Canada outlawed First Nations political activism until ~1970.

Excerpted from Whitey Don’t see that: The rising recognition of ‘white privilege’ in Western academia (PDF) by Momoko Price at The Ubyssey, November 2006:

Dominique Clement, a human rights historian at the University of Victoria, said researching the First Nations social movement during the 20th Century is a funny thing, because there are very few documents on the topic to research.

“First Nations is interesting. There’s very, very little written on First Nations human rights activism. There’s this weird period between 1910 and 1969 where First Nations were not terribly politically active.”

You might wonder why this might be the case. And unless you’re up-tospeed on graduate-level Canadian history, you probably won’t guess the real reason. It wasn’t simply because First Nations were poor, or displaced, or lacked support (though these reasons obviously contributed.) It was because Aboriginal activism was explicitly against federal law.

“In the early 20th Century, Aboriginal groups formed organisations to basically call for better conditions on reserves and call for education rights and things like that,” Clement explained. “Sometime in the early 1920s, the federal government essentially criminalised and put in the Indian Act that Aboriginal groups could not form political associations and they were also not allowed to litigate land claims…That lasted until about 1969.”

So until around 1970, less than 40 years ago, Aboriginal communities were not only legally ripped apart by abusive residential schooling systems, they were also legally prohibited from publicising or protesting their circumstances. Moreover, they were unable to fight for their own land.

It’s stains like these in the history of our cultural quilt that affect the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community today, but as Berg said about the nature of historical privilege and marginalisation, privilege to the privileged is nearly invisible, while marginalisation to the marginalised is glaring.


Clement, Baum, Bercuson and Berg— all prominent Canadian social scientists— agree that education
and awareness of our real history, with all the racism and injustice, is key to understanding how our
society works today. Because when it comes to race issues, the reason why things are ‘the way they are’
rarely, if ever, reflects solely what you think you see in front of you.

3 Responses to “Canada outlawed First Nations political activism until ~1970.”

  1. g531 Says:

    Thank you for posting this. Some of us in the U.S. tend to overlook our Northern indigenous neighbors and their plights, esp when they’re similar to ours.

  2. Senk'lip Says:

    Thanks for the posting. Knowing the legislation that was enacted to keep indigenous peoples from leaving the reserve or gathering more then three individuals was a common ritualistic norm on reserve, just as it was against legislation to hold traditional dances or potlatches until 1971.
    Knowing the system of registering children to become citizens is the ultimate genocide that has been perpentrated upon all peoples who believe they get a benefit when they get a Tax Identification Number in the company Canada Inc. it is called a SIN and in the company called the United States Inc. it is called a SSN. These are the biggest fraud known on the planet to pay your debt to society in the form of tax. Just like the even bigger fraud of paying for your sins every time you go to church.
    This is why church and State are one of the same based on the [t] account of debit and credit. For people who know what an unalienable right is, are those who may try to make a difference, those who believe in what is a bill of rights is believe they know how to make change and those who pay an accountant the right change don’t know what a right is.
    The first thing is to know what you are up against and then to know what to do about it. Here is just a bare basic reference something i just quickly googled for this quick message

    Click to access specialmaritimeexposed.pdf

    People are defined through language, culture, land base as distinct societies or groups of people. That is what determines custom. The English language is not a custom, it is the last language ever created. Here are two words to look up to begin jus soli, and jus sanguinis looking to define yourself. Take care Senk’lip

  3. urbia Says:

    Thanks for posting.

    I don’t even know about this law in my country’s recent history. This is very obscene.

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