Without a doubt the most racist document ever produced by a western democracy.

Note: On this page when referring to anything regarding government legislation and laws - the word "Indian" is used.


(Assembly of First Nations

"It is the only legislation in the world designed for a particular race of people.

It was made by Parliament and not by Indian people.

Because Parliament is supreme in Canada, it can therefore change the Act without consultation with Indians.

Indian peoples' weapons against revision without their input is through provincial and national Indian organizations.

The Act is basically not the source of substantive or basic Indian rights; it merely tells how to administrate.

The Act has, however, been used through the courts, to erode substantive Indian rights.

The Act does, however, have certain provisions which preserve Indian rights.

There have been various other Federal Acts dealing with Indians since the early 1800's.

All these Acts down to the present one have been consistent in their goals of assimilation, integration and eventual abolition of reserves and of special rights for Indians."



"Sadly, our history with respect to the treatment of Aboriginal people is not something in which we can take pride. Attitudes of racial and cultural superiority led to a suppression of Aboriginal culture and values. As a country, we are burdened by past actions that resulted in weakening the identity of Aboriginal peoples, suppressing their languages and cultures, and outlawing spiritual practices. We must recognize the impact of these actions on the once self-sustaining nations that were disaggregated, disrupted, limited or even destroyed by the dispossession of traditional territory, by the relocation of Aboriginal people, and by some provisions of the Indian Act. We must acknowledge that the result of these actions was the erosion of the political, economic and social systems of Aboriginal people and nations."

Statement of Reconciliation, 1998




An Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of Indians in Lower Canada. A commissioner is established to hold Indian lands in trust for Indian people, but with full power to do what he wishes with that property. (Introduction of the illiterate and racist Indian Agent)

An Act where the Better Protection of Indians in Upper Canada. The property occupied or enjoyed by Indians from trespass and injury. By this, no one can deal with Indian lands unless the Crown approves. The Act also gives exemption to Indians from taxation, judgment and seizure as well as preventing the sale of liquor to Indians. At this point in time, the Government's main concern is to protect the Indians and their lands from abuse only, until such time as they become "civilized or assimilated."


The Civilization of Indian Tribes Act expressly makes assimilation of Native people its goal. It is declared that Indians who are "sufficiently advanced in terms of education or capable of managing their own affairs will be enfranchised (the legal process of eliminating Native status).

The Management of Indian Lands and Property Act declares the Commission of Crown lands to be the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He has the power to dispose of lands reserved for the Indians which they have released or surrendered.

CONSTITUTION ACT 1867 (Originally enacted as the British North America Act (BNA)

Assigned to Parliament legislative jurisdiction over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians"; two separate powers cover status and civil rights on the one hand and Indian lands on the other.



The first federal act was passed in 1868 drawing heavily on earlier legislation.  Department of the Secretary of State Act appoints the Secretary of State to be the Superintendent General of Indian Affair, who has the power to control and manage the lands and property of Natives in Canada. Note: the modern Indian Act can be traced to the Department of Secretary of State Act and an Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians and the Better Management of Indian Affairs. The latter statute introduces the concept of local government to the reserves.

Subsequent legislation promoted assimilation into non-Native society: Native status was seen as a transitional state, protecting Natives until they became settled on the land and acquired European habits of agriculture.


"Instead of implementing the treaties and offering much needed protection to Indian rights the Indian Act subjugated to colonial rule the very people whose rights if was supposed to protect".  (Harold Cardinal)

Canada’s Indian Act is enacted which attempts to consolidate many Indian laws and makes Indians wards of the government. They are placed in a different legal category from all other Canadians; Act gives individual Natives the right to seek Canadian citizenship by renouncing their rights and privileges. In other words, assimilation into mainstream Canadian society and the loss of culture and all rights associated with a culture are the main themes. The Act governs all aspects of Native life including the denial of the right to vote in an election.

  • Legal definition of an ‘Indian’ is contained in Indian Act. It was later amended in 1951. 

  • "A person who is pursuant to this Act registered as an Indian or is entitled to registered as an Indian." In general, such persons were those whose ancestors were defined as Indians at the time of the first Federal Act of 1868. Also know as "aboriginals" - defined (in Constitution) as "dwelling in any country before the arrival of the later European colonists."

  • STATUS INDIAN - A Status Indian is a person defined as an Indian by the Indian Act and has been registered as an Indian by having h/her name either on a Band list or a General list, and having certain rights, restrictions and benefits under the Indian Act. Sometimes referred to as a Treaty Indian. Roughly 360,000 Status Indians in 1987.

  • TREATY INDIAN - In 1871, treaties became signed documents between Indian leaders and the federal government that designated reserve lands to be owned and occupied, plus hunting rights and a few minor allotments. The ownership of Indian reserves bestowed by the treaties had little to do with the status rights granted in the Indian Act. Many Indian bands were missed in treaty signing, particularly in B. C. and Quebec; thus these bands do not have designated reserves. Registered Indians who have reserves can legally be called "status-treaty Indians". Many Native peoples in B.C. and Quebec are legally recognized as Status, Non-Treaty Indians. The terms cause great confusion among Native Nations who interchange the terms ‘treaty’ and ‘status’. Approximately 60-70% of status Natives live on reserves.

     ENFRANCHISED - The Act spelled out a process of enfranchisement whereby Indians could acquire full Canadian citizenship by relinquishing ties to their community. This involved giving up culture and traditions, and any rights to land. The cost of Canadian citizenship for an Aboriginal person surpassed the cost for an immigrant from another country. The government of Canada saw the Indian Act as a temporary measure to control Aboriginal Peoples until they were fully assimilated through enfranchisement. Accumulation through enfranchisement clearly failed in Canada, as the rate of enfranchisement was extremely low. If was not until the 1960s that this policy changed and Indians were granted the right to vote in federal elections. This was the first time that the government acknowledged citizenship for Aboriginal Peoples without the condition of the assimilation into the Canadian white society."   (

    In other words, those Native people who were not fortunate enough to be standing in line when the Indian Agents came to count heads in the late Nineteenth Century were enfranchised (not recognized) as Status Indians. Others who were away for various reasons were never counted, and their descendants have paid the price ever since. 

    In 1920, the Enfranchisement Amendment to the Indian Act was added in which individuals (usually men) or entire bands by a simple majority vote could surrender their status in return for the federal vote and becoming Canadian citizens.  If a man 'voluntarily' gave up his status, his wife and children were also automatically enfranchised. Note: This was often done in the form of "good ole boy coersion." The Indian Agent would come calling on the family bringing liquor. He'd sit with his "Native Friend", get him drunk, and have him sign on the dotted line. The family was removed from the reserve within days.

  • Women who married non-Native men and any children from that union lost their Status. These women were allowed to apply for status through the passing of Bill C-31 in 1985 (an amendment to the Indian Act). Bill C-31 gave all first generation children of these marriages and Natives who were not counted and who now wished to regain status, the right to re-apply. 
    Men who married non-Native women
    could keep their status, and their white wives, in turn were automatically granted Indian Status. 


The new Constitution Act is affirmed and re-patriated from Britain.  It includes The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 35 of the Constitution Act states: "The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed." Section 37, states that federal and provincial members should meet within one year to directly address issues affecting Native people.

Section 25 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that ‘existing’ Aboriginal rights are not adversely affected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms particularly those recognized by the Royal Proclamation.


This is by no means a complete list of the powers held by the Indian Agents.

They had extraordinary administrative and discretionary powers to enforce the Indian Act and control every aspect of Indian life. I am using the term "Indian Agent" in this case because that is what they were called in law.

Agents displaced traditional Aboriginal leaders so as to institute a new way of living consistent with the intentions of the government. In order to ensure this, Clause 25 of the Act established the government's guardianship over Indian lands.

Often used the distribution of rations as a weapon to impose federal authority on the Native population. Facing hunger and destitution, Natives were forced to bow to the control of the central government.

Full Justice of the Peace powers: Arresting Officer; Prosecutor and Judge. (Democracy at work!)

Powers to determine who qualified as a Status Indian. They did the original count that was so inaccurate and unfair that it continues to reverberate to this day. Enforcing the "blood quantum" - to qualify as a Native, a person born after 1868 had to have at least one quarter Indian blood for status recognition.

