21 Things About The Indian Act That Will Blow Your Mind


“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

Many laws affecting Aboriginal Peoples were combined in 1876 to become the Indian Act. The Act gave Canada a coordinated approach to Indian policy rather than the pre-Confederation piece-meal approach.

The Indian agent, acting under the authority of the Indian Act, played a key role in the distribution of land, replacing traditional names for “easier” identification and altering traditional and hereditary forms of government, among other actions and restrictions.

The Indian Act has been a lightning rod for criticism and controversy over the years, widely attacked by First Nations people and communities for its regressive and paternalistic excesses. For example, Indians living on reserves don’t own the land they live on; assets on reserve are not subject to seizure under legal process making it extremely difficult to borrow money to purchase assets; and, matrimonial property laws don’t apply to assets on reserve. On the other hand, it has also been widely attacked by non-Aboriginal Peoples and politicians as being too paternalistic and creating an unjust system with excessive costs that are considered uneconomical.
Here are some of the restrictions and impacts imposed on First Nations since then (some have since been removed in revisions of the Act).

The Indian Act:

1. denied women status

2. introduced residential schools

3. introduced reserves

4. renamed individuals with European names

5. forbade First Nations from leaving reserve without permission from Indian Agent

6. could remove First Nations from reserves near towns with more than 8,000 people

7. could expropriate portions of reserves for roads, railways and other public works, as well as to move an entire reserve away from a municipality if it was deemed expedient

8. could lease out uncultivated reserve lands to non-First Nations if the new leaseholder would use it for farming or pasture

9. forbade First Nations from forming political organizations

10. prohibited anyone, First Nation or non-First Nation, from soliciting funds for First Nation legal claims without special license from the Superintendent General. (this 1927 amendment granted the government control over the ability of First Nations to pursue land claims)

11. prohibited the sale of alcohol to First Nations

12. prohibited sale of ammunition to First Nations

13. prohibited pool hall owners from allowing First Nations entrance

14. imposed the “band council” system

15. forbade First Nations from speaking their native language

16. forbade First Nations from practicing their traditional religion

17. forbade western First Nations from appearing in any public dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant wearing traditional regalia

18. declared potlatch and other cultural ceremonies illegal

19. denied First Nations the right to vote

20. denied First Nations the right to sell products from farms

21. it is the only legislation in the world designed for a particular race of people.

Major amendments were made to the Act in 1951 and 1985. In the 1951 amendments, the banning of dances and ceremonies, and the pursuit of claims against the government were removed. In the 1985, Bill C-31C-31 was introduced. For more on this Bill, please see “Indian Act and Women’s Status – Discrimination via Bill C31 and Bill C3”

The Indian Act imposed great personal and cultural tragedy on First Nation, many of which continue to affect communities, families and individuals today.

This is a repost from http://www.ictinc.ca/blog/21-things-you-may-not-have-known-about-the-indian-act-

It seems to be overloaded and the link breaks so I have added this mirror to my page. Please take the time to visit the authors of this article.

Lightfinder Review – John Richardson

John Richardson is an artist I admire. He has the heartbeat and pulse of the arts scene in Edmonton and his work is always thoughtful, clever, deeply intelligent and of course, beautiful. He has made art not only his profession, but his life. He is an incredible father.

He also knows how to write, and to my utter astonishment and gratitude, he has chosen to spend some of that on my little book, Lightfinder.

And so, an excerpt and a link:

“Lightfinder by artist Aaron Paquette is a stunning debut novel, an enthralling first instalment of what promises to be an exciting series of novels for young adults (and all sorts of other readers). Comparisons will inevitably be made (I’ll do it myself in a moment), but unlike authors of some of the popular novel series for young adults of the recent and not-so-recent past, Paquette has firmly rooted the adventure in our real world: no Ministry of Magic, no post-Apocalyptic Panem, and although there are magical journeys, they are not to some aborted Medievalist fantasy called Narnia or anything else. Lightfinder is an adventure in the landscape and geography – and political economy – of Canada – specifically Alberta – today.”

