“I think it is critical that non-Indigenous Canadians be aware of how deeply the Indian Act penetrated, controlled, and continues to control, most aspects of the lives of First Nations. It is an instrument of oppression,” (Joseph 4).
I didn’t learn about residential schools until I was in university and to this day I’m grateful for my professor for requiring we read some Indigenous authors and understand Canada’s history of colonialism and treatment of Indigenous peoples in order to fully understand the readings we were assigned. So in a way, I’m lucky that my white cisgender male professor chose to be transparent about Canada’s history, we could have spent the term reading Margaret Atwood but instead he chose to educate us about Canada’s history including it’s treatment of Indigenous people, which then prompted me into taking Indigenous literature courses while I was in university.
Because of this, I did know a lot of the things mentioned in Joseph’s book, but the reminder of it is still shocking. I still can’t believe that I was alive when the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996, that many Indigenous women lost their status when they married white men, how long it took to give Indigenous people the right to vote and even longer for Indigenous women. I also learned about the concept of Indigenous enfranchisement which I hadn’t known about before, and am absolutely amazed by the wealth of knowledge this book possesses. I also liked that this book included resources and activities in the end for any students or teachers who may be reading, making this book a valuable resource for change on understanding the history and bringing change to how Canada acknowledges and treats Indigenous communities.
21 Things You Didn’t Know About the Indian Act is an excellent starting point in educating Canadians who may not have been taught about residential schools or Canada’s history of colonialism and genocide against Indigenous people. It’s concise, to the point, and leaves room for reader’s to expand their own research which they will (hopefully) be prompted to do after reading this book.
Publication: April 10th 2018
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Pages: 160 pages (Paperback)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Indigenous, History, Canada, Education
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
Based on a viral article, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act is the essential guide to understanding the legal document and its repercussion on generations of Indigenous Peoples, written by a leading cultural sensitivity trainer.
Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has shaped, controlled, and constrained the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Peoples, and is at the root of many enduring stereotypes. Bob Joseph’s book comes at a key time in the reconciliation process, when awareness from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities is at a crescendo. Joseph explains how Indigenous Peoples can step out from under the Indian Act and return to self-government, self-determination, and self-reliance—and why doing so would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around truth and reconciliation, and clearly demonstrates why learning about the Indian Act’s cruel, enduring legacy is essential for the country to move toward true reconciliation.