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1880 - Any Indian with a degree was automatically enfranchised

Enfranchisement of any First Nation admitted to university

 (1880 amendment) 





"Any Indian who may be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, or to 

any other degree by any University of Learning, [...] may upon petition to the Superintendent-General, ipso facto become and be enfranchised under the provisions of this Act; and the 

Superintendent-General may give him a suitable allotment of land from the lands 

belonging to the band of which he is a member. "-


The ultimate purpose of enfranchisement (loss of status rights) was to encourage 

assimilation/civilization and to reduce the number of *Indiansthe federal government 

was financially responsible for. If you gave up your status you gave up associated rights and benefits.


The result was catastrophic to communities who were losing members at an astonishing rate. In the Memorial to His Excellency Sir Edmund Walker Head from the Oneida Indians of Muncey Town and other Bands on the River Thames, 1858, The Oneida Indians wrote:

 "It is with feelings of sorrow that we hear of the act passed for the purpose of allowing the Indian to enfranchise if he feels desirous of doing so, we are sorry that such an inducement is held out to separate our people. If any person availing himself of this enfranchisement act should fail to do well and lose his little piece of ground — he is forbidden to ever return to his tribe. All red men are brethren and our hearts would bleed to see one of our brethren wandering about the highway without the right of returning to his tribe when in distress." RCAP


Digging Deeper


Article: 21 Things You Might Not Know About the Indian Act -

High School Resources



Junior High School Resources



Elementary School Resources





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