Google unveiled the project on June 21, National Aboriginal Day in Canada. The company said the launch is the culmination of a seven-year collaboration between indigenous communities in Canada, mapping experts and Natural Resources Canada. The thousands of parcels of land that now show up on Google’s platforms reflect First Nations reserve lands as well as treaty settlement lands.
Tara Rush, who is from Akwesasne territory and works at Google Canada, wrote on Google Corporate blog:
Indigenous peoples are often underrepresented on Canadian base maps, and this was made apparent during our annual Indigenous Mapping Workshops. We are thrilled to see Google recognize Indigenous peoples by integrating Indigenous lands as an important fabric of Google’s base maps. We hope to continue to build partnerships and use available technologies to better support and represent Indigenous interests in Canada and abroad.
According to Statistics Canada in 2011, there are more than 600 First Nations/Indian bands in Canada and 3,100 Indian reserves across Canada, comprising 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi).
The move comes during Canada 150, a controversial celebration of the 150th anniversary of country’s founding , that has been resisted by several indigenous gropus as marking 150 years of colonialism.
The map is not all-inclusive still. Google expects to update the maps with details like the Algonquin lands in Ontario (on which Ottawa, the nation’s capital, sits) which could be an important way to acknowledge the historical nature of Canada’s geographic relationship with Indigenous peoples.