Google has added 3,000 Canadian indigenous reserves and settlement lands to Google Maps and Google Earth platforms. Google unveiled the project earlier today, June 21st and Summer Solstice, which is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. Google said the launch is the culmination of a seven-year collaboration between indigenous communities in Canada, mapping experts and Google Canada.

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The data was collected from Natural Resources Canada, Google said, as well as input and data from members of indigenous communities.

Tara Rush, who is from Akwesasne territory and works at Google Canada, said in a blog post that the launch marks “an essential step in accurately reflecting Canada to Canadians and to the world.”

The map is not all-inclusive, Google representatives said, which is why they are putting out a call asking communities that do not see themselves represented to share data.

Aboriginal Place Names

In Canada close to 30,000 official place names are of Indigenous origin, and efforts are ongoing to restore traditional names to reflect Indigenous culture.

As the original occupants of the land now known as Canada, Indigenous Peoples named the land and the features around them. As Europeans settled in Canada, they introduced names that reflected their own culture and history. Indigenous heritage is reflected in many place names where European settlers tried to transpose the words they were hearing into either English or French.

Today, efforts are underway to restore traditional names to reflect the Indigenous culture wherever possible.

Indigenous place names contribute to the preservation, revitalization and strengthening of Indigenous histories, languages and cultures.

In recent years, the Geographical Names Board of Canada has worked with Indigenous groups to restore traditional place names to reflect the culture of the original inhabitants of the territory. Some names of European origin have been replaced by traditional Indigenous names, and some unnamed physical features and populated places have been given names in Indigenous languages.

Each jurisdiction’s approach is different, reflecting its particular geography, history and circumstances. This long-term work is still evolving as a means of representing the coexistence of all the cultures that have built our past and our present history.

Examples of official Indigenous place names

Utatnun Kaiahtet Uhakatshuku, Quebec: Innu
Seal gathering place where the skidded sled is.

Qimivvik, Nunavut:> Inuktitut
Place where a hunter once got tangled in his dog team ropes; an island.

Łiidlaı̨ı̨, Northwest Territories:Gwich’in
Where two rivers come together.

Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik Lake, Manitoba:Cree
A place where people fish (with a line) for wild trout.

Gitwinksihlkw, British Columbia:Cree
People of the lizard’s habitat.

The feature image of this story comes from WIOT, a magazine for contemporary Indigenous voices.

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