Responsible for the enforced signing of land treaties and other agreements.

Native Wills were held by the State; upon the death of an Indian, Indian Agents dispersed property and valuables (often into their own pockets!)

Powers to determine who could live on reserve and then enforced the moving of Indians to reserve lands.

Made the decisions on best uses of reserve lands.

Powers to decide what territory would be reserve lands (how much acreage, where).

Banned Liquor (yet allowed drinking when it suited his purpose).

Powers to enforce the stripping of even the most basic rights for Native women. If they left reserve they could not return.

Forced Native children into Residential Schools and turned a blind eye to the decades of atrocities meted out on them.  Children were often kidnapped while their parents were away and imprisoned in these schools. It is estimated that over 150,000 children were forced into residential schools with an approximate 40% fatality rate. No one knows where the bones of these lost children are buried. See Residential School page for more details.

Responsible for appropriating Native lands when required. For example, without consultation a vast tract of Kahnawake (Mohawk) land was appropriated for the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway (1954) 

Two power dams opposite the Akwesasne Reserve (Haudenosaunee) are also built and in a few years the land and water are polluted. Animals and people sicken and die.

Deposed Traditional Chiefs and replaced them with duly elected 'puppet' chiefs. The Elections which were usually rigged in favour of government interests accomplished two things: (a) It imposed the British Parliamentary system on Native governments, and (b) effectively undermined the considerable influence traditional chiefs had with their people

Interesting Historical Notes:  

1.  The Indian Act formed much of the basis for the introduction of oppressive aparheid policies against Black people in South Africa which lasted for decades.

2 In 1969, all Indian Agents were withdrawn from reserves across Canada ending the government's overt paternalistic presence on First Nations lands.


1884 - Ceremonies Banned   

Outlawed the Thirst Dance (Sun Dance); Potlatch (Chinook trading language, meaning ‘to give’) in British Columbia. Potlatch is the equivalent of title deeds and acts of succession. "Just as the eldest child of a reigning monarch cannot succeed to the British throne without sanction of the law, neither could the succession of a chief be recognized [without proper ceremony]." (Tom Molloy, The World Is Our Witness, pg. 25).


  1887 - Indian Agent Determine Who Is A Native

"The Superintendent General, may, from time to time, upon the report of an officer, or other person specially appointed by him to make an inquiry, determine who is or who is not a member of any band of Indians entitled to share in the property and annuities of the band; and the decision of the Superintendent General in any such matte shall be final and conclusive, subject to an appeal to the Governor in Council."  These men, for the most part were barely literate and racist.



1888 - Half-Breeds

"No half-breed in Manitoba who has shared in the distribution of half-breed lands shall be accounted an Indian; and no half-breed head of a family, except the widow of an Indian or a half-breed who has already been admitted into a treaty, shall, unless under very special circumstances, which shall be determined by the Superintendent General or his agent, be accounted an Indian or entitled to be admitted into any Indian treaty; and any half-breed who has been admitted into a treaty shall, on obtaining the consent in writing of the Indian Commissioner or in his absence the Assistant Indian Commissioner, be allowed to withdraw therefore on signifying in writing his desire so to do....signification in writing shall be signed by him in the presence of two witnesses, who shall certify the same on oath before some person authorized by law to administer the same; and such withdrawal shall include the minor unmarried children of such half-breed." 

(Picture above by Dennis Joseph Weber)


  1895 - Reserves Belong to the Crown

"No reserve or portion of a reserve shall be sold alienated or leased until the same has been released or surrendered to the Crown for the purposes of the Act; provided that the Superintendent-General may lease, for the benefit of any Indian, upon his application for that purpose, the land to which he is entitled without the same being released or surrendered."

(Translation: Without ownership of land, Indigenous peoples are not able (to this day) to develop  reserve lands because they have been unable to, for example, obtain bank loans as they have no collateral. As a result below-poverty standards of living are on-going today.)



1910 - No Trespassing

"If the possession of any lands reserved or claimed to be reserved for the Indians withheld, or if any such lands are adversely occupied or claimed by any person, or if any trespass is committee thereon, the possession may be recovered, in an action at the suit of His Majesty on behalf of the Indians, or of the declaration, relief, or damage claimed."


