Indian Act and Elected Chief and Band Council System

The first thing to know about the Indian Act electoral process is that if you are chief or council, you are elected by your people, but you are accountable to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Ever since the arrival of the colonizers and the imposition of their governance systems throughout Canada, the Aboriginal peoples have resisted and struggled to reconstitute their traditional forms of political representation and governance practices, to maintain control of their own affairs, and to have governments be accountable to them. [1]

As stated in the quote above, the imposition of the Indian Act electoral system undermined a tradition of self-governance that had existed effectively for thousands of years. The imposed system displaced traditional political structures and did not reflect, consider or honour First Nation needs or values. It also did not recognize that each Nation had its own style of governance with specialized skills, tools, authority and capacity developed over centuries. It was designed for assimilation – to remake traditional cultures in the image of the colonizers.

Read More

Indian Act and the Pass System

“No rebel Indians should be allowed off the Reserves without a pass signed by an I.D. official.The dangers of complications with white men will thus be lessened & by preserving a knowledge of individual movements any inclination to petty depredations may be checked by the facility of apprehending those who commit such offences.” [1]

Read More

Indian Act and the Permit System

This article is part of our series on the Indian Act and the many restrictions historically imposed on First Nations as a means of controlling them and assimilating them into European culture. Or, in the words of John A. Macdonald “to do away with the Indian problem”.

Read More

21 Things You May Not Have Known About The Indian Act

"The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.” - John A Macdonald, 1887

  • Since publication in June 2015, this article has had 380,000+ views. - September 2020
Read More

8 First Nation reserve FAQs

A First Nation reserve is a tract of land set aside under the Indian Act and treaty agreements for the exclusive use of an Indian band (First Nation). Earliest examples of reserves date back to attempts by French missionaries in 1637 to encourage Aboriginal Peoples to settle in one spot and embrace both agriculture and Christianity. As more and more Europeans settled in Canada and on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples, it became apparent to the authorities that an effective means to ensuring the most fertile land was available to European farmers was needed. The development of the reserve system met this need.

Read More

Matrimonial Real Property Act

How long do you think First Nations have been fighting against inequitable treatment of First Nation women by federal government laws and policies? ........At least since 1869 and likely back to 1867 with the passage of the British North America Act [1] and Section 91.24 when the Federal Government gained control of Indians and Lands reserved for Indians.

Read More

The Indian Act Naming Policies

The federal government’s Indian Act policies for Indians or First Nation(s) people during the nineteenth century were primarily concerned with assimilation. One aspect of the assimilation process was the renaming of the entire First Nation population, partly to extinguish traditional ties and partly because Euro-Canadians found many of the names confusing, difficult to pronounce and went against assimilation objectives - it was feared that leaving them with their traditional names would take away the motivation to assimilate.

Read More

Potlatch Ban: Abolishment of First Nations Ceremonies

 When the British North America (BNA) Act was passed in 1867, Canada became a country but remained a colony of the British Empire. The BNA Act provided the basic governmental structures and laws by which Canada would govern its peoples. One section in particular - section 91(24) - defined the relationship between the government and Aboriginal Peoples, echoes of which continues to define the relationship to this day.

Read More

Indian Act and the Right to Vote

The right to vote, which most Canadians take for granted, was a hard fought battle for Indigenous Peoples. In most parts of Canada, First Nations were offered the right to vote at the time of Confederation - but only if they gave up their treaty rights and Indian status. Understandably, few were willing to do this. Métis People were not excluded from voting as few were covered by treaties, therefore there was nothing to justify disqualifying them. Inuit were excluded and no steps were taken to include them as most communities were geographically isolated so in the absence of special efforts to enable them to vote, they had no means of exercising the right.

Read More

Rick Mercer and the Indian Act

By Bob Joseph

Read More

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., provides information on this blog for free as a resource for those seeking information about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Readers looking for more detailed information, or who have questions, can sign up for our fee-for-service training. Also, ICT encourages everyone who reads this information to use their best judgment given their own circumstances, vulnerabilities, and needs, and to contact a consulting or legal professional if you have more specific questions. Join the conversation over on our Linkedin page.