The Indian Act
The Mi’kmaq are subject to the Indian Act, which dates from 1876 and was designed to assimilate Aboriginal people into Canadian society. This law defines certain obligations of the federal government toward Aboriginal Peoples. This law also gave them more powers to manage their reserve lands, to manage their affairs and to determine who is a Status Indian.
Status Indians have a different status from that of other Canadians. They do not pay taxes on goods and services purchased in the reserves, but these stores are rare. Aboriginal people do not pay federal and provincial taxes on income earned in a reserve. However, this is of little benefit since many Aboriginals must work outside the reserve, and they then pay income taxes like other citizens.
The provisions of the Indian Act are often seen as giving privileges to Aboriginal Peoples. In fact, their quality of life is lower than that of the general Canadian population. Their life expectancy is lower, they have few job prospects and experience major social problems. In addition, on Indian reserves, they do not own the land on which their house is built.
Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social