APRIL 12, 1876


Upon its creation in 1867, Canada became responsible for Aboriginal affairs. The Indian Act provided the federal government with control over key aspects of Aboriginal life, e.g., Indian status, land, resources, education, and government. Initially, the Act aimed to assimilate First Nations. Indians earning college degrees lost Indian status, as did women who married non-status men. Some traditional practices were prohibited. At the same time, the Act created a fiduciary obligation to protect Aboriginal interests and lands reserved for Indian use. Hence, the Act is denounced for its paternalism, but relied upon for its protections, such as tax exemptions on the reserves. Some Aboriginal communities exempted themselves from the Act by signing treaties to form their own governments; others have acquired powers in the management of reserve lands and resources by signing onto the First Nations Land Management Act (enacted in 1999) while remaining subject to the Act. The Inuit and Métis are not governed by this law.

Source: Isabelle Montpetit, “Background: The Indian Act,” CBC, 5/30/2011.  Retrieved 8/13/2021, Background: The Indian Act | CBC News 
Statute:   Act of Union, 1867.  Courtesy Parliament Archives.  Permissive Use. 

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