An Exploration of the Colonial Impacts of the Indian Act on Indigenous Women in Canada

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Deschambault, Mackenzie




This dissertation explores the impacts of the Indian Act on Indigenous women in Canada. Indigenous women saw their identities as leaders and matriarchs mediated through colonial legislation that deemed them "less Indian" than their male counterparts. Paternalistic policies against Indigenous women were internalized by Indigenous communities, resulting in high rates of abuse and inequality today. Indigenous women are reclaiming their rights through Court cases that challenge gender-discriminatory Indian Act provisions, including the Descheneaux case, which challenged Canada to address the discrimination and sexism disproportionately affecting Indigenous women. However, Canada continues to define Indian Status based on historic colonial legislation such as the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869. Individuals with ancestors that lost status before 1869 are not recognized as Indians in Canada. Indigenous peoples continue to be imprisoned by colonial policies regarding their identity, disproportionately affecting Indigenous women as they have never had equal status provisions under the Indian Act.


Women's Studies
Canadian Studies




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Legal Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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