Public Works and Government Services Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Institutional Links

 
Search

4.11 Races, languages and peoples

Capitalize nouns and adjectives referring to race, tribe, nationality and language:

  • Amerindian
  • Anglophone
  • Arabic
  • Caucasian
  • Cree
  • Francophone
  • French
  • Indian
  • Inuk (plural: Inuit)
  • Métis

Do not capitalize the word allophone, which refers to a person whose first language is neither English nor French and which is used with specific reference to Quebec.

The form of some words may vary depending on the meaning:

  • Highlander (inhabitant of the Scottish Highlands)
    • highlander (inhabitant of any highland area)
  • Aborigine (one of the indigenous peoples of Australia)
    • aborigine (indigenous inhabitant of a region)
  • Pygmy (member of a group of African peoples)
    • pygmy (small in stature; insignificant)

Capitalize the singular and plural forms of the nouns Status Indian, Registered Indian, Non-Status Indian and Treaty Indian, as well as the terms Aboriginal, Native and Indigenous when they refer to Aboriginal people in Canada.

The terms Aboriginals and Natives are not used as proper nouns. When Aboriginal, Indigenous and Native are used as adjectives, note the following noun forms:

  • Aboriginal person (one individual)
  • Aboriginal persons, Aboriginal people (more than one person)
  • Aboriginal peoples (two or more Aboriginal groups)
  • Representatives from three Aboriginal peoples were present.
  • Any Native person in Alberta is eligible under this program.
  • The conference could not have succeeded without the help of almost a thousand Indigenous people from all over Saskatchewan.

For further information on the representation of Aboriginal (Native) peoples in written communications, see Chapter 14 Elimination of Stereotyping in Written Communications.

14.12 Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Stereotyping, Identification of groups

Be aware of the current self-identification preferences of racial and cultural groups in Canada:

  • Black(s) not Negro(es)
  • ethnic (or cultural) minorities not ethnics
  • Aboriginal person not Aboriginal
  • Aboriginal people(s) in Canada not Aboriginal Canadians
  • Native people(s) not Natives
  • Inuk (singular), Inuit (plural) not Eskimo
  • Métis not Metis

Note that the term African American is gaining currency in the U.S.A.

Note also that the terms used to designate the Indigenous peoples of Canada have undergone considerable change in recent years. Although the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, uses the term aboriginal peoples in the lower case, the words Aboriginal, Indigenous and Native have since come to be capitalized when used in the Canadian context. The terms currently preferred are the following:

  • Aboriginal people(s)
  • Native people(s)
  • Indigenous people(s)
  • First people(s)