The term First Nations came into common usage in the early 1980s to replace band or Indian, which some people found offensive (see Indian). Despite its widespread use, there is no legal definition for this term in Canada.
First Nations People – Many people prefer to be called First Nations or First Nations People instead of Indians. The term should not be used as a synonym for Aboriginal Peoples because it doesn’t include Inuit or Métis. Because the term First Nations People generally applies to both Status and Non-Status Indians, writers should take care in using this term. If they are describing a program that is only for Status Indian youth, for example, they should avoid using First Nations youth as it could cause confusion.
First Nation – Some communities have adopted First Nation to replace the term band. Many bands started to replace the word band in their name with First Nation in the 1980s. It is a matter of preference and writers should follow the choice expressed by individual First Nations/bands. The term First Nation is acceptable as both a noun and a modifier. When using the term as a modifier, the question becomes whether to use First Nation or First Nations. Note the different uses in the following examples. (plural modifier, plural noun) The number of First Nations students enrolled at Canadian universities and colleges has soared over the past 20 years. (singular modifier, plural noun) The association assists female First Nation entrepreneurs interested in starting home businesses. (plural modifier, singular noun) Containing recipes from across the country, the First Nations cookbook became an instant hit at church bazaars. (singular modifier, singular noun) Many people have said that North of 60 and The Rez were the only shows on television that depicted life in a First Nation community with any realism. There is no clear right or wrong in this area, provided that writers are consistent about the way they choose to use modifiers.