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  • Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada
  • Kenneth C. Favrhold (bio)
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ATLAS OF CANADA / Ottawa: Royal Canadian Geographical Society with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, Indspire, and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, 2018. Pp. 308; illustrated (colour) w/maps, 25 × 30 cm. ISBN: 978-0-9867516-2-2 (hardcover/slipcase), $99.99 CDN. Available from

This four-volume atlas is an ambitious production by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Indspire, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The 308 pages are beautifully illustrated with a variety of photographs and historical and modern maps, combined with many personal stories and essays by Indigenous leaders, journalists, storytellers, artists, and knowledge keepers. The topics are closely connected to the land, providing, as introduced on the cover page, "Indigenous perspectives much older than the nation itself shared through maps, artwork, history and culture." The information is up to date to 2018, and there is a balance of pictorial and textual content in each volume.

Important introductions set the tone for each volume – by National Chief Perry Bellgarde of the Assembly of First Nations, President Natan Obed of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and President Clément Chartier of the Métis Nation. The essays in the Métis and Inuit volumes are mainly contributed by the Gabriel Dumont Institute and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, respectively.

A time line extends throughout each volume, providing interesting facts and milestones relating to the three Indigenous peoples, written in the first person, reflecting the "Native voice" (LaPier, 2015, 9–10). Each volume has a clear table of contents, but there is no index.

Many maps are appropriate, readable, and uncluttered, such as the maps – in the First Nations volume – of forced relocation north of Winnipeg (p. 16), Mining Claims in the Ring of Fire (p. 37), and the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve (p. 39). The map of St'at'imc Territory (p. 55) is a unique oblique projection. However, some of the maps in this volume suffer from being too small and difficult to decipher, such as the Sahtu Dene and Métis Traditional Trail Network (p. 26) and Education and First Nations (p. 43). The saturated colour used in the reproduction of part of John Palliser's 1865 map showing the prairies (pp. 60–61) makes the image hard to read.

In the Inuit volume, similar issues exist. The communities on the important "Inuit Owned Lands in Nunavut" map (p. 11) are impossible to make out; the 1891 North Polar Chart (p. 31) could have been cropped and enlarged to show the Inuktut place names; an inset map on page 47 is lacking an explanatory caption and place names; and the historical map of Cumberland Isle (p. 19) is too faint to appreciate.

The illustrations in the Métis volume fare better, where the use of historical maps provides variety, except for the reproduction of the 1817 map of Seven Oaks (p. 31), which is out of focus. A couple of images are "unidentified" (pp. 8–9); one such work is in fact by the artist Peter Rindisbacher.1 Another is an etching of the US–Rupert's Land boundary post (p. 11) from a sketch by George Seton, misplaced on the timeline.2

Although over 40 maps are spread evenly throughout the three volumes of Indigenous peoples, the volume Indigenous Canada is really the atlas that pulls the three groups together with 48 pages of maps focussing on language, population distribution, areas under land claims, and reserve names. Unfortunately, the maps are challenging to read and use.

The environment is an important theme in the First Nations volume. Dan David focusses on traditional land use – actually maps and place names (pp. 34–35); John Kim Bell's story about development and resource depletion (pp. 36–37) is particularly relevant; and Jacinda Mack targets the impact of industry on the First Nations land base with the example of the Polley Mine in Secwepemc territory (pp. 38–39). Missing is Old Swan's map mentioned in the essay by Bruce Cutknife (p...


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