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Bob Joseph: Why the Indian Act must go and Canada will be better for it

Bob Joseph: Why the Indian Act must go and Canada will be better for it

By Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterCampbell River Replicate

Sat., Feb. 6, 20215 min. learn

Early Newspaper

Supreme week in a digital Q & A session, Indigenous creator Bob Joseph used to be requested “How will folk know that they’ve accomplished reconciliation?”

Joseph answered, “When folk are at peace with the previous.”

The first step is shifting away from the Indian Act, in accordance to Joseph, who advocates for First Countries heading towards self-governance, self-reliance and self-determination.

The bestselling creator of ‘21 Things You Would possibly maybe No longer Know About the Indian Act’ has been enabling discourse about the act, since his 2015 blog submit about the legislation went viral. In Canada, many folk are soundless oblivious to the Indian Act, says Joseph.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re soundless in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

Since it used to be first passed in 1876, the Indian Act has undergone quite just a few amendments but it soundless stands as legislation, governing matters touching on Indian space, bands and reserves, among other things.

The legislation – first and foremost created to ‘assimilate’ Indigenous folk into mainstream Canadian lifestyles and values – is a paradox wherein both the rights of Indigenous folk and their bondage co-exist.

And whereas some Indigenous groups beget known as for its dismissal due to what beget been known as its regressive and paternalistic excesses, others beget resisted its abolition.

Joseph is a member of the Gwawa’enuxw Nation, Gayaxala (Thunderbird) clan, who grew up in Campbell River. He believes the Indian Act must go, merely because it used to be unsuccessful (and now out of date) in its customary cause of assimilating Indigenous folk into the political and financial mainstream.

“If anything else, it (the Indian Act) has saved Indigenous folk separate beneath diverse rules and beneath diverse lands,” he stated.

In a digital seminar final week hosted by the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Joseph interacted with extra than 500 viewers. He equipped insights into the legislation’s historical previous before discussing up-to-the-minute day alternatives that would possibly maybe well substitute the Indian Act.

By 21 aspects Joseph not handiest highlighted the aged nature of the legislation but additionally why it is relevant to understanding reconciliation going forward – particularly at a time when Canada is endeavor a commitment to the United Countries Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Before some of its amendments, the Indian Act denied Indigenous space to ladies folk, launched residential colleges, created reserves, renamed folk with European names, restricted First Countries from leaving reserves without permission from Indian Agents, expropriated portions of reserves for roads, railways, and many others, imposed the ‘band council’ gadget and created other non-public and cultural tragedies on First Countries.

Despite that, it used to be legally vital for Indigenous peoples. For instance, in 1969 when High Minister Pierre Trudeau’s white paper policies proposed to abolish it, Aboriginal leaders all over Canada adverse the jog. Since the Indian Act affirms the historical and constitutional relationship Aboriginal peoples beget with Canada, they wanted it to legally rob the Indian space and the rights that it afforded them.

This paradox, Joseph identified, has created a relationship wherein Indigenous folk are reckoning on the federal government. Even this day, these concerns remain when discussions about breaking away from the Indian Act comes up.

“I hear folk assert me ‘we beget to be definite that we provide protection to our space’” He reminds them that idea is “truly an goal of the Indian Act” which retains them tied to it. The Indian act will never reduction them grow their nation and their folk – “it’s not designed to place that.” For this reason First Countries must obtain a better formulation, spoil the cycle of dependency and give formulation to self determination, self reliance, and self governance.

“A site to go searching for for alternatives already exists,” he says, pointing to up-to-the-minute day treaties in B.C. fancy the Nisga’a Treaty and the Westbank First Nation Self-government Agreement from the early 2000’s.

“The Nisga’a Treaty got rid of the Indian Act, they were ready to salvage adjust and jurisdiction over lands and resources and the ability to beget choices about those lands and resources.”

Nonetheless he also stated that these treaties will not be necessarily a one-dimension-fits-all framework that will work for all Countries. Every community must arrive at a mannequin that works best for them thru negotiations.

Here’s where information of historical previous is accessible in handy – for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous folk – as a highly efficient medium to enact just reconciliation.



As folk become privy to the historical previous of Indigenous folk in Canada thru the ages, there is a fantastic broader scope of conversation that can be had in families, tutorial institutions, locations of fancy and many others.

He urges folk to learn about historical previous and then beget a non-public pledge to reconciliation – which is going to take “political will, information and understanding and empathy.”

“Reconciliation has to be a grassroots circulate and not by politicians,” he says.

Because when it comes to one thing as major as reconciliation, politics “holds assist” the strategy of shifting away from the Indian Act as “politicians are all over the site,” with government agendas changing every four years.

“I would rather dangle my hat on folk in Canada to place reconciliation. That looks to beget plenty extra longevity.”

When political agendas reach into the assert, conversations pivot to the “tag of swap,” that First Countries are asking for.

To force dwelling the level, Joseph provides an instance from the early ’90s when he had a conversation with a community of of us that were unnerved after a front-net page article in the Vancouver Sun bringing up Indian land claims would possibly maybe well tag taxpayers $10 billion.

“I told them this used to be a mammoth article. It talks to you about the tag of swap, but it doesn’t confer with you about the tag of not changing it,” he stated and added, tag of years-long excellent battles, loss of declare investments and jobs and many others, in a roundabout arrangement pause up costing governments extra than the estimated tag of swap.

“So I are trying to assert taxpayers, search for, if it’s money you’re unnerved about, if that’s what makes your world go spherical. I will permit you to know in reality, it will be more cost-effective to resolve land claims quicker than it is to let them fester.”

Such components resurface at diverse intervals of historical previous, he warns, relating to the ongoing Wet’suwet’an pipeline battle in B.C. and it’s all because there’s no relationship with Indigenous folk.

“We’re not paying consideration to their concerns.”

Which is why in retrospect, Joseph says it would be more cost-effective to jog away from the Indian Act and beget mutually beneficial relationships.

“It will be better for the nation.”

Bob Joseph: Why the Indian Act must go and Canada will be better for it