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1857 - Gradual Civilization Act- Mandatory enfranchisement of any male Indian over 21 with elementary education

 The Gradual Civilization Act required the "enfranchisement" of any recognized male Indian over the age of 21 "able to speak, read and write either English or the French language readily and well, and is sufficiently advanced in the elementary branches of education and is of good moral character and free from debt."


 While "enfranchisement" sounds like something desirable - as it implies equal rights, an "enfranchised" Indian would no longer retain the "legal rights and habilities of Indians" and would "no longer be deemed an Indian" but a regular British subject, able to vote. This removes the Indigenous person from their community, and served to break up traditional ties. This resulted in reduction in tribal strength and community, and trauma to individuals separated from their people.

- Gradual Civilization Act


Digging Deeper



Solving the “Indian Problem” – Assimilation Laws, Practices, and Indian Residential Schools

"By 1841, Merivale developed and implemented four policy alternatives to be used to solve the “Indian Question.” They were direct and purposeful to say the least.1. Extermination (by death or enfranchisement),2. Slavery,3. Insulation (reserves) and/or4. Assimilation"


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