The Mi'kmaq are the founding people of Nova Scotia and remain the predominant Aboriginal group within the province. When the Mi'kmaq first encountered Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, their territory stretched from the southern portions of the Gaspé Peninsula eastward to most of modern-day New Brunswick, and all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
This area was divided into seven smaller territories across what was known as Mi'kma'ki. Today, the Mi'kmaq live throughout the province. Nova Scotia has 13 Mi'kmaq First Nations with community populations ranging from 240 in the Annapolis Valley First Nation to 3,988 in the Eskasoni First Nation. In total, there are 13,518 registered Indians in Nova Scotia and of these, 4,752 live off-reserve. The Registered Indian population in Nova Scotia is represented through a series of 13 band councils and two tribal councils, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq and the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. The Union of Nova Scotia Indians tribal council represents the five First Nation communities within Cape Breton (We'koqma'q, Wagmatcook, Membertou, Eskasoni, and Chapel Island First Nations) along with two First Nations located in mainland Nova Scotia (Indian Brook and Acadia First Nations). The remaining six communities are represented by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq (Bear River, Annapolis Valley, Glooscap, Millbrook, Paq'tnkek, and Pictou Landing First Nations).
Other Aboriginal organizations include the Native Council of Nova Scotia which provides a range of services, primarily to Aboriginal people living off-reserve and the Native Women's Association which provides Aboriginal women with a voice in the social, cultural and economic development of the Aboriginal community.