Declaring Aboriginal Status

The University of Alberta is committed to the recruitment, retention and graduation of Aboriginal students and honours the Indigenous world view of education by respecting and supporting the voices and spirit of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. To increase the representation of Aboriginal students our policy is aimed at increasing accessibility and providing assistance to students in achieving their academic and personal goals.

For this purpose, and in order to improve the assessment of the educational achievement of Aboriginal learners, we ask you to self-identify if you are of Aboriginal ancestry within the meaning of the Canadian Constitutional Act of 1982.


Please note that some programs require proof of Aboriginal Status for admission purposes. Refer to Section 14.3 of the University of Alberta Calendar for details. If you have any questions regarding admissions, programs, funding, or services please contact us at


A collective name for the original peoples in Canada and their descendants. The Constitution Act, 1982 specifies that the Aboriginal peoples in Canada consist of three groups: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. Their common linkage is their indigenous ancestry.
First Nations
A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace "band" or "Indian," which some people found offensive. Despite its widespread use, there is no legal definition for this term in Canada. Among its uses, the term "First Nations peoples" refers to the Indian people in Canada, both Status and Non-Status. Many Indian people have also adopted the term "First Nation" to replace the word "band" in the name of their community.
First Nations: Bill C-3
December 15, 2010 Bill C-3: Gender Equality in Indian Registration Act amends provisions of the Indian Act. Bill C-3 ensures that eligible grand-children of women who lost their status as a result of marrying non-Indian men will be entitled to registration (Indian Status). As a result of this legislation, more than 45,000 individuals are newly entitled to registration.
First Nations: Bill C-31
The pre-legislation name of the 1985 Act to Amend the Indian Act. This Act eliminated certain discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, including the section that resulted in Indian women losing their Indian status when they married non-Indian men. Bill C-31 enabled people affected by the discriminatory provisions of the old Indian Act to apply to have their Indian status restored. Since 1985, about 105 000 individuals have successfully regained their status.
First Nations: Status
People who are entitled to have their names included on the Indian Register, an official list maintained by the federal government. Certain criteria determine who can be registered as a Status Indian. Only Status Indians are recognized as Indians under the Indian Act, which defines an Indian as "a person who, pursuant to this Act, is registered as an Indian or is entitled to be registered as an Indian." Status Indians are entitled to certain rights and benefits under the law.
The Aboriginal people of Arctic Canada. Inuit live primarily in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern parts of Labrador and Quebec. They have traditionally lived above the treeline in the area bordered by the Mackenzie Delta in the west, the Labrador coast in the east, the southern point of Hudson Bay in the south, and the High Arctic islands in the north. Inuit are not covered by the Indian Act. However, in 1939, the Supreme Court interpreted the federal government's power to make laws affecting "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians" as extending to Inuit. The word "Inuit" means "the people" in Inuktitut. The singular of Inuit is Inuk.

Métis are one of three Aboriginal Peoples, along with First Nations and Inuit, recognized in Canada's Constitution. The Métis people rose to prominence in the 19th century on the northern plains of what is now southern Manitoba centred around Red River (what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba). Their descendants live in communities stretching from northern Ontario, across the prairie provinces, eastern British Columbia and parts of the northwest territories.

Note: Métis organizations in Canada have differing criteria about who qualifies as a Métis person. There are formal mechanism by which Métis people can be registered, they are the provincial organizations and, since 2003, a single definition has been used. The different provincial affiliates have different levels of organizational infrastructure to follow that mandate.

A Non-Status Indian is a legal term referring to any First Nation individual who for whatever reason is not registered with the Federal government, and/or is not registered to a band which signed a Treaty with the Crown. Non-Status Indians are not entitled to the same rights and benefits available to Status Indians.

Meet a few U of A alumni who self-declared while they were students

Charis Auger, BA

Faculty of Native Studies
Bigstone Cree Nation

About Charis

Tansi! My name is Charis Auger and I am nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Cree Woman) from the Bigstone Cree Nation. I am currently completing my Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies with a certificate in Aboriginal Governance & Partnership.

My goals consist of completing my degree in 2017, so that I may honour the teachings that the late Marge Friedel gave me. I would also like to continue supporting the Woven Journeys Program at iHuman Youth Society.

One thing that makes me proud of the U of A is the Transitional Year Program (TYP). This program, along with First Peoples' House, has provided me with a support system that has brought me to where I am today.

I chose to self declare because I am teaching nikosis (my son) Pheonix to be proud of who he is.

In my second year of studies (when my son wasn't with me full time), I felt alone and wanted to quit. Luckily, a friend from class saw that I wasn't my "usual self" and asked if I wanted to go smudge at FPH. We did and while sitting there, she began to share a story with me and at the end of it she let me know that "friends are the family you choose". With that, I realized that FPH was and is my family. That is what FPH means to me, being a good relative. I have come a long way and would like to honour FPH for being there, every step of the way!

Billy-Ray Belcourt, PhD

Faculty of Arts
Driftpile Cree Nation

About Billy
I am a proud alumnus of the University of Alberta, partly because of the university's investment in making FNMI academic success possible. I self-declared not only because it is important to acknowledge the communities to which I belong, but also because I wanted to be part of a close-knit network of care built by FNMI students, staff, and faculty from across Turtle Island. The First Peoples' House, in particular, provided the resources and companionship that made the transition smoother and my time on campus memorable.
Derek Jagodzinsky, MDes

Masters in Industrial Design
Cree from Whitefish Lake First Nations

About Derek

It hadn't occurred to me not to declare my status as an Aboriginal student. My culture is such an important part of my identity and my work that it inseparable from who I am. I draw inspiration from my culture for my art and for my life every day.

My goal is to promote modern aboriginal design. I chose this program to help broaden my skills as a fashion designer and further develop my brand, Luxx ready-to-wear.

The U of A has a wealth of knowledge and skill base for me to learn. It has been a great place for me to experiment and grow as I try new things. I've essentially always done whatever I wanted and the U of A has been great for providing guidance and support.

First Peoples' House is a welcoming place for everybody, not just aboriginals. It has always been a place that encourages aboriginal identity and inclusiveness.

Austin Zacharko, BSc Eng

Faculty of Engineering

About Austin

It seemed trivial for me to declare my aboriginal status when applying to the University of Alberta (U of A). My entire life, being Métis has always been a part of who I am, and what I believe in. What I didn't realize, was that when I did self declare myself as Métis, I would be given an abundant amount of opportunities and resources that would aid in my education to become an Engineer.

The First Peoples' House at the U of A has not only given me resources and skills that have helped me succeed academically, such as printing and tutoring, but they have also helped me find and belong to the aboriginal community at the U of A. Living off campus, the FPH has allowed me to feel close to a family that supports and cares for me even when I am away from home.

Once I have completed my degree in Mechanical Engineering from the U of A I hope to help develop and provide a sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to create and use energy. This dream wouldn't even be possible without such an outstanding institution like the U of A, and the people at the FPH. For me, the U of A gives my hopes and dreams a reality. I believe that through the use of my knowledge attained from the U of A, and my connection to the environment, I can make a difference that will not only prevent the further destruction of our land but also allow future generations of aboriginal people to enjoy it as well.