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The term “Proto Pygmies” refers  for any reports of one- to four-foot bipedal primates. There are many names for them, called Bagwajiwini by the Anishinaabe (Ontario), Mannegeshi by the Cree of (Western Ontario/Manitoba), and the Mikumwesu by the Maliseet (New Brunswick).

Many encounters of proto pygmies in Canada occur in the temperate rainforests of British Columbia. They also allegedly live in the Rocky Mountains and even the arctic. The Indigenous peoples tend to also think of them as more of a magical or supernatural creature. They are social, living in small groups of three to ten and are very agile, often described as climbing trees similar to a monkey. Many “juvenile bigfoot” stories may be misidentified proto-pygmies. Some native legends describe them as smart enough to make canoes, clothes and smoke pipes, suggesting they’re more hominin then hominid.

In 1630, explorer Captain Luke Fox found a “burial site” of four foot tall skeletons on Baffin Island. In 1987, a boy on the Lake Helen reserve claimed to have seen a proto-pygmy run past him while he was building a tree house several kilometres from highway 11. On September 8th, 1988 a man named Mike was on a caribou hunt in a very remote region of northern British Columbia with his friend Herb. Mike claimed to have seen a reddish-brown ape-like animal standing on the branch of a tree. The animal seemed unaware of him, so he whistled to get a reaction. It started vigorously bobbing its head and jumped from the branch, landing on the ground on two legs. It stood there flailing its arms as if to scare Mike before it gave up and ran away. It was 4.5 ft tall with a shiny coat. On the Maliseet Nation, an isolated town located in the remote Aroostook/Madawaska region on the New Brunswick/Maine border, an elder looked out her window and saw two Geoludmosiseg seemingly trying to make a fire.

In 2017, an Inuk man, Anthony Roche and his girlfriend, were visiting her grandmother in the outskirts of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. While Roche was visiting, he and his girlfriend both woke up to the sound of footsteps on the deck, which they assumed was the grandmother, because she was the only other person for kilometres in any direction. Roche then stood closer for a better view and saw “the smallest and hairiest person I've ever seen”, wearing a ragged old caribou skin coat. Suddenly, the doors slammed shut by presumably another “little person” just out of view. According to Inuit folklore, they saw a Inuagulik.

Illustration by Philippe Coudray
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