Unit Five: Indian Act and its Impact on First Nations People

Do you think the Indian Act should be revised or abolished? Respond to the following statement: “The Indian Act has affected the treaty relationship because of its paternalistic nature, created to control every aspect of First Nations peoples’ lives. It is an impediment to treaty implementation.”

The Indian Act is a law that treats Indigenous peoples  “like children;…like “persons underage, incapable of the management of their own affairs” and, therefore, the government had to assume the “onerous duty of … guardianship” (Indian Act Colonialism: A Century Of Dishonour, 1869-1969, 2008). This act destroys Indigenous self-governance and self-determination by forcing them to adopt a European style government. For example, Indigenous women in First Nations governments could take part in decision making and voting, while European style governments forbade women from voting. Another example of the Indian Act treating First Nations as wards of the state is that the Canadian government dictates who is First Nations. In the Indian Act, under the section “Definition and Registration of Indians,” it lists a series of requirements that a person must meet to prove to the government if a person is an Indigenous person.

I think that the decision to revise or abolish the Indian Act should be up to the Indigenous community. But if you were to ask my opinion on the issue, I lean towards revising the Indian Act. I’m more in favour of revising the Indian Act because although it has done so much harm to the Indigenous community. This act is evidence that the Canadian government acknowledges the legal duty it has towards Indigenous peoples. It also acknowledges the special relationship the Canadian government has with First Nations that distinguishes them different from other Canadians.


Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 1-5 Retrieved from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/i-5/page-2.html#h-331794

National Centre for First Nations Governance. (2008). Indian Act Colonialism: A Century Of Dishonour, 1869-1969. [PDF file]. Retrieved from


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Teacher in training.

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