Behind The Hedge –
“Lightfinder” by Aaron Paquette: Comparisons Will Inevitably Be Made

Lightfinder Illo -Paquette


We Are All Treaty


“As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…”

The poetry of this phrase – this idea – of Treaty always struck me as uncommonly beautiful.

As does the truth of this statement:

We Are All Treaty.

For those who don’t know, Treaties were made between Canadian First Nations groups and The Crown, which is to say, the authority from which each successive Canadian Government derives their authority to rule.

They were intended as a peaceful resolution to a problematic conundrum: how to form a country in a land peopled by Aboriginal groups who could not easily be defeated on the field of battle?

For the Indigenous population, it was an opportunity to return to a more stable way of life, unmolested by the European invaders who they once protected as friends but now fought with for the right to live.

As we saw with the Residential School horror, that peace was not to last.

Here are some very broad strokes:

For the past century and more, Indigenous groups have witnessed the encroaching of their lands, the theft of their resources, and the reneging by the government of monies agreed on in return for peaceful use of the land.

There used to be a fund set aside. Corporations could extract resources from Treaty lands. They would keep 60% of the value and the landlords, the First Nations, would get 40%.

(almost done the history, bear with me!)

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, wanted to build a railroad…but how to pay for it?

You guessed it. That fund was dissolved. And lo! the railway was born!

And the taxpayer was given the responsibility of taking care of the corporation’s debt to the Treaties. And even then, it was a pittance compared to what was actually due.

If we add up the money that is owed, some calculate there is a Trillion Dollar Debt to the children of Canada’s treaties, many of whom have no clean drinking water, no warm shelter for the cold winter months, and no access to decent education and healthcare (all part of the original Treaty Agreements, by the way).

And in the meantime, the government has been trying to rid itself of the “Native Problem” through attempted Genocide, assimilation, and reduction of funds to “starve them out”.

No one in the general public really complains because at the same time, there has been a public continuation of some popular memes.

Some of the common Propaganda myths:

  • The “natives” are lazy.
  • The leaders are corrupt and lack accountability
  • The problem with the natives is the natives themselves.
  • Everyone suffers, why should they be special?
  • It’s in the past, forget about it.

As long as people believe these obvious untruths and misrepresentations, the government has free reign to continue their work of dehumanizing their enemy and starving out and chipping away at the people to gain access of treaty lands for corporate use.

Why is this important?

Because those lands, almost negligible as they may be as far as land mass goes, have been instrumental in keeping Canada a natural paradise. This is why we are all Treaty. We all share that responsibility.

This isn’t just a Native thing, this is an Everyone thing. We are all in this together.

The beauty of our unspoiled places, that they have been kept pristine and clean for this long is a miracle.

And we want to keep it that way.

All our children deserve it.

The Treaties make this possible, and its what the government wants to be rid of so that those lands can be developed.

And the waters are now unprotected.

It’s easy to do the math.

All you have to do is see who profits.

I’m not anti-corporation at all. But I am all for a responsible stewardship of the land we all share. The water we all drink, and the air we all breathe.

As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…

First Nations in Canada have been good allies for the rest of Canada.

In every instance they have come to the table in peace. In every instance they have operated in good faith.

There is a misconception that they are always asking for more. They are only asking for the Government of Canada to live up it’s share of these Peace Treaties.

There is a misconception that all the Chiefs are corrupt and the meagre sums provided have been mishandled. The office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has to approve every cent of expenditures. Myth destroyed.

Canada’s Indigenous people have been very patient. They have been purposely kept in a state of poverty and emotional wreckage in order to control them.

But the new generation is rising. They have been freed from the cycle of abuse and they are educated. They are supported by the wisdom of their Elders. And they are tired of this long, long, fruitless fight. They want peace and fairness.

And so should you.

