Sudbury·THE NEXT 40

Rising Indigenous population expected to transform northern Ontario in years ahead

Predicting the future of the Indigenous people of northern Ontario means guessing at the answers to some big questions.

The Next 40 is a CBC series imagining what northern Ontario could look like in 2058

A Canadian flag flies over the James Bay First Nation of Attawapiskat. (Erik White/CBC)

CBC is marking 40 years on the air here in northern Ontario.

Of course, the history of the region goes back much further than that. It goes back thousands of years to the first people to live among these rocks and trees.

With the budding national conversation about reconciliation and a general awakening of Indigenous communities across the country, it's an interesting moment to contemplate the future for Indigenous peoples of the north.

Unlike some other topics, it's tough to make predictions about the first peoples without first answering some big questions about Canada. 

Damien Lee, sociology professor Ryerson University: "The question becomes can Canada exist and be decolonized at the same time?"

Tom Flanagan, political scientist University of Calgary: "I think realistically the First Nations have no future in the modern world except as a cooperative part of Canada."

Brock Pitawanakwat, Indigenous studies professor University of Sudbury: "I really think that Sudbury will have strong Anishinaabe presence. It wouldn't even surprise me if we don't call this place Sudbury anymore."

Here more on this week's edition of the Next 40:


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to