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Can someone explain to me what the Indian reserves were used for in Lower Canada and what was the Indian Act, please?
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Explanation from Alloprof
This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.
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The Indian Act (1876):
Following the western colonization project and the reactions of the indigenous peoples, the government then in place believed that it was preferable to assimilate the Natives and better supervise them. The Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie thus passed the Indian Act in 1876. This law allowed the government to consider First Nations members as minors in the eyes of the law, thus removing all political power from them. It is important to specify that this law did not apply to the Inuit or the Métis. The government then believed that Natives people should abandon their culture and language in order to be assimilated into the religion and language of the province in which they were located (Protestantism and the English language in Ontario / Catholicism and the French language in Quebec). To achieve this, the Natives were forcibly sent to residential schools, where the religious authorities were given the mandate to assimilate them. It is important to know that the Indian Act still exists to this day.
The creation of Indian reserves in Lower Canada:
The Indian Act also allowed the federal government to dispossess Native people of their lands in exchange for money and certain services. In exchange for their ceded lands, the Native people received certain areas called “reserves” over which they had hunting and fishing rights, which they did not have outside of these reserves. On the other hand, these territories remained the possession of the federal government and the Native communities therefore had no autonomy in regards to their management. Reserves still exist today and still operate that way. However, Natives people have, in some cases, a little more autonomy and self-determination than they did then. Here is a map representing the main Reserves that can be found in the territory of Quebec in our days.
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To learn more about the Indian Act, I invite you to consult our fact sheet on this subject.
Do not hesitate to write to us if you have any other questions! :)