I have spent my adult life trying to undo the impacts of my grandmother's "voluntary" enfranchisement seven decades ago.
“I’m so angry, I feel like I’m free falling and there’s no net to catch me.”
The effects of the Indian Act still reverberate today.
A version of Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Indian Act, would result in a number of new status Indians. But how many, really?
When members of Parliament and senators borrow, assimilate, or adopt gender-neutral language such as "unstated parentage" or "unnamed parent" when the discrimination is anything but, they potentially approve legislation that harms mothers and babies.
A First Nations person on reserve does not enjoy fee simple ownership and does not have the same property rights as all other Canadians who live off reserve. According to the Indian Act, First Nations reserve land is held in trust for on-reserve members by the federal government -- essentially making on-reserve First Nations people wards of the state.
A small First Nations community called Whitecap Dakota, located just outside of Saskatoon, has a lot to celebrate on National Aboriginal Day. When Chief Darcy Bear took office the unemployment rate on reserve was 70 per cent, with the support of his council and community, Chief Bear has brought the unemployment rate down to five per cent.
As international champions of democracy and with so much debate over federal election reforms, how would you expect our elected officials to react when democratic rights are being stifled in First Nations communities in Canada? Unfortunately, in recent weeks, they've responded with neglect and evasion.
First Nations are looking for an educational system adapted to their realities and their culture. Unfortunately, the federal government's new approach seems to be based on the view that band councils are the problem and provincial school boards (or bodies like them) are the solution. But the evidence shows the government will not be able to solve the problems experienced by schools on-reserve simply by handing responsibility for them over to new or different institutions. The students will remain in the same communities with the same challenges.
The Indian Act is the most glaringly anti-democratic impediment to Indigenous self-government. Although they are elected, Chief and Council have no democratic authority to govern because they are constrained from above by the Act rather than from below by their people. The arrangement is insultingly arbitrary.