In 1500, there were about 70 000 Algonquians in Eastern Canada. By comparing the size of the territory they occupied and their numbers, we can imagine they were scattered across their lands. It is difficult to know exactly how many Algonquian people there were. Why? Because they did not do censuses as we do today or as the Incas in South America did at that time.

A group of clans

The Algonquians were Indigenous peoples who shared similar languages, but who did not form a single, united group. Several soverign nations made and continue to make up the Algonquian language family. The nations that belonged to the Algonquian people often had similar languages, habits, way of life, however, each nation has and continues to have its distinct histories and culture. In general, each nation was made up of a few bands, which were groups of 35 to 75 people from two or three families. Around 2020, the following Nations that belong to the Algonquian language family have communities in Quebec: the W8banaki(Abenaki), the Algonquin (Anishinabeg), the Atikamekw, the Eeyou (Cree), the Innu, the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk (Maliseet), the Mi’kmaq, and the Naskapi Nations.

Note: We have tried to use the self-identified names of Indigenous Nations with communities in province Quebec. The name(s) that English and French settlers have used to refer to members of each Nation are in brackets. We encourage you to use and teach others the self-identified names of Indigenous Nations.

Important concepts & Big ideas

Population – Population
Population density – Densité de population
Territory – Territoire
Census – Recensement
Clan or Clan System – – Système de clans
Nation – Nation
Language family – Famille de langues
Nomad – Nomad


Connect the Facts Game


Quickly check your knowledge: