"Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race." - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott - 1920

That Canada had careless indifference towards managing judiciously it’s trust responsibilities for First Nation's Peoples, and the lands it held in trust for them, which was mandated by Section 91.24 of the British North America Act, is evidenced by the fact that it took the government almost a decade to enact legislation needed by it for the purpose.

Thus, in 1876, nine years after Confederation, the federal government finally devised and legislated the legal code that it required to manage and fulfil the requirements of it's Constitutional obligations, which it christened, “The Indian Act.” Unfortunately, it did so for the wrong reason. The Act, from the beginning was envisioned by it's architects as the tool that the Canadian government needed to solve the “Indian Problem” forever - extermination of the cultures by assimilation was to be the singular focus of the Act's enforcers. That White supremacist thinking was foremost in developing the Act is witnessed by the following Sections.

In direct contradiction of it’s trust responsibilities the government included a section in the first issue of the Indian Act which made it illegal for an Indian Agent not to make every effort to sell off Indian reserve lands that it held in trust for Registered Indians.

Section 138

138. Every Agent who knowingly and falsely informs, or causes to be informed, any person applying to him to purchase any land within his division and agency, that the same has already been purchased, or who refuses to permit the person so applying to purchase the same according to existing regulations, shall be liable therefore to the person so applying, in the sum of five dollars for each acre of land which the person so applying offered to purchase, recoverable by action of debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

This section of the 1927 Indian Act placed an impossible burden upon Bands that wished to take legal action against the Crown or file a claim:


141. Every person who, without the consent of the Superintendent General expressed in writing, receives, obtains, solicits or requests from any Indian any payment or contribution or promise of any payment or contribution for the purpose of raising a fund or providing money for the prosecution of any claim which the Tribe or Band of Indians to which such Indian belongs, or of which he is a Member, has or is represented to have for the recovery of any claim or money for the said Tribe or Band, shall be guilty of an offense and liable upon summary conviction for each such offence to a penalty not exceeding two hundred dollars and not less than fifty dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months.38


Some of the most insidious provisions the government included in the Indian Act, and added to with future amendments, were the enfranchising sections. These provisions were enacted for the express purpose of hastening extinction of Registered Indians by assimilation. Under these sections, individuals and entire Bands were enfranchised. They were hoodwinked into believing that somehow or other, by giving up their rights as Indians, they would reap all the benefits of Canadian citizenship. But, most of those who gave up their "Indian" rights were rewarded by becoming destitute wanderers that nobody in Canada wanted. Fortunately, despite the best efforts of succeeding governments to entice them to do so, the vast majority of First Nations' Peoples refused the bait.

Section 86 was the 1876 enfranchisement section:

Whenever any Indian man, or unmarried woman, of the full age of twenty-one years obtains the consent of the Band of which he or she is a member to become enfranchised, and whenever such Indian has been assigned by the Band a suitable allotment of land for that purpose, the local Agent shall report such action of the Band and the name of the applicant to the Superintendent General.

Whereupon the said Superintendent General, if satisfied that the proposed allotment of land is equitable, shall authorize some competent person to report whether the applicant is an Indian, who from the degree of civilization to which he or she has attained, and the character for integrity, morality and sobriety which he or she bears, appears to be qualified to become a proprietor of land in fee simple; and upon the favourable report of such person, the Superintendent General may grant such Indian a location ticket as a probationary Indian for the land allotted to him or her by the Band.

(1) Any Indian who may be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, or to any other degree by any University of Learning, or who may be admitted in any Province of the Dominion to practice law, either as an Advocate or as a Barrister, or Counsellor, or Solicitor, or Attorney, or to be a Notary Public, or who may enter Holy Orders, or who may be licensed by any denomination of Christians as a Minister of the Gospel, shall ipso facto become and be enfranchised under this Act.


To assure that Whites could improve the "amenities" of their communities by having Indians removed from close proximity, the government included this section in the Indian Act:

Removal of Indians

46. (1) In the case of an Indian reserve which adjoins or is situated wholly or partly within an incorporated town or city having a population of not less than eight thousand ... the Governor in Council may, upon the recommendation of the Superintendent General, refer to the judge of the Exchequer Court of Canada for inquiry and report the question as to whether it is expedient, having regard to the interest of the public and of the Indians of the band for whose use the reserve is held, that the Indians should be removed from the reserve or any part of it....

If the judge finds that it is expedient that the band of Indians should be removed from the reserve or any part of it, he shall proceed, before making his report, to ascertain the amounts of compensation, if any, which should be paid respectively to individual Indians of the band for the special loss or damages which they will sustain in respect of the buildings or improvements to which they are entitled upon the lands of the reserve for which they are located.....

The judge shall transmit his findings, with the evidence and a report of the proceedings, to the Governor in Council, who shall lay a full report of the proceedings ... before Parliament ... and upon such findings being approved by resolution of Parliament the Governor in Council may thereupon give effect to the said findings and cause the reserve, or any part thereof from which it is found expedient to remove the Indians, to be sold or leased by public auction after three months advertisement in the public press, upon the best terms which in the opinion of the Governor in Council, may be obtained therefor.

