Indigenous place names

Indigenous Peoples’ long-standing relationships with, and sacred responsibilities for, the lands, waters and ice have shaped their identities and influenced their cultures and languages for millennia. Many Indigenous place names have been replaced by colonial names through practices and policies, including some aimed at erasing Indigenous Peoples, their cultures, and languages. By supporting the reclamation of Indigenous place names and the use of Indigenous languages in the sites it plays a role in administering, Parks Canada is taking steps toward reconciliation. 

Explore Indigenous language names in places Parks Canada helps administer. Learn more about the words, their meaning, and the Peoples who speak them.

Ivvavik National Park


Ivvavik – Eev-vah-veek

Ivvavik means "a place for giving birth, a nursery" in Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit, the Inuit of the Western Arctic.

Visit Ivvavik National Park

Kluane National Park and Reserve


Kluane - Clue-ah-knee

The Southern Tutchone name for Kluane Lake is “Łù’àn Män” meaning “big fish lake.” Coastal Tlingits, who were trading partners, called the area “ùxh-àni” meaning “whitefish country.” The name Kluane was derived from these two names by early settlers.

Visit Kluane National Park and Reserve

Place name restoration at Kluane

Vuntut National Park


Vuntut - Voon-tuht

Vuntut Gwitchin translates to “people of the lakes” – Gwitchin meaning people; Vuntut referring to Van Tat, the Old Crow Flats, a network of two thousand plus shallow lakes. For countless generations, Vuntut Gwitchin have lived in the Old Crow Flats and Porcupine River areas in the northern Yukon.

Visit Vuntut National Park

Aulavik National Park

Northwest Territories

Aulavik – Owla-vik

Aulavik, meaning “place where people travel” in Inuvialuktun, protects more than 12,000 square kilometres of arctic lowlands on the north end of Banks Island. The park encompasses a variety of landscapes from fertile river valleys to polar deserts, buttes and badlands, rolling hills, and bold seacoasts.

Visit Aulavik National Park

A man and a women sit in front of a lake while steam raises in front of them from a pot with a large mountain directly across.

Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve

Northwest Territories

Nááts’ihch’oh – NAT-chee-oh

The expression “Nááts’ihch’onOh” in the Shúhtagot’ine language refers to the mountain’s unique jagged shape and sharp peak resembling the spine of a porcupine.

Visit Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve

Place name restoration at Nááts’įhch’oh

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Northwest Territories

Nahanni – na-HAN-nee

Home of Dehcho First Nations, whose ancestors have called Nah?ą Dehé home since time before memory.

Visit Nahanni National Park Reserve

Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site

Northwest Territories

Saoyú-Ɂehdacho - Sahw-you Eh-da-choh

Saoyú and Ɂehdacho mean “Grizzly Bear Mountain” and “Scented Grass Hills” respectively. Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site celebrates the traditional lifestyles of the Sahtúgot’įnę – “the people of the Sahtú.”

Visit Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site

Tuktut Nogait National Park

Northwest Territories

Tuktut Nogait – Took-toot Noo-guy-it

Tuktut Nogait means "young caribou" in Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit. The name refers to a young caribou from the time it drops, wobbly-footed, on the tundra, until roughly one year of age. One of the purposes for the park’s establishment was the protection of Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East caribou herds.

Visit Tuktut Nogait National Park

Auyuittuq National Park


Auyuittuq - Ow-you-eet-took

The Inuktitut word “auyuittuq” means “the land that never melts.” Auyuittuq epitomizes the majestic beauty of the Arctic. Imposing landscape of jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys, perpetual ice and fjords with vertical walls symbolize the Inuit belief that time is eternal.

Visit Auyuittuq National Park

Three indigenous men wearing fur coats, standing in front of a snow machine, in the arctic tundra.

Qausuittuq National Park


Qausuittuq - Kow-soo-ee-took

One of Canada’s newest national parks, Qausuittuq means “place where the sun doesn’t rise” in Inuktitut, in reference to the fact that the sun stays below the horizon for several months in the winter at this latitude.

Visit Qausuittuq National Park

Quttinirpaaq National Park


Quttinirpaaq - Koo-tin-ir-pa-ak

In Inuktitut, “Quttinirpaaq” means “highest,” “way up there” or “top of the world.” This is fitting, as Quttinirpaaq is the northernmost national park in Canada.

Visit Quttinirpaaq National Park

Sirmilik National Park


Sirmilik – Seer-mee-leek

In Inuktitut Sirmilik means “place of glaciers,” as it represents Bylot Island’s plethora of glaciers and ice caps.

Visit Sirmilik National Park

Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area


Tallurutiup Imanga - Tal-loo-roo-tee-oop Ee-man-ga

Tallurutiup Imanga is an area that has been used since time immemorial by the Inuit. “Tallurutiup,” the Inuktitut term for Devon Island, represents the idea of a woman’s chin with tattoo marks, likely a reference to the appearance of certain streaks on the land. “Imanga” means a body of water.

Visit Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area

Ukkusiksalik National Park


Ukkusiksalik - Oo-koo-sik-sa-lik

Ukkusiksalik is an Inuktitut term meaning “place where there is stone to carve pots and oil lamps.” The park is a landscape alive with the stories of generations of Inuit, abundant wildlife, and striking vistas.

