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The inlets and valleys of the British Columbia Coast sheltered large, distinctive populations, such as the Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth, sustained by the region's abundant salmon and shellfish.
There are reports of contact made before the 1492 voyages of Christopher Columbus and the age of discovery between First Nations, Inuit and those from other continents.
Some of these older civilizations had long faded by the time of the first European arrivals and have been discovered through archaeological investigations.
Starting in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, colonized, and fought over various places within North America in what constitutes present-day Canada.
The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day.
Prior to European colonization, the lands encompassing present-day Canada were inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples, with distinct trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and styles of social organization.
Although responsible government had existed in Canada since 1848, Britain continued to set its foreign and defence policies until the end of the First World War.
The passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 recognized that Canada had become co-equal with the United Kingdom.
The Laurentian-related people of Ontario manufactured the oldest pottery excavated to date in Canada.
The Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) were centred from at least 1000 CE in northern New York, but their influence extended into what is now southern Ontario and the Montreal area of modern Quebec. In addition, there were other Iroquoian-speaking peoples in the area, including the St. On the Great Plains, the Cree or Nēhilawē (who spoke a closely related Central Algonquian language, the plains Cree language) depended on the vast herds of bison to supply food and many of their other needs.
To the northwest were the peoples of the Na-Dene languages, which include the Athapaskan-speaking peoples and the Tlingit, who lived on the islands of southern Alaska and northern British Columbia.
The colony of New France was established in 1534 and was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 after the French defeat in the Seven Years' War.
The now British Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791 and reunified in 1841.