Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has dictated 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 examines how Indigenous Peoples can 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 the Indian Act, and demonstrates why learning about its cruel and irrevocable legacy is vital for the country to move toward true reconciliation.
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Bob Joseph, founder of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., has provided training on Indigenous relations since 1994. As a certified Master Trainer, Bob has assisted both individuals and organizations in building Indigenous relations. His Canadian clients include all levels of government, Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, including the World Bank, small and medium-sized corporate enterprises, and Indigenous Peoples. He has worked internationally for clients in the United States, Guatemala, Peru, and New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Bob Joseph is an Indigenous person, or more specifically a status Indian, and is a member of the Gwawaenuk Nation. The Gwawaenuk is one of the many Kwakwaka’wakw tribes located between Comox and Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia. He comes from a proud potlatch family and is an initiated member of the Hamatsa Society. As the son of a hereditary chief, he will one day, in accordance with strict cultural laws, become a hereditary chief.
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“I have a deep hope for Canada that there can be reconciliation. I want every Canadian to imagine a Canada in which every person will live with dignity, value, and purpose. But to do that, there must be reflection on our shared history and the harmful periods and events that continue to haunt us as a nation. Understanding the Indian Act is fundamental to understanding why those harmful periods and events took place. Bob Joseph’s book is an invaluable tool for Canadians who want to understand the past in order to contribute to reconciliation in our country.”
--Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C., Ambassador, Reconciliation Canada
“From declaring cultural ceremonies illegal, to prohibiting pool hall owners from granting Indigenous Peoples entrance, from forbidding the speaking of Indigenous languages, to the devastating policy that created residential schools, Bob Joseph reveals the hold this paternalistic act, with its roots in the 1800s, still has on the lives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada in the twenty-first century. This straightforward book is an invaluable resource. There is much for non-Indigenous people to learn and to do. But equally important, there is much to unlearn and to undo. The time is right for this book. Thank you, Bob Joseph. Gilakas’la.”
--Shelagh Rogers, O.C., Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
“Increasing Canadians' knowledge about the terrible foundation this country has been built on is a critical part of reconciliation. Bob Joseph has highlighted some of the unbelievable provisions of the Indian Act and how they have impacted First Nations in Canada, and gives a brief overview of what we may replace it with going forward. His book provides helpful context to the dialogue that needs to take place in Canada.”
--Kim Baird, O.C., O.B.C.; Owner, Kim Baird Strategic Consulting; Member of the Tsawwassen First Nation
Consultant and author Joseph (Working with Indigenous Peoples) mines excerpts from the notorious 1876 Indian Act to illustrate the legislated roots of land dispossession and forced relocation, denial of voting and mobility rights, targeted campaigns to destroy traditional languages and cultural practices. He also ties it to the development and growth of a residential school system deemed "cultural genocide" by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and a slew of economic and social barriers that prevented many First Nations from accessing the essentials of survival. Joseph presents straightforward examples that shock and enrage such as prohibitions on indigenous people hiring legal counsel and bars against them entering pool halls and he packs an extra punch with alarming quotes from late-19th- and early-20th-century Canadian leaders who in no uncertain terms touted their goal of eliminating the continent's first peoples. Joseph's appendices historical timeline, glossary, classroom discussion guide, recommended readings, and the landmark TRC's calls to action on indigenous rights expertly complement his all-too-brief prescriptions for dismantling the still extant act. This pocket-size primer is a perfect introduction to a troubling legacy with which Canadians continue to wrestle.