GIVEN VOTING RIGHTS: MARCH 31, 1960
In 1960, under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's enlightened thinking, the government made a decision that would prove to be most beneficial in promoting the eventual recognition of the civil and human rights of First Nations citizens. It decided to permit all Registered Indians to vote in federal elections. Registered Indians living on-Reserve had previously been prevented from doing so by this section of the Canada Elections Act:
14. (2) The following persons are disqualified from voting in an election and incapable of being registered as electors and shall not vote nor be so registered, that is to say, ...
(e) every Indian, as defined in the Indian Act, ordinarily resident on a reserve, unless
(i) he was a member of His Majesty's Forces during World War I or World War II, or was a member of the Canadian Forces who served on active service subsequent to the 9th day of September, 1950, or
(ii) he executed a waiver, in a form prescribed by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, of exemptions under the Indian Act from taxation on and in respect of personal property, and subsequent to the execution of such waiver a writ has issued ordering an election in any electoral district.
An "Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act," repealing the discriminatory parts of Section 14, was given royal assent on March 31, 1960.
By acquiring the right to vote ninety-three unjustifiable years after Confederation, the First Nations peoples of Canada had acquired a useful tool in their future struggles for freedom and justice. Politicians now had to address their problems or suffer at the polls. After this, things began to slowly change for the better for First Nations peoples.
Why the change wasn't more rapid is explained by the following example of the racist attitudes that still prevailed among the bureaucrats: When I returned from the States in 1960 with the intention of going back to school, I went to see the Indian Agent with a request for financial assistance to do so. His response was: "Why don't you go get a pick and shovel and go do what you're best qualified for? " With the angry intervention of my Member of Parliament, Mr. Cyril Kennedy, who was a war veteran and a fine gentleman, the Agent changed his attitude and I started business college in September of that year.
Another thing that changed after the vote was granted was that departmental bureaucrats became more adept at concealing their misdeeds and failings from Members of Parliament, who were now answerable to the people making complaints about bureaucratic job performance. The bureaucrats came up with the ideal solution, amazingly never challenged by any politician. To this day they assign themselves to investigate their own misdeeds and failings and, of course, almost always exonerate themselves. The worst result is that First Nations citizens are left with no effective legal recourse for their complaints about the actions of Indian Affairs bureaucrats and Band Councils. As this situation demonstrates, full protection of our People's civil rights is still hard to come by.
NOTE: Probably related to white supremacist thinking that was implanted in them through the social development of the mother country, England, all the white overseas countries founded by it were extremely barbaric in their treatment of the indigenous inhabitants they displaced. In one form or other, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States have subjected them to genocidal treatment.
Austrailia took even longer than Canada to grant it's indigenous people the right to vote in the country's elections: November 24, 1973!