SA45 Indigenous Place Names

SA45 Indigenous Place Names



Indigenous Names of Provinces and Territories in Canada SA45


  • Grade:       K-8
  • Date:          Jun. 18-24, 2018.   (* This activity can be completed at any time)
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Did you know that the very name of our country,
and the names of 6 out of 13 provinces and territories
all come from different Indigenous languages in Canada?

You won’t find these names anywhere else in the world, because they come from the languages of the Indigenous people who were living in each place when the Europeans arrived.

Most Indigenous names are wonderfully descriptive, and identify an important feature of a place. For example, “ATIKOKAN” comes from the Ojibwe term for “caribou bones”, GASPÉ is the Mi’qmaq term for “the place where the land ends”, and the CHILANKO RIVER name comes
from the Chilkcotin language, meaning “many beaver river”.

This activity focuses on learning the origins of 7 official place names in Canada which come from different Indigenous languages.



  1. Students will learn about and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous people to Canada through their many different and descriptive languages.
  2. Students will learn the location of Canada’s provinces and territories on a map.



  • Social Studies/Geography (Place and Location)
  • Literacy: Reading, Writing
  • Aboriginal/Indigenous Education (Indigenous Languages, contributions to Canada)



This week’s activity challenges older students to discover the origins of the 7 official place names in Canada which come from different Indigenous Languages. They could read the attached information copied from the Natural Resources Canada website, or use their research skills to find the answers on the internet.

For older students, a map is provided on which they can record the Indigenous place names in the correct location.

A different version of this map is provided for younger students. The 7 Indigenous names are spelled out for them, and the language of origin is provided. This week’s activity challenges younger students to work in groups and figure out where to write each name on the map of Canada, simply by sounding out the name for each place.



Indigenous Place Name Origins

Indigenous Province+Territories JR-IN.jpg

Indigenous Province+Territories PR-JR.jpg.



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