The Mi’kmaq are subject to the Indian Act, which dates from 1876 and was originally designed to assimilate Indigenous Peoples into Canadian society. The obligations and rights contained in the Indian Act have changed since it was created in 1876; Indigenous Peoples have negotiated changes with the government over time. This law now defines certain obligations of the federal government toward Indigenous Peoples. This law also defines Indigenous People’s rights to manage land, their affairs, and to determine who has ‘Status’.

Indigenous Peoples with ‘status’ have a different rights than of other Canadians. They do not pay taxes on goods and services purchased in the reserves, but these stores are rare. Individuals that have ‘status’ do not pay federal and provincial taxes on income earned in a reserve; however, jobs on reserves are limited and many people must work off of their reserve and pay income taxes on their earnings.

There are many different opinions on the Indian Act; some people think that the Indian act gives privileges, while others think that it oppresses Indigenous populations. We encourage you to learn more about the Indian Act using resources from Indigenous and non-Indigenous sources. Remember, not every Indigenous person has ‘status’. There is a long history of how has and has not been granted ‘status’ that we encourage you to learn about.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social. Adaptions by LEARN.

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