Understanding and Navigating the Indian Act

Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, provides that “Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians” are the federal government’s judicial responsibility. To deal with these two subject matters, Parliament consolidated the Indian Act in 1876. Since then, the Indian Act has received several amendments over the years but remains s. 91(24)’s operant statute.


The Indian Act is a paternalistic and discriminatory statute. For example, it has been used to deny Indian status to Indigenous women and has imposed the band council system of administration on Indigenous communities.


But, despite its appalling and controversial history, the Indian Act remains an important piece of legislation because Canada’s Constitution Act, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the historic treaties all reference the term “Indian(s).” This term, and its historical and contemporary uses, allows for Indigenous people to hold a special place under Canadian law. Thus, it is important for Indigenous persons and communities to understand the Indian Act and its provisions.


Our Services


Paquette and Associates can help Indigenous persons and/or communities with:


  • Registering for Indian Status under s. 6
  • Taking control of band membership under s. 10
  • The provisions dealing with the election of Chiefs and Band Councils under s. 74-80
  • The provisions dealing with the powers of Band Councils under s. 81-86; and
  • All other sections of the Indian Act


Author: Joshua A. Sinoway


The information provided in this Article is not intended to be professional advice, and should not be relied on by any reader in this context. For advice on any specific matter, you should contact legal counsel, or contact Rachael Paquette. Paquette & Associates Lawyers disclaims all responsibility for all consequences of any person acting on or refraining from acting in reliance on information contained herein.