Visit Ukkusiksalik National Park

Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site

British Columbia

Gitwangak – Git-wan-gaa

Gitwangak means “people of the place of rabbits.” Gitwangak is the correct Gitsenimx language spelling of the name of the First Nation that built the fort in the 18th century. Battle Hill is the name many locals use to describe the site.

Visit Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

British Columbia

Gwaii Haanas - Gw-eye Haa-nus

Gwaii Haanas means “islands of beauty” in Xaayda Kil, the Skidegate based dialect of the Haida language. A Haida homeland, Gwaii Haanas is steeped in natural beauty and spirituality. This is a place where the land, sea, and people have always been connected; Gina ‘waadlux̱an gud ad kwaagid: everything depends on everything else.

An archipelago situated off the north Pacific coast, Gwaii Haanas is known for its diverse ecosystems, distinct flora and fauna, living Haida culture, and cooperative management model.

Visit Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Learn about and how to pronounce the Haida guiding principles that guide all management decisions in Gwaii Haanas

Place name restoration at Gwaii Haanas

SMONEĆTEN Campground – Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

British Columbia

SMONEĆTEN – smah-nitch-tin

In 2021, W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and Gulf Islands National Park Reserve collaborated to rename McDonald Campground. The new name, in the W̱SÁNEĆ language, means “place of pitch.”

Visit SMONEĆTEN campground

Batoche National Historic Site


François-Xavier Letendré dit Batoche was an astute entrepreneur and considered the founder of the Métis settlement along the South Saskatchewan River. The Métis community of Batoche became known by his name when, in 1872, Xavier opened a ferry crossing and built a store at this location.

Historical documents indicate the name “Batoche” was a secondary surname given to men in the Letendré French Métis family during the 18th century. It is unclear exactly what “Batoche” meant as a secondary surname but it is thought to be either a derivative of Baptême (Baptism), a minor cuss word or oath of French-Canadian dialect. By Xavier’s time, Batoche had become somewhat of a family nickname.

Batoche National Historic Site commemorates the history of the Métis community of Batoche, home of Métis culture and heritage, as well as the armed conflict between the Canadian government and the Métis provisional government in 1885.

Visit Batoche National Historic Site

Wapusk National Park


Wapusk – Wah-puhsk

Wapusk is the Cree word for "white bear," and as the meaning indicates, the 11,475-square-kilometre (4,430 sq mi) park protects one of the world's largest known polar bear maternity denning areas.

Visit Wapusk National Park

Indigenous man dressed in black with a colourful necklace plays his traditional drum in front of a fire.

Pukaskwa National Park


Pukaskwa - Puk-a-saw

There are many spellings of the word “Pukaskwa” and many stories about the meaning of the word. Some contend that the word is descriptive terminology related to cleaning fish. Others suggest it could mean “eaters of fish,” “something evil” or, in contrast, “safe harbour.” Today, the word has become synonymous with the wild shoreline of Lake Superior known as Pukaskwa National Park.

Visit Pukaskwa National Park

Obadjiwan-Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site


Obadjiwan – o-BAD-gee-wan

Obadjiwan means “the strait where the current flows” in Anishinabemowin, the language of the people who have called this site home for more than 6,000 years. It is a burial site for Ancestors of the Timiskaming First Nation. For nearly two centuries, Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue was also a theatre where English and French rivals fought to control the fur trade. This trading post was where trappers came to sell their furs to merchants and traders who shipped them on to Europe.

Visit Obadjiwan-Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site

Indigenous woman wearing fancy shawl, dancing in the green grass in front of large Wigwam.

Kouchibouguac National Park

New Brunswick

Kouchibouguac – Koo-she-boo-gwak

Kouchibouguac, meaning “river of long tides” in Mi’kmaq, is where fresh and salt water meet.

Visit Kouchibouguac National Park

Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Nova Scotia

Kejimkujik – Ke-jim-koo-jik

The origin of the word “Kejimkujik” is undoubtedly Mi’kmaq, most likely meaning “lake of good spirits” or “lake of fairies.”

Visit Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Skmaqn - Port-la-Joye - Fort Amherst National Historic Site

Prince Edward Island

Skmaqn – Skah-MAH-kin

Skmaqn is a Mi’kmaq word meaning “the waiting place.” The site’s name was changed to add Skmaqn in 2018 to honour its historic and contemporary Indigenous connections.

Visit Skmaqn - Port-la-Joye - Fort Amherst National Historic Site

Akami-Uapishkᵁ-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve

Newfoundland and Labrador

Akami-Uapishkᵁ-KakKasuak – Ekami-whapiskᵘ Kak-Ka-suak

The traditional names of Mealy Mountains are Akami-Uapishkᵁ, an Innu word meaning “White Mountains across” and KakKasuak, a Labrador Inuit word for mountain. For Innu, Inuit, and others, the landscapes of this outstanding natural region hold great cultural significance.

Visit Akami-Uapishkᵁ-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve

Indigenous man in a green ball hat sitting next to an inukshuk gazing at the adjacent mountains.

Torngat Mountains National Park

Newfoundland and Labrador

Torngat – Torn-gaht

Torngat Mountains National Park is the traditional homeland of Inuit of Labrador and Nunavik. Its name comes from the Inuit word Torngait, meaning “place where the spirits dwell.” Inuit have traveled and lived among the deep fjords, towering mountains and wide valleys of this land for centuries, following the migratory paths of the whale, polar bear, and caribou.

Visit Torngat Mountains National Park

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