First Canadians (02:59)
The Americas was the last territory early humanity expanded to after leaving Africa. Migration was possible because of a land mass between Siberia and Alaska.
Evidence of Ancient Life (05:01)
Archaeologist Claude Chapdelaine and his team have been excavating sites in Quebec for 15 years looking for signs of ancient civilizations. They have found spearheads from 12,000 years ago in a style only found in North America that originated from the Clovis people in modern-day New Mexico.
Caribou in Ancient Canada (02:26)
The Clovis spearheads helped the first Canadians survive in southern Quebec 12,000 years ago, which had recently been freed from an ice sheet. Migrating caribou would gather in the area on their way to their wintering grounds, which the nomadic hunters took advantage of.
Clovis First Theory (03:02)
New evidence disproves the belief that Clovis people crossed the land bridge form Sibera to Alaska traveling through a corridor in the ice sheet along the Rocky Mountains. There were humans in South America 1,000 years before the Clovis reached the Americas.
Path to the Americas (05:09)
Archaeologist Daryl Fedje has found evidence on the west coast of Canada that the first human could have arrived via a coastal route. A corridor could have opened along the Pacific Ocean and the edge of the ice sheet. Footprints preserved in clay on an island beach date to 13,000 years ago.
Early Coastal Inhabitants (04:26)
It is difficult to find evidence of early human life on the west coast because of changing coastlines and sea level changes. Fedje and his team used detailed maps to pinpoint possible sites and scan them using LIDAR. They excavated a forested site on Qudra Island that was once a coastal inlet.
Early Maritime Culture (02:43)
Evidence shows early humans used primitive boats and depended on the ocean for resources. The vast ocean eco-system would have helped the early inhabitants' survival.
Ancient DNA (05:01)
Anthropological geneticist Dennis O'Rourke has been studying ancient genetic material to determine who the first Canadians were. O'Rourke has found that most native populations in North America derive from the same ancestral lineage in Asia.
Ancient Genetic Lineages (04:29)
By looking at genetic mutations and variability, O'Rourke has theorized some people continued to live on the land bridge and were isolated by the last ice age. The period of isolation could have created a new genetic lineage that led to the Native American genome.
Ancient Environment (02:04)
Geneticists have also been studying plant and animal DNA to determine what the landscape of early North America would have been like. Early southern migration was most likely along the west coast as the interior would have mostly uninhabitable.
Northern Migration (06:22)
The first humans in the Americas explored all of modern-day America before heading north into modern-day Canada. They moved along the coast of the Arctic Ocean from Alaska to Greenland after the land was freed from the ice age. The Pre-Dorset people are one of the first known inhabitants of the Canadian Arctic region.
Arctic Site (01:58)
Archaeologist Pierre Desrosiers and a team from McGill University found a 2,000-year-old site in the Canadian Arctic. It contained Dorest period artifacts, tools, and a figurine craved from a walrus tusk.
Canadian Arctic Populations (05:10)
The area was first inhabited by the Pre-Dorest and Dorest people, but they disappeared a few thousand years after arrival. The Thule people migrated to the area from the Bering Strait about 800 years ago and are ancestors to the modern Inuit people.
Credits: First Canadians (01:05)
Credits: First Canadians
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