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The Algonquin language is at the base of the larger Algonquian linguistic group. As with the
Ojibway and Cree languages,
also of Algonquian stock, and Inuktitut, Algonquin is among those rare Native languages
in North America with a very good chance of surviving and even progressing in the future. Today, more than 60% of the total Algonquin population in Quebec speak their language.
The name Algonquin developed out of the terms used to speak about a certain method of fishing, and can be interpreted as meaning "from where we harpoon fish and eel."
The population of the Algonquin Nation in Quebec is estimated at 7,980 people, with roughly 4,490 residents in one or the other of the nine Algonquin communities.
Recorded documents from the beginning of the European presence in North America indicate that the Algonquins use to live along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. Historical circumstances led them to make their present-day home in the Abitibi-Timiskiming and Outaouais regions.
It is an understatement, but, as was the case for most aboriginal peoples, Algonquin society was greatly affected by the arrival of the Europeans on their ancestral lands. Part of the Algonquin response to this situation was to retreat farther and farther inland, to the less occupied areas of what were to become known as Quebec and Ontario. The nine communities now established in southwestern Quebec include Abitibiwinni, Barriere Lake, Eagle Village (Kipawa), Kitcisakik, Kitigan Zibi, Lac-Simon, Long Point, Timiskaming, and Wolf Lake. There are also two communities in neighboring Ontario: Golden Lake and Wahgoshig.
Each community has its own band council for the administration of local affairs. From 1980 to 1991, the Algonquin Council of Western Quebec represented the collective political interests of all the communities in the province. Two organizations have since grown out of this association, in order to handle the shared interests of specific communities. Abitibiwinni, Eagle Village (Kipawa), Kitigan Zibi, Lac-Simon and Long Point are part of the Council of the Anishinabeg Algonquin Nation. Three other communities, Barriere Lake, Timiskaming, and Wolf Lake are associated in the Algonquin Nation Programs and Services Secretariat. Kitcisakik, the only remaining nomadic people of any native community in Quebec, has a band council but is not part of either regrouping of the Algonquin Nation in Quebec.
The Algonquin Development Association was created in 1991, to play a part in the economic improvement of certain communities. The Maticieeia Society has the same role in terms of cultural development and the promotion of the Algonquin language.
Tom Rankin - Elder
William Comanda, Elder
Simon Brascoupé - Artist
John Chabot - National Hockey League Player
Gino Odjick - National Hockey League Player