Google Maps and Google Earth now shows over 3,000 Indigenous Lands in Canada, in what is being called “an essential step in accurately reflecting Canada to Canadians and to the world,” explains Tara Rush, Kanien’kehá:ka from Akwesasne, Canadian Googler based at Google Kitchener-Waterloo, in a company blog post.
Sanikiluaq, 2015, mapping activity with the Inuit community of Sanikiluaq. Raleigh Seamster, from the Google Outreach Team, is in the background.
Rush said this was a seven-year collaborative project amongst Indigenous communities across the country, along with Google Earth Outreach. Since 2014, despite leading numerous mapping workshops with Indigenous communities across the country, lands weren’t showing up in Google Maps, so she set out to “make it happen”.
With the assistance of Steven DeRoy, an Anishinaabe cartographer and director of Firelight Research Inc, they helped include reserves and settlement lands within Google platforms like Maps and Earth.
“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,” said DeRoy.
Indigenous communities can update or add to maps data easily if they wish, through the Base Map Partner Program, while individual users can use the Send Feedback tool to add and edit information within Google Maps.
According to Stats Canada, there are over 1.4 million people self-identifying as First Nations, Métis or Inuit, with 600 bands living on 3100 reserves and in urban centres nationwide.