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Canada’s Shame: The Oppression Of Aboriginal Women In The Indian Act

1652 words - 7 pages

The topic for our research paper is oppression against women in the Indian Act. Discrimination against Aboriginal people has been a key issue for many years; however society generally skims the surface of this act and tends to give lip service to it without acknowledging the deeper issue of how these oppressions come with it. In the beginning of our research we quickly made a parallel between the oppression of Aboriginal women and the injustices they face and the breakdown in Aboriginal families and communities. As future social workers working from an anti-oppressive practice perspective the proposed research will help acquire the knowledge in building transformative politicized social work. Our team feels that by focusing on the female gender and how these women throughout history have been oppressed we will be able to perform our roles as social workers from a truly empathetic position; thus our future work with all aboriginal people will be more effective.
In this proposal our team seeks to explore the injustices within the Indian Act. To achieve this our proposed research will examine the target population being the aboriginal woman. The paper will further explore the oppressions faced by the aboriginal women within the Indian Act. In conclusion, this proposal will sum up the negative impact that the Indian Act had on aboriginal women and how it continues to oppress this population within the Canadian National discourse.
The Indian Act
Oppression is not always brought on in a violent and oppositional way, it can take on a peaceful and silent form; however regardless of the way oppression is introduced, it maintains the same characteristics of “imposing belief systems, values, laws and ways of life on other groups…” (Baines, 2007, p. 2). The Indian Act of 1867 though not legislated through violence, imposes belief systems from a European cultural view onto the Aboriginal people. The Indian Act determines who is and is not an Indian, furthermore it was amended in 1869 to infuse patrilineage so that an Indian was defined as any person
Mensah, Zaprawa 3
where father or husband was a registered Indian. The ultimate goal of the Indian Act was “one of assimilation and the arduous task of civilizing the savages – a national agenda.” (Gehl, 2000, p.64).
What Injustices do the Women Face?
According to Lynn Gehl, women who marry outside their own community lose their status within those boundaries and will not be able to regain their original level of influence upon transferring to their husband’s community. The Indian Act marginalized women and made them an outsider within their own culture (Ghel, 2000, p.67). This oppression stripped women of their rights socially, politically and economically and made them dependant people by European standards. The Indian Act took away the voice and influence aboriginal women had in their communities by creating a sexist environment dominated by their male counterpart....

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