“Indian” status

Since 1820, a series of laws had been adopted to define the role of Indigenous people in Canadian society. In the 1850s, the government passed a law to reserve 230 000 acres of Indigenous lands to protect them from colonial expansion. The government also defined what an “Indian” was. In doing so, Indigenous people became somewhat like minors, because they could not own property or vote. However, Indigenous people could emancipate themselves and become full citizens by renouncing their Indian status. What’s more, any Indigenous woman who married a white man lost her “Indian” status. In 1876, the Government of Canada passed the “Indian Act”, which upheld the laws that had been enacted before the creation of Canada.

Economic hardship

By 1905, it had become increasingly difficult for Indigenous people to earn a living. They were no longer able to sustain themselves solely through hunting because colonization and growing industries like hydroelectricity and pulp and paper had taken up more and more of the land. The still-nomadic communities often had to resign themselves to living on government reservations. Many communities continued to make handicrafts, which they sold in towns and in the United States.

Author: Alexandre Lanoix

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