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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.

Title : 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality
Author : Bob Joseph
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 201
Genre : non-fiction
Publisher : Indigenous Relations Press
Release Date : April 10, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated

Hollis’ unrated review

I don’t rate non-fiction but if I did this would get five stars. This was never going to be a comfortable experience but the way this guide was broken down, the way it made the policies and regulations easy to understand, and then how that related in the moment, and the impacts (both then and now), was done so well. It felt like the perfect way to begin this journey of learning, understanding, and reconciliation; because this is far from the end of it.

The tragic reality is that what should have been a positive and respectful code of conduct degenerated over time into one in which government policies led to cultural genocide, assimilation, theft of land, denial of treaty and constitutional rights, racism, and increasingly punitive laws meant to control every aspect of the lives and deaths of the original inhabitants of what is now Canadian territory.

This history (which is not actually history but still ongoing) is horrible, upsetting, and in some cases absolutely diabolical. Watching it unfold, seeing how these regulations were put in place and modified or amended when it suited, was just.. stunning. As in I was stunned stupid by it. Reading the chapter(s) on the residential schools would’ve been horrible at any point but is especially awful in light of the discoveries from the past few weeks. Which just goes back to my point that this isn’t historical; we are living it even now.

Aboriginal Peoples have preserved their identities under adverse conditions. They have safeguarded their traditions during many decades when non-Aboriginal officials attempted to regulate every aspect of their lives.

This should be required reading for every Canadian currently living on this land but also for everyone beyond. Highly recommend you pick this up and I hope to have many more recommendations for you as I discover them myself.

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