The proceeds of the sale or lease, after deducting the usual percentage for management fund, shall be applied in compensating individual Indians for their buildings or improvements as found by the judge, in purchasing a new reserve for the Indians removed, in transferring the said Indians with their effects thereto, in erecting buildings upon the new reserve, and in providing the Indians with such other assistance as the Superintendent General may consider advisable....

For the purpose of selecting [a] new reserve to be acquired for the Indians ... the Superintendent General shall have all the powers conferred upon the Minister by the Expropriation Act.39

Shortly after the turn of the century this provision was used in Nova Scotia. The victims were the Mi'kmaq residing near Kings Road in Sydney (about where the Holiday Inn is now located). Whites, residing close to the area, went to court and used the provision to force the Band members to move to Membertou Reserve.

No attempt has ever been made by the federal Crown to right this historic wrong. However, on March 21, 1999, at a dinner in Membertou the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, David Muise, officially apologized on behalf of the municipality to the descendants of the Mi'kmaq removed from their Kings Road Reserve starting in 1915. He told the gathering: "There's nothing we can do to undo the move.... What I'm here to do is start the healing process for wrongs of the past." Right on, Mr. Mayor!

Section 46, in addition to being contrary to the laws of a civilized Nation, was contrary to human decency! Until it was repealed in 1951, this obnoxious section gave the bureaucrats an enormous club to wield in their efforts to force the First Nations peoples to do their bidding. The threat of removal caused the Mi'kmaq to think twice before opposing the Department. Adding to the obnoxiousness of the legislation was the fact that the Department could force the People to pay for their own expulsion, as was done in the case of the Sydney Mi'kmaq.

It would not do justice to this revelation of oppression of Registered Indians by the Canadian government if the following White supremacist gems were not included

Indian Act, Section 140, 1927, Dances and Festivals (forbid such activities)

140.(1) Every Indian or other person who engages in, or assists in celebrating or encourages, either directly or indirectly, another to celebrate any Indian Festival, dance, or other ceremony of which the giving away or paying or giving back of money, goods or articles of any sort forms a part, or is a feature, whether such gift of money, goods or articles takes place before, at, or after the celebration of the same or who engages or assists in any celebration or dance of which the wounding or mutilation of the dead or living body of any human being or animal forms a part or is a feature, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and not less than two months.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the holding of any agricultural show or exhibition or the giving away of prizes for exhibits thereat.

(3) Any Indian in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia or in the Territories who participates in any Indian Dance outside the bounds of his own reserve, or who participates in any show, exhibition, performance, stampede or pageant in aboriginal costume without the consent of the Superintendent General or his authorized agent, and any person who induces or employs any Indian to take part in such dance, show, exhibition, performance, stampede or pageant, or induces any Indian to leave his reserve or employs any Indian for such a purpose, whether the dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant has taken place or nor, shall on summary conviction be liable to a penalty not exceeding twenty five dollars, or to imprisonment for one month, or to both penalty and imprisonment.

Indian Act, Section 140A, 1930, poolrooms (barred from poolroom usage)


140. (a) Where it is made to appear in open court that any Indian, summoned before such court, by inordinate frequenting of a poolroom either on or off a reserve, misspends or wastes his time or means to the detriment of himself, his family or household, of which he is a member, the police magistrate, stipendiary magistrate, Indian agent, or two justices of the peace holding such court, shall by writing under his or their hand or hands forbid the owner or person in charge of a poolroom which such Indian is in the habit of frequenting to allow such Indian to enter such poolroom for the space of one year from the date of such notice.

Any owner or person in charge of a poolroom who allows an Indian to enter a poolroom in violation of such notice, and any Indian who enters a poolroom where his admission has been so forbidden, shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding twenty five dollars and costs or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty days.

Indian Act, Section 120, 1930, Prevention of Trade (could not sell their goods without permission of the Indian agent)

Prevention of Trade

120. Every person who buys or otherwise acquires from any Indian, or band or irregular band of Indians, in the province of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Alberta, or the Territories, any cattle or other animals or any grain, root crops or other produce or sells to any such Indian any goods or supplies, cattle or other animals contrary to the provisions of this Act, shall on summary conviction, be liable to a penalty not exceeding one hundred dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both.

Biased Indian Act Sections such as these were not unusual. Its another piece of irony that prior to Confederation the First Nations Peoples had suffered unremitting racist persecution, most of which was dished out in an ad hoc fashion. After Confederation, when more enlightened thought was supposed to be afoot, persecution was codified in federal and provincial laws.

I want to clarify this: For any who might be inclined to think that the Indian Act was designed to preserve First Nations' cultures it wasn't. In fact, it was designed to deliver the final blow to them, but fittingly, in the end it was their salvation. The men who sought to destroy these cultures, motivated by racist perceptions of themselves as products of superior civilizations, would roll over in their graves today if they knew that the actions they took to facilitate the demise of First Nation civilizations were the very actions that ultimately saved them.

To acquire a better understanding of the negative affect that the Indian Act had on the Registered Indian population of Canada, and how it was used over the decades by Canadian governments to oppress and degrade them, please read We Were Not the Savages