“The question is, should Canada abolish the Indian

“The Indian Act is the principal status
through which the federal government administers Indian Status of local First
Nations governments and management of reserve land and communal money” The
Indian Act was first introduced in 1876 by combining the existing ordinances
which was to eradicate First Nations culture in favor of assimilation into
euro-Canadian society. This Act gave the Canadian Federal government the power
to regulate day to day affairs of Registered Indians on and off Reserves. This
enabled the government to exploit and lay down rules to benefit themselves. So,
the question is, should Canada abolish the Indian Act? There are valid points
on both sides of the arguments, meaning the answer isn’t black and white like
most people think. And like most debates there are two sides to pick for this
question. One side is Indian Act should be abolished because it created
inequality among people in Canada, it created ways to take away aboriginal people’s
status and, their way of life such as their traditions, most importantly their culture
was nearly destroyed because of the Indian Act. The other side that supports
the Indian Act says that the Act provided aboriginal people with many new
opportunities in the area of business, it gave aboriginal people provisions and
resources yearly to help keep their lives afloat and, a large number of aboriginal
people consider the Indian Act as a part of their identity and derive meaning
for their life from it.

The primary reason why people support the
repealing of the Indian Act is because it is the root cause of aboriginal
suffering in Canadian history. The Indian Act is seen as a poor attempt by the
Canadian government to deal with aboriginal people. The Indian Act created an unsafe
environment for the First Nations people that was filled with inequality,
injustice and prejudice. Their identity was forced to be given up through many
ways and Indian Act allowed for one of the biggest cultural genocides in North
America. The act created inequality through the creation of the reserve system.
The reserves put them in the same position as someone who doesn’t own the land
they live on. A quote from National Post says “The Act and the “reserve system” should have long been
respectively repealed and eliminated to give way to the inertia of the healing
and rejuvenation of a precious culture.” The main point from this quote
is that in order for aboriginal people to heal fully The Indian Act has to be
removed from legislation. Being Indian in Canada is not just a cultural
identity but also a legislative category. The Indian Act legislated who is
Indian and who is not rather than the aboriginal communities themselves. For
example, under the Act Metis and Inuit people are not historically recognized
and do not have status despite being Indigenous to Canada. The term “Indian”
itself was used as something to classify aboriginals as so the Europeans could
have power and authority over them. In any situation whether they had the Indian
Status or not, aboriginals were considered inferior to the white society.
Finally, the act was a catalyst for the assimilation of the First nations
peoples’ tradition and culture. The settlers view for Canadas future had no
place for Aboriginal people and the base of Indian Act was built upon that.
Residential schools and the reserves are a great example of Canadian
governments attempt to assimilate First Nations. All of these have made
repealing Indian Act a favourable option.

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The counter-argument for repealing the
Indian Act is that it provides many benefits for the First Nations we don’t
see. Majority of the people only see the negatives because it was a
controversial piece of legislature. Despite this controversy the Indian Act is
a significant part of history for aboriginal people. It shows the relationship
aboriginal people have with the Canadian government. The act provides benefits for
the people that have the Indian status such as offering help for to ensure
aboriginal youth have the support to gain employment, provides health related
goods, provide financial assistance to get into post-secondary school and many
more. The Indian Act is also piece of legislature that is proof of the
governments commitment towards the Aboriginal people. One aboriginal leader
said “We do not want the Indian Act
retained because it is a good piece of legislation. It isn’t. It is
discriminatory from start to finish. But it is a lever in our hands and an
embarrassment to the government, as it should be. No just society and no
society with even pretensions to being just can long tolerate such a piece of
legislation, but we would rather continue to live in bondage under the
inequitable Indian Act than surrender our sacred rights.” This statement
summarizes what a huge part of aboriginal people feels about the Indian Act.
They don’t want centuries of abuse, assimilation and injustice being swept
aside and forgotten by the government. This is compelling argument makes
repealing the Indian Act that much harder.

This is a controversial Issue that affects
everyone that lives in Canada and I believe that rather than repealing the
Indian Act or keeping it the way its right now, the Act should be amended in
order to reflect the current needs of the aboriginal people. The Indian Act is
reminder of what the Canadian government owes the aboriginal people, removing
it completely will give a free pass to the government for what they did to the
First Nations the past couple centuries. Leaving Indian Act alone without any
amendments will also be a missed opportunity by government to seek forgiveness from
the aboriginal people. Not changing or making any amendments will also leave
the aboriginal people in a cycle of poverty and dependence they are living in. The
reason why I say making amendments to the already existing Indian Act is the
best option is because both sides of the arguments in paragraph 1 and paragraph
2 makes points that you can not over look. So, moving forward there has to be a
solution where both sides of this controversial debate are satisfied and the
aboriginal peoples current needs of the aboriginal people are addressed. Therefore,
in my opinion the best way to go forward with this issue is to make amendments
to the Indian Act.

In summary, making amendments to the Indian Act to reflect the needs of
the Aboriginal people in this modern era is a the most effective way to treat this
issue. Repealing the Indian Act because it allowed for the assimilation of
aboriginal culture or because it was a tool used by the government to have power
over the native people of Canada will not solve this issue. The Indian Act as a
piece of legislation needs to be understanded thoroughly before we ask the
question of abolishing it. It has a huge unseen meaning towards a lot First
Nations people. Considering everyone’s opinion and voice will be necessary in
order to find the correct solution.