The Illegitimate Indian Act

Essay by CorinneUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, January 2008

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The Illegitimate Indian Act

I Introduction:

The major intent of 1876 Indian Act was to allow the federal government to exercise its constitutional authority over Indians and their land; however, it also has been used as a tool to oppress the Indian people. Despite, the many amendments to the Act, it still falls short in protecting and serving native Canadians. The classification of "Indian" and the special rights and privileges that the Act provides undermines the principle of equality for all Canadians, not just Indians. Note the use of the word "Indian". Although politically and technically incorrect, it is the legal term used for "Indians" and is referred to in this paper as such. The Indian Act is illegitimate as it supports segregation, weakens initiative, and promotes inequality.

II Segregation:

The Indian Act has segregated Indians legally, geographically, and economically. First with the definition of Indian in Section 2 of the Indian Act, which describes who and who is not an Indian is the first form of segregation in the policy.

Author Michele DuCharme takes issue with this point in his book, The Segregation of Native People in Canada: Voluntary or Compulsory? : "to ask the question (who is an Indian?), in legal terms is in it self, segregation."�

No other race in Canada is legally defined. Second, all Indians must be registered in a band to be eligible for their rights or in other words put on a "racial record."� Third, before the Europeans came, the Indians were a strong and proud people moving about the land as their needs dictated. With the arrival of Samuel de Champlain, the Indians shared their expertise allowing him and his men to establish the first colonies in Canada. Also, they taught them how to survive the hard Canadian winters. In...