The Residential Schools Apology

On Wednesday June 11, 2008, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, made a Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools, on behalf of the Government of Canada.


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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.

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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]

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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”.

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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

This post was published in June 2015, and as of September 30, 2022, has been viewed 483,000+ times.

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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.

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The Indian Act Naming Policies

Photo: Unsplash

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.

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Potlatch Ban: Abolishment of First Nations Ceremonies

Joseph family potlatch. Photo: Domvile

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.

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Indian Act and the Right to Vote

Photo: A Disappearing Act, Flickr

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.

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Rick Mercer and the Indian Act

By Bob Joseph

There has been a lot of discussion of late on whether or not the Prime Minister of Canada is going to revamp the Indian Act. All the discussion reminded me of a clip from the Rick Mercer show earlier this year, following the January Crown - First Nations Gathering. 

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