1969 - June 25, Canada: the White Paper

The ‘White Paper’ inspires a roar of Indigenous opposition because this policy seeks to dismantle the Indian Act and all Indigenous legal affairs.

Without the Indian Act, ‘status-Indians’ (ie., Indigenous peoples registered under the Indian Act) would be absorbed into the dominant Canadian society and lose Indian status. Although not all Indigenous peoples have Indian status, getting rid of the status system without a proposed alternative means that there would be no legal distinction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Indian status also guarantees “certain rights and benefits” such as Non-Insured Health Benefits and some tax exemptions.

Lastly, the ‘White Paper’ also proposes turning reserve land into fee-simple property. Reserve land is held by the Crown for the use of Indigenous bands. Turning reserve land into private property would open the reserve up for non-Indigenous and non-band members to purchase property there. Moreover, getting rid of the reserve system would mean that band councils would no longer be able to exercise political control.

Image source: p.36 of Akwesasne Notes, Vol 2 No1, 1969.