You should be proud that you live in this time when the broken pieces of the past are being gathered, put back together.

You live in a time when an abused people are reclaiming their dignity and strength. And they don’t carry blame, they don’t carry guilt, they carry an olive branch.

And the settler’s legal books, which they have read and mastered.

Canada is sadly a deeply racist society and that is now being uncovered and revealed.

Be happy and overjoyed! The light will cast out the darkness.

You are witnessing a Civil Rights Movement that is lighting up the world with inspiration.

And you are invited to join it. You are invited to be part of what will be the remaking of Canada’s present and providing a better future not only for one of the largest landmasses in the world, but for the world itself. This is only the beginning and it’s time is due.

The time is now.

And you are here.

It can’t happen without you.

You’re here for a purpose. To be a part of something wonderful.

You can feel it.

And you can feel the fear of the establishment. They don’t want change. But change is coming. Peacefully.

It’s time to put this broken world back together again.


People say, “Put the past behind you.”

I say, put it in front of you. A vast wide vista of your life, the lives of your parents, and that whole amazing assortment of those who came before. Learn from them. Learn perseverance, learn love, learn compassion. Learn perspective.

And learn their stories.

Behind you is the future. And you walk blindly into it because no one can see it, we can only catch glimpses.

Allow those who came before you to be your guide. And they will guide you. Their time is done and they can see where you are going, they’ve been down similar paths.

Gain wisdom from your ancestors and prepare yourself to pass wisdom on to those who come after.

The past is gone, and it’s a feast for the curious, a balm for the lonely, and a hope for those who despair. All who came before you are cheering you on.

“You can do it!”

They should know. They left you with the best parts of them.

So don’t live in the past, but never forget it. Bring the lessons with you into the exciting and unknown road ahead.

hiy hiy


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The Revolution Will Not be Televised (But it Will be Tweeted)

Photo by Deanna Rae

On December 10, 2012 thousands of Indigenous Canadians gathered to peacefully protest an ideology that would see rivers and lakes unprotected – ripe for industrial pollution, and measures that would threaten their sovereignty on their own lands.

At issue is the breaking of spiritual and legally binding promises by the Government of Canada. At issue is the continuing colonization of the original peoples of this land.

The movement is called #IdleNoMore and the issue is Bill-C45, an ominibus bill that tosses in everything but the kitchen sink, all attached to the budget. It’s designed this way in order to slip as many egregious changes to legislation as possible under the radar. If you catch one, there will be ten more that won’t get as much attention.

It doesn’t just affect those who have been dominated by the Indian Act. It affects all Canadians, and especially our children.

And that’s why all Canadians need to learn what is happening and need to stand up with their Indigenous sisters and brothers. Cousins, we are all in this together.

If you don’t care about leaving a clean place for your children then you might as well stop reading now. Because this is about dealing with things today, so that those yet unborn can have their tomorrows.

I am an artist. I deal in pattern recognition. And anyone else who sees patterns knows what I’m talking about.

This government is attempting to systematically sell off our resources and make even more resources available for exploitation. It’s a short term game plan and one that this current government doesn’t even hope to survive. But by the time the next election rolls around it will be too late to stop all the destruction. Sure, the Conservatives will be voted out (unless Canadians go back to sleep again), but their friends will already be enriched, their ideology will have been advanced and they will likely have future seats on corporate boards and their MP pensions.

Don’t worry about them, they’ll be all right.

And they will leave the rest of you holding the environmental and economic bag, much like the Republicans did to Americans, who are still digging their way out of the mess that was left behind.

This is much greater than angry protesting natives, this is about becoming aware of the world in which you live.

First they gutted the sciences, long term studies that would help us understand our ecosystem better so we could develop more responsibly, and no one said a word.

Then they cut funding for our shared history and those who work to preserve it, while at the same time dumping tens of millions of dollars into celebrating a British colony war that happened before we were even a country, and still no one said anything.

