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The Indian Act: A Two-Eyed Exploration

Featuring Jenn Smith of Tlowitsis First Nation

July 20th and August 17th ~ 6-8pm PST

Part One 

We’ll begin by learning about the history of the Indian Act.


  • 1857 The Gradual Civilization Act
  • 1867 Canada was born
  • 1876 - 19 years later, the Gradual Civilization Act became the Indian Act
  • Present day - the Indian Act continues to be a mechanism to categorize and control the lives of First Nations People from cradle to grave

The Indian Act is a Canadian federal law that governs in matters pertaining to Indian status, bands, and Indian reserves. It is the oldest piece of legislation, even pre-dating the ‘birth’ of Canada. By way of the Indian Act, the Canadian federal government regulates and administers in the affairs and lives of registered Indians and reserve communities. We’ll learn about how the Indian Act is a part of a long history of assimilation policies that intended to terminate the cultural, social, economic, and political distinctiveness of First Nations people by absorbing them into mainstream Canadian life and values.


Part Two

In this session we’ll focus on the historical and current-day impacts of the Indian Act. We’ll review colonial government systems (Bands), myths and stereotypes.

While the Indian Act has undergone numerous amendments since it was first passed in 1876, today it largely retains its original form. The Indian Act is administered by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), formerly the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND). The Indian Act is and continues to be a mechanism to categorize and control the lives of First Nations People. It imposed great personal and cultural tragedy on First Nations, many of which continue to affect communities, families and individuals today.


Please note: Session replay will be available for 30 days from date of recording.