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Indigenous Studies & Resources

The Indian Act

Compiled by Molly Burke

The Indian Act was a series of laws put in place by the Canadian government to control First Nation peoples’ status and rights. It affects First Nation people but not Metis and Inuit. The Indian act is still present in Canada today, although some of the more discriminatory aspects of the act have been repealed. The Indian Act has caused intergenerational trauma for many First Nations people.

Some of the discriminatory laws created by the Indian Act included:

  • Denying women status if they married a non-Indigenous person. This means that a First Nations woman and her children were no longer considered First Nations by the government and lost access to rights and services provided to First Nations people
  • Introduced and governed residential schools
  • Created Reserves and restricted First Nation people from leaving their Reserves without an Indian agents permission
  • Denied First Nations the right to speak their traditional language and practice their cultural traditions
  • Renamed the people with with European names
  • Denied First Nations people the right to vote

References & Websites

Indigenous Corporate Training. (2015) 21 Things You May Not Have Known About The Indian Act.