whose nation is outside of B.C. (for example: Mohawk, Navajo).

Explain the context of your work clearly and fully. Listen. Seek to understand. Seek consent.

Urban Indigenous Peoples

Due to enfranchisement or disconnection from their home communities, there is a large population Indigenous people living in urban areas that have been denied registered Indian status. Urban Indigenous people without status are impacted very differently and are often considered in important discussions like treaties, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Indian Act.

Nation names and pronunciation

See the First Nations A – Z Listing for names and spellings as a starting point. Consult the First Nation's website and council administration as the Nation may have changed their name, spelling, etc. Another useful resource is the Guide to the Pronunciation of Indigenous Communities and Organizations in B.C.

Identify individuals by their Nation, if that’s their preference, rather than by the generic term ‘Indigenous.’ For example:

  • They’re Dakelh, of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, and presented to the board about the Nechako watershed.

Indigenous place names

Whenever possible, identify places by their Indigenous names. For example, PKOLS is the restored Indigenous name for what was known as Mount Douglas.

Where the Indigenous name is not widely known, include the colonial name in brackets. For example:

  • Ch'ich'iyúy Elxwíkn (The Lions) are a pair of pointed peaks along the North Shore Mountains in Metro Vancouver.

To explore an interactive map of Indigenous languages, arts and heritage in B.C., visit the First Peoples Cultural Council’s First Peoples' Map of B.C.