Then the world was made aware of the shameful conditions for small children growing up on underfunded, polluted Reservations. A small murmur and then nothing.

And now, because of the apathy they see, this government has taken galling steps to sell out our wilderness, our resources and sovereignty. And not even to the highest bidder. It’s a yard sale with no regard for responsibility or care for anyone who might be negatively affected (in other words, all of us).

From millions of protected waterways a couple weeks ago, we now have hundreds. Yes, you read that right.

So why are Canada’s Indigenous Peoples the only ones who are standing up? Why are they now the World’s Protectors?

I urge you stand with them, no matter where in the world you are from. I urge you to become aware. 

And I urge you to set an example for your children.

Show them that we are not sheep to be fleeced, but giants who have slumbered.

Show them that they can have a better life because of you, not a worse one because of apathy.

Show them that the only way to make the fundamental changes this world so sorely needs is in looking out for each other instead of hunkering down in isolation.

We know the way the world works. We know everyone is grasping for their piece of the crumbling pie. 

Don’t your children deserve a better fate? Don’t you deserve a better one, too?

The old model is tearing this planet apart and the planet is responding.

There is still time to change.

There is still time to stand.

There is still time to walk into a better tomorrow than our path today would suggest.

Join us. Walk with us. 

Share our simple joys.

And together we can be the first population in the world to peacefully and radically change the course our government has set.

It’s not about politics, it’s about people.

It’s not about anger, it’s about finding sanity right now.

It’s not about revolution, it’s about the evolution of our society.

We’re ready.

Are you ready?

Because now is the time.

Hiy hiy

This Is What Relovution Looks Like – Response to Omnibus Bill C-45

Imagine this:

A Gathering of people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous – from here and from around the world – who care about what’s going on.

Right here in Canada.

And instead of angry protests, we come as friends, leaders, partners.

We involve the children and the elders, the artists and the scientists, the dispossessed and the homeowner.

We speak to the politicians, but they are not the audience if they won’t listen.

Then the audience is Everyone Else. And the message is one that connects to the heart, where real change happens.

We live in the Social Age, and most people haven’t figured out what that means.

It means we are becoming more and more a global community. A family. And we protect and nurture our friends.

So we have a Gathering, but we still need to design it.

The first step is to create a framework. Toss out a bunch of ideas and see which ones resonate. I have some that I’ll share.

But I guess before that we need to build an extremely good team. An incredible network of very extremely good teams.

It’s absolutely important that whoever is involved understands this isn’t an angry rally, or a forum for speech-making, or any of the stuff people expect. The point is to make it a celebration AND a firmness of resolve. Only joy, only love, only gentle, straightforward messages.

One of the key things is to gather either virtually or in reality. My preference would be the Rocky Mountains.

We create a proposal. A Path for society (development, budgets, environment, education, etc) that will take us forward for 7 Generations. This path then becomes a document and a hide painting. It is the result of months of open forum discussion with as many people as we can get to participate.

We teach all the people who will come join our huge, amazing, non-protest Gathering some really cool traditional friendship songs. Maybe a few tutorials on the web would help.

We have gifts for every politician, and a corresponding gift for someone homeless. This way they are forever tied together through the gifts we give.

Our children sing the songs of friendship, thousands and thousands of them with their parents.

We offer tobacco, we bring the peace pipe. We present our gifts.

We express gratitude and love for those who are working in government. We express it for the people at home. We express it for the nations of the world, and we express it for Mother Earth.

It has to be love.

Anger makes it all fall apart and everything stays the same or gets worse.

It can be only love.

And I believe youth should lead us.

Who’s in?

Omnibus Bill C-45 begins Assimilation of Indigenous Canada

Chiefs Gather in Peace at Parliament


That’s what’s coming in one form or another.

The first shots were fired today in the form of words and insult.
First Nations Chiefs from across the country gathered today in front of Parliament in Ottawa. They brought drums, sweetgrass and a peace pipe.

