Indigenous place names
Most, if not all of Parks Canada special natural and cultural places have been traditionally used by Indigenous peoples long before Canada became a country. These culturally significant sites are as vital as ever to Indigenous culture and connection to the land. Many heritage places honour Indigenous histories and connections through the place name. Place names and the stories associated with them are a source of critical knowledge; they identify where resources can be found, referred to past events, and described the landscape.
The traditional names of Mealy Mountains are Akami-Uapishkᵁ, an Innu word meaning White Mountains across, and KakKasuak, a Labrador Inuit word for mountain. For the Innu, Inuit, and others, the landscapes of this outstanding natural region hold great cultural significance.
Aulavik, meaning “ place where people travel ” in Inuvialuktun, protects more than 12,000 square kilometres of arctic lowlands on the north end of Banks Island. The park encompasses a variety of landscapes from fertile river valleys to polar deserts, buttes and badlands, rolling hills, and bold seacoasts.
Auyuittuq - Ow-you-eet-took
The Inuktitut word, "auyuittuq" means "the land that never melts". Auyuittuq epitomizes the majestic beauty of the Arctic. Imposing landscape of jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys, perpetual ice and fjords with vertical walls symbolize the Inuit belief that time is eternal.
Gitwangak, which means People of the Place of Rabbits. Pronunciation – Git – wan – gaa. "Gitwangak" is the correct Gitsenimx language spelling of the name of the First Nation that built the fort in the 18th century. "Battle Hill" is the name many locals use to describe the site.
Gwaii Haanas - Gw-eye Haa-nass
Gwaii Haanas means "islands of beauty" in the Haïda language and is a UNESCO World Heritage site home to two dozen cedar totem poles that represent family and clan crests like eagle and bear; carved more than 100 years ago.
Kejimkujik – Ke-jim-koo-jik
The origin of the word "Kejimkujik" is undoubtedly Mi'kmaq, most likely meaning "lake of good spirits" or "lake of fairies".
Kluane - Kloo-wah-nee
The Southern Tutchone name for Kluane Lake is “Łù’àn Män” meaning "big fish lake". The coastal Tlingits, who were trading partners, called the area “ùxh-àni” meaning "whitefish country". The name 'Kluane' was derived from these two names by early settlers.
Nan Sdins was the name of the most powerful of the village's chiefs in the mid-19th century and came to be used as the village's name as a result of the practice of ship captains referring to villages by the name of the headman or chief at the location.
Algonquin, or Anicinabe, which means "men from this earth", occupy the territory for six millennia. For nearly two centuries, Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue was a theatre where English and French rivals fought to control the fur trade too. This important trading post on the shore of Lake Témiscamingue witnessed a stream of trappers arriving to sell their furs to merchants and traders who shipped them on to Europe.
Pukaskwa - Puk-a-saw
There are many spellings of the word "Pukaskwa" and many legends about the meaning of the word. Some contend that the word is descriptive terminology related to cleaning fish. Others suggest it could mean "eaters of fish", "something evil" or, in contrast, "safe harbour." Today, the word has become synonymous with the wild shoreline of Lake Superior known as Pukaskwa National Park.
Two centuries ago Indigenous Peoples and European traders shared this land on the rugged western frontier. Indigenous peoples, notably the Niitsitapi and the Piikani brought their furs to this very spot to trade with European explorers.
Saoyú-Ɂehdacho - Sahw-you Eh-da-choh
Saoyú and Ɂehdacho mean "Grizzly Bear Mountain" and "Scented Grass Hills" respectively. Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site celebrates the traditional lifestyles of the Sahtúgot’įnę – “the people of the Sahtú.”
Skmaqn is the Mi’kmaq word means “the waiting place”. The site's name was changed from Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst NHS to Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst NHS on February 16, 2018 to honour its historic and contemporary Indigenous connections.
Tallurutiup Imanga - Tal-loo-roo-tee-oop Ee-man-ga
Tallurutiup Imanga is an area that has been used since time immemorial by the Inuit. “Tallurutiup,” the Inuktitut term for Devon Island, represents the idea of a woman’s chin with tattoo marks, likely a reference to the appearance of certain streaks on the land. “Imanga” means a body of water.
Torngat Mountains National Park is the traditional homeland of the Inuit of Labrador and Nunavik. Inuit have traveled and lived among the deep fjords, towering mountains and wide valleys of this land for centuries, following the migratory paths of the whale, polar bear, and caribou.
Vuntut Gwitchin translates to “people of the lakes” – Gwitchin meaning people; Vuntut referring to Van Tat, the Old Crow Flats, a network of two thousand plus shallow lakes. For countless generations, the Vuntut Gwitchin have lived in the Old Crow Flats and Porcupine River areas in the northern Yukon.