Reserves are areas of land set aside for First Nations people to occupy at the discretion of the government, the government decided who was eligible to live here, and the people on these reserves became “status”.
From Robert Muckle’s book, The First Nations of BC an anthropological overview:
Considering both registered and non-status Indians, there are over 200,000 peoples across 203 bands in BC. Two thirds of these people live off-reserve, and 81 percent of those living in urban areas. The spread of these people in density is very similar to the population density of all people in BC. The areas with the highest aboriginal density are cities including Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Kelowna, and Abbotsford, in that order. “More than half of the First Nation’s populations live in southwestern BC…” The regions along the central and northern coast of BC in particular have the greatest population percentage of First Nations, in some places accounting for over 60 percent of a regions population. For perspective, First Nations account for only two percent of the population in the Greater Vancouver area, where the greatest concentration of first nations can be found.
There are thirty to forty major ethnic groups in BC, with continually changing distinctions. The context of an ethnic group is their shared language, territory and culture. Anthropologists and associated First Nations people working with them find it difficult to clarify traditional groupings and territories. “…historical records offer contradictory information, Euro-Canadians have often misunderstood languages and organizations, many First Nations have been known by a variety of names and disagree among themselves about terminology, and there are no consistent criteria for distinguishing the groups. As a result, there is no consensus on the number and names of major ethnic groups, let alone on territorial boundaries.” (Muckle)
Muckle, Robert James. The First Nations of British Columbia: An Anthropological Overview. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Vancouver: UBC, 2014. Print.