Being a professional photographer, I commonly get asked what cameras I would recommend to people who want to get into photography. As you can tell by the title, unless you're an idiot, we use Nikon cameras. I'll explain why in a minute.
The first few cameras I set my hands were Canon. This wasn't necessarily by choice as they either belonged to friends or family but it allowed me to pick up photography really quickly without costing me anything. They are great for learning photography as they have a simple layout and it's easy to change the settings which is what you need when you're learning about things like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed etc.
The Nikon vs Canon argument is a load of rubbish, it's just preference. Don't let the brand be the reason you buy a particular camera as it doesn't mean anything. I've always compared it to Mac vs PC with Canon being Mac (user friendly, trusted and bloody expensive) and Nikon being PC (you get more for your money but's not as easy to use at first).
What I realised early on is that it's not the camera body that makes the picture, it's the lens. So when it came to the time of buying my own camera for professional work, I didn't just look at camera bodies but purchases I wanted to make in the future to go with the camera like lenses, flashes etc. I soon noticed that Nikon bodies and attachments were cheaper meaning I could get a much better camera combination for my money. I ended up purchasing a Nikon D7100 and a 50mm 1.8 lens.
This was a difficult transition at first but with time, my photography improved and I haven't looked back since. Here is one of my pictures from the first day I got this camera.
Average, I know (the picture is average, not my wife and son).
Here's another picture of the same amazing people but a couple of months later. Same camera, different lens.
When you come to purchasing your first camera, go to a shop and try a few different brands, think about your budget and pick a camera that works best for you. I'm hoping to buy a Fujifilm TX-2 soon for personal use so as I said, brand doesn't mean a thing.