 1911 -  Government can take what it wants, when it wants!

Allowed portions of reserves to be expropriated by municipalities for roads, railways or other public purposes without Native consultation.  Manifest Destiny!



Enfranchisement Amendment

Enfranchisement is the legal process for terminating a person's Native status under the Indian Act. Native Men, for example, were given the right to vote, and become Canadian citizens, among other things, if they give up their Indian status. 
(Translation: Dis-enfranchise the man, dis-enfranchise his wife and kids as well)

"On the report of the Superintendent General that any Indian, male or female, over the age of twenty-one years is fit for enfranchisement, the Governor in Council may by order direct that such Indians shall be and become enfranchised at the expiration of two years from the date of such order or earlier if requested by such Indian, and from the date of such enfranchisement the provisions of the Indian Act and of any other Act or law making any distinction between the legal rights, privileges, disabilities and liabilities of Indians and those of His Majesty's other subjects, shall cease to apply to such Indian or to his or her minor unmarried children, or, in the case of a married male Indian, to the wife of such Indian, and every such Indian and child and wife shall thereafter have, possess and enjoy all the legal powers, rights and privileges of His Majesty's other subjects, and shall no longer be deemed to be Indians within the meaning of any laws relating to Indians."

This amendment was in force between 1920-1922 and 1933-1951. It was very unpopular and a complete failure as a result.

"Day schools [established] in any Indian reserve for the children of such reserve."

Beware Women!
"Any Indian woman who marries any person other than an Indian, or a non-treaty Indian, shall cease to be an Indian in every respect within the meaning of this Act, except that she shall be entitled to share equally with the members of the band to which she formerly belonged, in the annual or semi-annual distribution of their annuities, interest moneys and rents: Provided that such income may be commuted to her at any time at ten years purchase, with the approval of the Superintendent General."
(Translation: Patriarchy, Gender Bias, Racism abound!)

NOTE: The true meaning of these amendments were quite simply, "Get the Women, Get the Children, Reduce the Bloodline."  Many Native men were deliberately plied with alcohol by unscrupulous Indian Agents who sat with them in "good ole boy comradeship" until they signed on the dotted line.

For more on the appalling treatment of Indigenous Women 



  • Indian Act amended to include the Inuit people.

  • "The Superintendent General may appoint a person or persons to administer the estate of any deceased or insane Indian, and may make such general regulations and such orders in particular cases as he deems necessary to secure the satisfactory administration of such estates." (Translation: Indian Agents)


1927 -
Indians Banned from Raising Money for Legal Purposes To Fight Their Persecution

"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 benefit of the said tribe or band, shall be guilty of an offence 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 any term not exceeding two months."



 Yolk of Oppression Starts to be Lifted

  • Ban on Indian ceremonies is dropped. 

  • Ban on raising money for political purposes dropped. 

  • Consumption of liquor in public places is permitted. 

  • Retains the old objective of assimilating Natives into mainstream Canadian society. 

  • Inuit specifically are excluded from the Indian Act. ("A reference in this Act to an Indian does not include any person of the race of aborigines commonly referred to as Eskimos." - wording also included in a 1956 amendment).




  • Canadian Status Indians gain the right to vote in Federal Elections. (Note This is in the lifetime of many of my gentle readers!)

  • Ottawa begins to phase out Residential Schools (the last one closes 1988)



Changes to the registration system in the Indian Act is repealed so that entitlement was no longer based on sexually discriminatory rules. Among other things, Bill C-31, treats men and women equally; treats children equally whether born in or out of wedlock and whether they are natural or adopted; prevents anyone from gaining or losing status through marriage.

Important changes were made to Canada's Indian Act on June 28, 1985, when Parliament passed Bill C-31, an Act to Amend the Indian Act. Bill C-31 brought the Act into line with the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The three principles that guided the amendments to the Indian Act were:

  • removal of discrimination;

  • restoring status and membership rights; and

  • increasing control of Indian bands over their own affairs.

In addition to bringing the Indian Act into accord with the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Bill C-31 expanded band control over membership and community life, enabling Indian people to take an important step toward self-government.

