The Indian Act is the statute through which the federal government administers Indian status, local First Nations governments and the management of reserve land and communal monies. It was first introduced in 1876 as a consolidation of previous colonial ordinances that aimed to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act has been amended several times, most significantly in 1951 and 1985, with changes mainly focusing on the removal of particularly discriminatory sections.

The Indian Act pertains only to First Nations peoples, not to the Métis or Inuit. It is an evolving document that has had enormous impacts on Aboriginal life. The Act outlines  fiduciary obligations to First Nations peoples with ‘status’ — a legal recognition of a person’s First Nations heritage, which affords certain rights such as the right to live on reserve land.

Status Indian refers to a specific legal identity of an Aboriginal person in Canada based on a blood quantum. With the creation of the Indian Act in 1876, the Canadian government developed criteria for who would be legally considered an Indian. This criteria continues to be outlined in Section 6 of the Indian Act, thus defining who qualifies for Indian status.

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established in the 1870’s to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Originally conceived by Christian churches and the Canadian government, Indian residential schools were an attempt to both educate and convert Indigenous youth and to integrate them into Canadian society. Residential schools disrupted lives and communities, causing an array of long-term problems among Indigenous peoples all across Canada. Many former students began to press for recognition and restitution which resulted in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007 as well as a formal public apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008. In total, an estimated 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children attended residential schools between 1870 and 1996.

Intergenerational trauma is the transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations. There is evidence of the impact of intergenerational trauma on the health and wellbeing and on the health and social disparities facing Aboriginal peoples in Canada and other countries.



Its important to be reminded of the beauty in the Indigenous cultures. This highly interactive and engaging cultural site uses multi-media and provides deep thought provoking information about Turtle Island and Indigenous perspectives.

First Nations Education Steering Committee

FNESC works at the provincial level to provide services in the areas of research, communications, information dissemination, advocacy, program administration and networking.