Status Indians Could Legally be Extinct in 75
Condensed by Native Village
Professor Pamela Palmater has a dire
warning for First Nations people:
rights that set you apart from other
Canadians are dying out!
Pamela Palmater, a Ryerson
University associate, says status rights for First
Nations are slowly being legislated out of
existence. But few people, including many in
Canada's 633 First Nations, realize it.
Registration roll are declining, adults are dying
off, and birth rates for full-status children are
falling. This means the lands set aside for First
Nations will return to provincial control. Reserves
will be lost.
Some federal projections predict
many of the country's First Nation lands will be
dissolved within 75 years. An entire way of life
"I go around the world presenting this information
to people," Palmater said, "and they say, 'What? That can't be. You
have a Charter of Rights. A constitution that
protects aboriginal rights.'
"The thing is, a lot of this information doesn't
ever filter down to the people."
Palmater is the chairwoman of Ryerson's Centre for
Her new book, "Beyond Blood, Rethinking Indigenous
Identity," lays out the scenario for the legislative
extinction of Indian status.
Palmater's research shows the legislative foundation
dates back to the 1876 Indian Act.
Successive amendments have cemented the timeline to status extinction.
For years, lawyers have privately warned First
Nations leaders to do something. Otherwise, their
power base will disappear and treaty rights vanish.
First Nation leaders in British Columbia and
Ontario have issued explicit warnings to their
"There are some First Nations that in less than 75
years will be legally extinct," she said. "The people will still
be living. They will still be there but that means
there will be no legal land owners... and the land
goes back to the Crown.
"So your land's gone. You're no longer a community.
You can't exercise your aboriginal rights. Then what
about the treaties? If there are no treaty
beneficiaries, I guess you don't have to worry about
treaty rights, either."
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