  • C-31 changed the registration system so that entitlement was no longer based on sexually discriminatory rules.

  • The amendments, effective April 17, 1985:

    • treat men and women equally;

    • treat children equally whether they are born in or out of wedlock and whether they are natural or adopted;

    • prevent anyone from gaining or losing status through marriage;

    • restore Native status for those who lost it through discrimination or enfranchisement;

    • allow first-time registration of children (and in some cases descendants of subsequent generations) of those whose status is restored; and

    • allow for the registration of children born out of wedlock if either parent was a registered Indian, regardless of their date of birth.

The federal government continues to maintain the "Indian Register". Those who were recorded in the Indian Register when the amendments came into force continue to be recorded there. Those whose status was to be restored or who are eligible to be registered for the first time must apply to the Registrar to be recorded. Two categories of persons were excluded from registration under the C-31 provisions:

  • women who gained status only through marriage to a status Native, and later lost it (e.g. through re-marriage to a non-Indian); and

  • children whose mother gained Indian status through marriage and whose father is non-Indian.

Band Membership

  • Those who lost their membership in a band through sexual discrimination in the past, can apply to regain membership.

  • Bands can control their own membership based on their own membership rules.

  • Bill C-31 provides that, under the Indian Act, band membership rules respect two principles:

    • a majority of band electors consent to the band's taking control of membership, as well as to a set of membership rules; and

    • existing band members and those who are eligible to have band membership restored do not lose their entitlement to band membership because of something that occurred before membership rules were adopted.

    • Native women who married non-Native men now have the right to apply to have their Native status restored, and to pass their status on to their children. This also gives them the right to return to their reserves. Many meet with opposition from the band councils.

For more on Bill-C31  






I received an email from a retired tribal chief expressing his concerns about his recent tenure. He felt as an elected chief he felt he was simply administering the poverty of his people. He wondered what the differences were between elected and traditional chiefs.  I unearthed an article I'd written some time ago on the subject and personalized it for him. I've chosen not to use his name.



The following is correspondence I had with a former chief.

Dear Former Chief,

What happened in a nutshell is that the central government singled out our people as impediments to progress. To bring us under control our land and property rights were taken away and our treatment handed to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and other such government officials (i.e. Indian Agents) who were chosen over time to assist with repressing our basic freedoms and human rights. Essentially our people were under foreign rule and therefore we were forced to cede to the new policies and political structures; in so doing we lost our collective identity. This is why achieving any form of universal self-government is so difficult. The demands and prejudices of the central government and within our own Indigenous communities overrides any vestige of cultural identify, authenticity and sovereignty we may have left.

Prior to the turn of the century when the band council system replaced our time-honoured system of Traditional Chiefs an consensual decision-making ruled the day. It was a thoughtful, respectful, inclusive way of doing things. The Traditional Chief had no more power than any other tribal members he or she may have been distinguished by the passion of his/her oratory or by being a great warrior and setting good examples. Nonetheless, the chief had only one voice and was at the mercy of group decision-making.

You see, "back in the day" we were governed by the power of the Talking Stick and the Five Native Ethics, one of which was the Ethic of Non-Interference. In other words, if you and I were sitting together I would not impose my opinions or will on you in a shame-based manner as we do today. I would simply speak from my own truth as would you. No anger, no threats, no bad language, no behind the scenes subterfuge, no glad handing, no interference. The conversation would respectively go back and forth, or around the circle until consensus had been reached. In other words, everyone who wish to speak on a particular subject was heard and respected.

The Traditional Chief, in other words was not permitted to wield any form of personal power without, at the very least, being governed by a Council of Elders. For example, neither the Cherokee or the Haudenosaunne were permitted to go to war without the consent of a Council of Women. The Traditional Chief was then charged with the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the collective will of the Elders who were speaking on behalf of the people and ensuring that decisions were acted upon as decided. It was democracy in its highest and purest form.

