Vikings were probably the first Europeans to reach Canada. They landed in about 1000, but they did not stay. John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) was an Italian-English explorer. In 1497, he sailed from England, looking for a westerly route to Asia. When he landed in Canada, he thought he was in Asia. The French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed up the St Lawrence River in 1534. France and England formed colonies in Canada. They were often at war with each other. France was defeated and the French colonies became British. Native Indians and Inuits were living in Canada thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. Some died from European diseases and some lost their land to the settlers. In 1867, the British colonies were joined to form the Dominion of Canada. This became independent in 1931.
About 58 per cent of Canadians are of British or French origin. French-speaking Canadians live mainly in the province of Québec. Some of them want Québec to be an independent country. The Inuit live mainly in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and the new area called Nunavut, which means ‘our land’. They are no longer nomadic. Most of them live in houses in settlements. They use electricity and travel on snowmobiles. They buy clothes and food in shops. Some have paid jobs. The children go to school. But the Inuit still hunt and keep many of their traditions. They are famous for their soapstone sculpture. Many native Indians live on reservations. Some still live by hunting and fishing. Native Indians on the west coast are famous for their carved totem poles.