Considering the Indian Act has existed for decades and been through many changes, to what extent is the Indian Act relevant to First Nations people today? An Indian is the identity of a First Nations person -excluding the Metis and Inuit- that is registered under the Indian Act. (Indigenous Foundations). The Indian Act was first passed in 1876, by the Canadian government.
(Roberts, John. 96). The purpose of the Indian Act of 1876 was to assimilate First Nations people into the dominant culture. (Milloy, John S.
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21). However, the Indian Act today is a legislation that governs First Nations people in matters related to Indian status, reserves, and bands. (Canadian Encyclopedia). The historical significance of the Indian Act is that despite all the amendments, it still remains relevant because of how it benefits First Nations people. The Indian Act is relevant to First Nations people because it provides them with benefits to preserve their culture such as Indian status, exceptions on taxes, and reserves. The Indian Act provides First Nations people with Indian status. Indian status is relevant because it grants Indians identification of their identity and culture.
The Indian Register is a department where all the names of First Nations people are recorded, that are entitled to be registered as an Indian. (Justice Laws). This is important because it’s how First Nations gain their status through the Indian Act. Indian status is important because it offers First Nations people with their own rights. The McIvor v. Canada court case of 2009 was by an aboriginal women from British Columbia named Sharon McIvor. The purpose of the case was to end the discrimination against children, wives, and non-status Indians not being able to have Indian status. McIvor’s son could not pass on Indian status to his children, because he married a non-status Indian.
(CBC News). The cause of the case was to gain Indian status for McIvor’s grandchildren. The positive consequence was that she achieved gender equity and now eligible grandchildren are entitled to Indian status. This case is essential because McIvor wanted her grandchildren to have Indian status and it demonstrates how important Indian status is. According to the Indian Act, a First Nations person with both parents that have Indian status will have status under section 6 of the Indian Act. A First Nations person with one parent with status and one without will receive Indian status. (Justice Laws). Having Indian status is beneficial because it represents their Aboriginal ancestry.
Indian status is relevant to First Nations people today because it offers First Nations people with their own rights and is an identification of their culture till this day. The Act offers exceptions on taxes for First Nations people. The exceptions on taxes for First Nations people are relevant because it puts them at an advantage to maintain their reserves. According to the Indian Act, exceptions on taxes are eligible for First Nations people who earn their income on a reserve and if an Indian’s personal property or a band situated on a reserve.
(Justice Laws). This is an advantage because they will be able to support and afford their reserves. As stated in the Indian Act, “The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that this exemption is linked to the protection of reserve land and property.
The Court has concluded that the purpose of the exemption is to make sure tax does not erode the use of Indian property on reserves.” (Justice Laws). This is an advantage to First Nations people today because they would be able to maintain their reserves and therefore maintain their culture because they will not have to worry about losing their money to taxes.
The Bastien Estate v. Canada court case of 2011 is by a Huron-Wendat Nation Indian on the Wendake Reserve, who invested income in a bank and evaluated his income from the investment an “exempt from taxation” under the Indian Act. (Simon Fraser University). This court case proves that exceptions on taxes are an advantage because the Huron-Wendat Nation Indian would be free from paying taxes if his income from the investment is an “exempt from taxation”. Therefore, exceptions on taxes are relevant because it provides advantages for First Nations people to maintain their reserves. This links back to the thesis because, being able to maintain reserves will result in the continuity of preserving Indigenous culture.The Indian Act proposes reserves for First Nations people. Reserves are land set aside that is owned by the government for the use of Aboriginal people.
Reserves are relevant to First Nations people because it allows them to practice their culture. A reserve provides a community of First Nations people to practice their way of life through their customs and cultures. It also allows them to promote their cultural values and to raise their children in their ancestral homeland. (Indigenous Foundations). The purpose of reserves are beneficial and relevant to First Nations people today because of how it promotes their culture and how they will be able to continue practising their values and beliefs. As stated in the Indian Act, “…
for the purpose of Indian schools, the administration of Indian affairs, Indian burial grounds, Indian health projects or, with the consent of the council of the band, for any other purpose for the general welfare of the band, and may take any lands in a reserve required for those purposes.” (Justice Laws). The use of lands in a reserve are beneficial because it provides First Nations people with a variety of opportunities on how they use their reserves and it allows them to preserve their community. The Ross River Dena Council Band v. Canada court case of 2002 was by a First Nations community in Yukon that had wanted a refund on taxes that were paid on tobacco. If it was a reserve, then the refund would be provided.
However, it led to a disagreement whether or not it could be treated as a reserve. (Simon Fraser University). This court case proves that reserves provide benefits because exceptions on taxes are allowed.
Some people argue that reserves are a type of “apartheid” because of how they were created in isolated areas. However, this argument fails to consider that reserves allow First Nations people to preserve their own culture in those areas. Overall, reserves are beneficial to First Nations people today because it allows them to practice their culture. The Indian Act remains relevant nowadays due to the Indian status, exceptions on taxes, and reserves it offers to conserve their culture. Indian status grants Indians identification of their identity.
The exceptions on taxes puts them at an advantage because of how it maintains their reserves. Also, reserves provide First Nations people with benefits in terms of how it promotes their culture. Changes will result in a positive, beneficial outcome that would affect people for generations.