The introduction of white, racist colonialism and assimilation policies changed all that. Over time, however, our Traditional Chiefs were replaced with elected ones who gained considerable power within Native communities. If an elected Chief is walking the walk and talking the talk in a good way, then there was nothing to worry about. If he is not, and seeks only to put forward a personal agenda then the problems are immediate and often devastating. Non-Indigenous elections, in my view are a very successful divide and conquer technique deliberately introduced in the Indian Act to keep us separated and at odds with one another. It is simply an arm of the government that breeds, jealousy, nepotism, greed, corruption, among other things. On top of this are a number of corrupt, misguided and racist government officials overseeing it all. It is, to say the least, an untenable situation.

I am not surprised that your tenure as Chief was a somewhat unhappy one. You sound like an honest, honorable man and I am sure you are very disappointed not having been able to move your people forward in a good way. Please keep in mind that none of it was your fault. You were hamstrung to the point of probably not being able to act all in some situations because your hands were effectively tied by those within and without your community who had their own political agendas and axes to grind.

The Ancestors smile on you for taking on the onerous task of Chief in the first place and to try to make a difference for your people.

May your Spirit be Strong, Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations

Shannon Thunderbird, M.A.
Coast Tsimishian First Nations Elder

More Information about Canada's Constitution,  its history & Timeline




  • Called for an end to any special status for Native people.

  • Its aim was to quickly culturally assimilate Native people into mainstream Canadian society.

  • The Indian Act would be repealed.

  • Government management on reserve lands would be dismantled.

  • All federal responsibilities for Native people would end.

(and Canadian Society was quick and furious)

  • Native leaders accused the government of cultural genocide and a "thinly disguised program of extermination through assimilation."

  • White Paper was quickly withdrawn by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Indian Affairs Minister Jean Cretien.

  • Native people issued their own response (1970) called the "RED PAPER", calling for, among other things, Indigenous land title, and self-government.


Holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength, Cree, Elijah Harper, NCP member of the Manitoba legislature, voted 'no' to a procedural vote which required unanimity to extend discussion of the Meech Lake Accord recognizing Quebec as a ‘distinct society’. Native leaders saw nothing in the Accord that advanced their quest for self-government and recognition as a distinct society.


In the Charlottetown Accord constitutional process, Indigenous and government leaders held constitutional talks on a proposal that recognized Indigenous peoples' inherent right to self-government. Ultimately, Canadians rejected the accord in a national referendum.



For more on the plight of Indigenous Women, the most Marginalized Citizens in Canada




  • Natives do not own title to reserve lands. This is being challenged. On March 2, 2002, the Haida people of Haida Gw'ai (Queen Charlotte Islands) filed suit claiming title to the Islands, surrounding water, gas and oil resources.

  • All personal property of Natives or Bands on reserve are not subject to mortgage or legal seizure. This makes it difficult for bands to finance on-reserve development since they cannot obtain bank loans.

  • Bands cannot sell or otherwise dispose of reserve lands without first surrendering it to the Crown.

  • Settlement of land claims on a case by case basis is enormously expensive and time consuming for both sides.  There lacks a cohesive agreement among Native Nations themselves to forge a comprehensive program on behalf of Native people as regards land claims and other Indigenous rights. The Assembly of First Nations, for example, does not speak for all Indigenous people.

  • Infighting, leadership struggles, power-over mentality, jealousy and resentment, the usual stuff that is pervasive among non-Native political institutions points Native organizations as well, as more and more Native groups drift away from their essential selves and their circular-based, consensus-building teachings. Yet, distrust runs deeply not only with opposing governmental and other authoritative forces, but within the Nations themselves. To become a third level of government requires ALL Native people to be onside and singing one glorious song.

  • Standards of living on many reserves (i.e., Davis Inlet) are far below even minimalist standards for the average Canada. Lack of clean water, electricity, paved roads. Despair is rampant as the forgotten Indigenous people of the north struggle with spousal abuse, drug and alcohol problems eight times the national average  Suicide among teens (15-17) is five times the national average.










Apartheid policies abounded in the post-European contact colonial world. There are more than enough similarities between Canada and South Africa to raise a red flag that South African officials came to Canada a few times in the late 1800s to see how a democratic country could go about oppressing its original citizens.

"Akin to the ways Indigenous resistance is and has been described as terrorist in Canada, Black resistance against the apartheid regime in South Africa was also deemed as terrorist and as a threat to the state and white South Africans. Like Canada, South Africa was a white settler state created through a process of the colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands.

