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Book cover with a painting of five figures travelling through rapids in a canoe, with forest in the background
The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation, by George Copway, illustrated by Darly, Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey & Co., 1851

ARCHIVED - Our Voices, Our Stories:
First Nations, Métis and Inuit Stories

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Voices of First Nations

By Arlette Sinquin


For thousands of years, the First Nations of Canada have used a complex system of rituals and oral tradition to pass on their knowledge, the ways in which they view and understand the world, and their beliefs, observations and history to successive generations.

Through oral tradition, First Nations peoples hand down various Creation stories that give them their identity and express their philosophy of life, their values and their traditional beliefs. Because of their spiritual nature, these stories are rooted in the sacred and usually passed on as part of a ritual. They are sometimes so complex that it takes several days to tell them in full.

Other types of stories include elements of fantasy as well as information that help First Nations peoples better understand their ancestry and specific historical events. Whether these stories are very old or the work of contemporary storytellers, they always offer a distinctly Aboriginal perspective and understanding of the world.

Visit the Media Gallery—First Nations to see more from the Library and Archives Canada collection.