Indian Act refers to a legislation that was introduced by the British colonial government in Canada to control the expansion of the native populations through assimilation. Since the colonial administration was interested in establishing a Whiteman’s land in Canada, it was necessary to come up with legislations to officially enforce this. This explains why the act was enforced. Although it has remained up to date, it has had to undergo lots of amendments aimed at satisfying and responding to the public outcry. Through this act, the government has been able to control over the issues of India reserves, land use, education and healthcare. This paper gives a critical and in-depth analysis of the policies introduced by the Indian Act and their effects in Canada. It does this by focusing on how the act introduced changes into the Canadian society through the enforcement of assimilation through the ban on cultural practices; education; end of self-rule and the introduction of the ‘Indian Status.’ It also goes ahead to discuss about the effects of this act on the natives of this country.
Besides, the Indian Act introduced a policy of education to be observed by the native tribes in Canada. As the new legislation came into force, residential schools were introduced into the regions that were inhabited by the native Indians. Thus, formal education was availed to them and made compulsory to their children. Meaning, the Indian children, unlike their parents would get an opportunity to go to school and acquired modern education. To the colonial administration, the provision o formal education would help in fighting the out dated cultural and religious traditions of the Indians. At the same time, it would introduce a new set of British culture to these natives. Although this seemed to be a bright idea, it was not humanly enforced. First, it was forced on these people because education was made compulsory to all the children without considering whether they needed it or not. At the same time the coming of education really destabilized the Indian society because it took away children from their parents. This was not taken kindly because it broken the kinship ties that had be flourishing amongst these people. It was a clear way through which the colonial administration used its authority to suppress the Indians without ever seeking their opinion.
Lastly, the Indian Act introduced a new policy of the end of the previously existing self rule that was being enjoyed by the India community. With the enforcement of the act, the Indians would no longer be autonomous in their own ancestral home. Because they were now officially regarded s inferior individuals, they were really subjected to lots of mistreatments. The act deliberately denied them most of the fundamental rights which they were entitled to before hence, they could not make their own decisions and determine the destiny of the religion, culture, way of life and everything else they could do instead their inferior position would automatically subject the into a direct control by the government that had been elevated to a superior level by the act. For instance, the act introduced a new restriction to the Indians that they could no longer have an access to the court of law. This was came into force in 1927 when Section 141 was amended to bar the Indians from retaining a lawyer or conducting a fund raiser to retain a lawyer while making a claim against Canada. Unfortunately, this legislation was declared discriminatory because it allowed other people to enjoy the same.
Having looked at the various policies introduced b the Indian Act, it now time to shift gar and dig into the impacts of the policies on the Canadian society. Given that the act was intended to make life better for the Indians, it was fiercely opposed by them. On several occasions, it was faulted for being s discriminative on a section of the society that was stripped off its fundamental rights that it had been enjoying all along. First, the banning of the religious practices of the Indians was not perceived as a good idea. To the opponents of this act, even if the ceremonies like the Su Dance had some unpleasant elements, they were not to be ultimately banned. Despite their weaknesses, they had lots of benefits to the people who adore them. For instance, one of its major roles was to unite the people and strengthen the kinship ties between them. Meanwhile, the introduction of compulsory education was also criticized because of e manner it was done. Although it had good intensions, the government would not have used it to separate children from their parents. Also, it was not good for the act to deprive the Indians of their independence because they still needed it. The construction of the ‘Indian Status’ was not a good ideology to the natives. It was a bad news to them as it would introduce new and demeaning status for them many years to come.
In conclusion, the enforcement of the Indian Act really impacted on the lives of the Indians. Apart from introducing compulsory education to their children, it brought changes such as los of independence, dignity and freedom. At the same time, it lead to loss of the native cultural practices which had been playing a significant role in the life of the Indians. For this reason, the act had to be opposed by many people. It was discriminatory, annoying and irritating. Its tendencies of encouraging dominance over the Indian community were not received well. Even if it was aimed at assimilating the local populations, it was not t b used coercively this only proved that no one cared for the Indians at all.
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