In fact Canadian and South African officials shared colonial techniques. In the early 1900s South African officials came to Canada several times to study the colonial and reserve system set out in the Indian Act. Borrowing what they needed from these approaches, South African officials retuned to implant these highly racist tools in their own systems of segregation and apartheid."  ALSO:

General: Indian Act/Apartheid was imposed to cement control over national economic and social systems. They basically maintain white domination while keeping the offending racial groups separate. And so gradually over a relatively short spate of time, South African Blacks and Canadian Natives woke up to discover that "while they were not exactly slaves, they were pariahs in the lands of their births." (Sol Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa, pg. 21, 1916)



Department of Indian Affairs now Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was created to govern all aspects of Indigenous life.

The South African Native Affairs Commission (SANAC) was appointed to provide comprehensive answers to “the native question.” Its report (1905) proposed territorial separation of black and white landownership, systematic urban segregation by the creation of black “locations,” the removal of black “squatters” from white farms and their replacement by wage.

1850 - Better Protection of Lands and property of Indians in Lower Canada. Called Reserves. One reason for removal was discovery of - Gold, Oil and other Minerals.

Moved to specific Territories with 'forced' removals - Called Reserves then changed to Homelands -- One reason for removal was the discovery of Diamonds & Minerals.

1867 - Indian Act consolidated all legislation to do with blood quantum

1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent.

Department of Indian and Northern Affairs responsible for the classification of the citizenry by blood quantum.

The Department of Home Affairs oversaw colour classifications.

Deprived Citizenship

Deprived Citizenship

Segregated education, medical care and other public services all of which were inferior to the rest of Canadians.

Segregated education, medical care and other public services all of which were inferior to the rest of South Africans.

The 1867 Indian Act is an amalgamation of a variety of different pieces of legislation as shown above was the final step in a cotninuum of measures aimed at putting down independent Indigenous interests.

Called South Africa's Original Sin, the promulgation, in 1913, of the Native Land Act is viewed as the next step in a continuum of measures aimed at destroying independent African existence in the interest of White settlers. The Act set out to facilitate the formal establishment of African reserves. 7% of South Africa’s land area was set aside for this purpose and it was from these reserves that the mines and urban employers were to draw migrant labour Term "Reserve" later changed to "Homeland" - how ironic

Native, without citizenship and confined to reserves were not eligible for loans as they did not have collateral. Reserve land is Crown land and therefore not own by Natives

Under the Black (or Natives) Land Act No. 27 of 1913 Native Land Act. Black Africans were no longer be able to own, or even rent, land outside of designated reserves

Indian Act restricted movement off-reserve. Permits were required to leave restricted areas. If the time frame was exceeded, Natives were hunted down by the Indian Agents and jailed for violating the restrictions set out on the pass.

Restrictions on movement - Permits required to leave restricted areas - Native (Black) Urban Areas Act, No 21 of 1923.

Superseded by the Native (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act No 25 of 1945. Repealed by the Abolition of Influx Control Act No 68 of 1986.

1927 Amendment to the Indian Act banned Natives from raising money for political purposes.  Jailed for up to two months and fined.

In 1953, the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act were passed, which empowered the government to declare stringent states of emergency and increased penalties for protesting against or supporting the repeal of a law.

The penalties imposed on political protest, even non-violent protest, were severe. During the states of emergency which continued intermittently until 1989, anyone could be detained without a hearing by a low-level police official for up to six months.

Assembly of First Nations among other protest groups including American Indian Movement in the States.

No means of protest until the African National Congress was formed 1912

A crucial new element was evangelicalism, brought to the Cape by Protestant missionaries. The evangelicals believed in the liberating effect of "free" labour and in the "civilising mission" of British imperialism. They were convinced that indigenous peoples could be fully assimilated into European Christian culture once they had been 'civilized' & 'Assimilated' to the ways of the Europeans.


Indian Act banished Traditional Chiefs in favour of Elected Chiefs.

In addition to pushing Africans off the land, much was done to undermine the chieftain system of traditional African society as these tribal authorities acted as an independent political pole, which resisted these changes.