In 1956, Canada's hypocrisy caught up with it. It was discovered that when the country's Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect on January 1, 1947, its provisions had denied citizenship to many of its First Nations peoples. Prior to this date individuals resident in Canada were British Subjects. In response, Parliament enacted legislation made retroactive to 1947. I can't help but conclude that this was done to make it appear that before Canada signed the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights all First Nations peoples resident in the country in 1948 were citizens ." To conclude the farce, "An Act to Amend the Canadian Citizenship Act" was enacted by Parliament and given royal assent on June 7, 1956:
Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows: ...
2. Section 9 of the said Act is amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
(4) An Indian as defined in the Indian Act, or a person of the race of aborigines commonly referred to as Eskimos, other than a natural-born Canadian citizen, is a Canadian citizen if that person,
(a) had a place of domicile in Canada on the 1st day of January, 1947, and
(b) on the 1st day of January, 1956, had resided in Canada for more than ten years, and such a person is deemed to have become a Canadian citizen on the 1st day of January, 1947.
How commendable! After eighty-nine years the citizenship status of all First Nation peoples of Canada had been cleared up on paper. However, what were we before 1947? Prisoners of war? Non-persons? Wards of the Crown? Were we still such despite the legislation?
The most honest answer to these questions is that to the majority of Canadians in 1956, First Nations citizen was nothing. For instance, I had known since my early years that I was not considered an equal citizen of Canada with the same basic human rights as Whites. The fact that such things as centralization occurred is ample proof of this statement. Officially, although some now try to pretend we weren't, Treaty Indians were still treated as "Wards of the Crown" after 1956.
When or how "Wards of the Crown" status was replaced officially with "full citizenship status" I haven't been able to determine. For example, up until the day when Parliament repealed the Indian Act enfranchisement and other racist sections in 1985, any Registered Indian applying for permission to give up Indian status had to sign a declaration on an application form which stated: "I certify that I am capable of assuming the responsibilities of citizenship."