They brought the concerns of their people, concerns for clean water, concerns for protection of land sovereignty, and concerns that the Canadian Government is seeking to unilaterally change key aspects of the Indian Act without any input or cooperation from..well…”Indians”

A small group was invited into Parliament by an MP, then that same group was thrown out by security, but not before these words of frustration were uttered:“Let’s see what happens when you try to enter our territories…this is just the beginning. This is just the beginning.”

All across the country, Indigenous people are outraged and angry, but what else is new? The public at large, that’s all they know of their Treaty partners.

Either they are entertaining with their beautiful dances and costumes, or they are dangerous and angry.

But we never get to the root of it. We never get to the “why” and rather than think about it or ask questions, the result is a shrug of the shoulders of people who know nothing about Reservation life or Treaties. They wonder why the Natives aren’t simply happy with all the “free handouts”.

The government says they have the best interests of the Indigenous population at heart. And I believe them. But what they feel is best for Aboriginal Canada, and what Aboriginal Canada thinks is best are very different creatures.

The Harper Government wants assimilation. They feel that the best way to deal with the situation is to make it disappear, absorb First Nations, Metis and Inuk populations into the rest of society. So what can you do to coax that outcome along if you are the Harper Government?

You underfund schools. You listen compassionately to the problems of clean water and housing and then blame the victims for mismanagement even though your own people can’t find any evidence of alleged mismanagement.

You sit idly by while the very young suffer and are brought up in Third World conditions in one of the wealthiest nations on earth.

You propose legislation that allows a few people the power to sell off the majority of Reservation lands in order to enrich corporations.

In short, you chisel away, bit by bit until there is nothing left. You make life so hopeless for the people who live on Reservations that they leave. They assimilate, and the colonization, the conquering, the decades of Residential School atrocities…it all comes together to drive the final stake in the heart of the enemy. You destroy their culture and renege on sacred agreements.

Why do you think they’re so busy building new prisons?

Why are Indigenous people seen as enemies?

Here’s the thing, people of Canada, the so-called enemy knows what’s happening. And the enemy sees you as brothers and sisters. The enemy is the descendant of the people whose blood and bones our cities and roads are built on. Their destruction has led to our enrichment, even if you are an immigrant.

And the enemy keeps coming to the table, keeps negotiating in good faith, keeps trying to follow the rules of the colonizing government so that they can help their people.

Because the enemy thinks we are all family. The enemy thinks we all have good and open hearts and desire to do the right thing. The enemy doesn’t know you view them as non-human. As less. As nothing.

But they are starting to get the message. Their young men and women are starting to see that no matter how many rules they follow, no matter how hard they work to break the chains and cycles of generations of physical, cultural, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of your holy men and women it won’t matter. Because no one listens.

No one listens.

And so a war is coming that no one wants.

My heart cries at the thought of it. Our children will be the casualties. Their innocence, their faith in us, their need for an example that the world can really be a better place…it all dies along with the end of our respect for each other.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Bill-C45 is a budget bill. Why does it have so many other things packed on to it? So they can slip a dozen things under your noses before you have time to notice. If you don’t know what’s in that bill, then you might want to find out.

I speak to parents now. I speak on behalf of your children. They deserve to raise their own children in a clean world. A world where they don’t have to worry about cancer from the sun, from the water, from the food they eat. They shouldn’t have to worry about cancers of the spirit.

But that’s the world we’re giving them.

We’re giving them a world of ignorance, hate, greed and pollution.We can do better. We should do better, and we need to do it now while we still have choices. We need to do right by Treaties signed in good faith, and right by those yet unborn. We need to take responsibility and move forward with wisdom and compassion.

We should never be ashamed to look our children in the eye, but shame is what we are bringing them if we do nothing.

It’s time to end this sick, dysfunctional cycle and act like mature, caring, strong adults.

War is coming, but we can stop it.

We can find a way.

We can honour the Treaties.

We can honour each other.

And with good faith, we can create something new.