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Old News: Act Threatens Extinction Of Indian People?

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The article originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen in 1951.

A three-man delegation from the Six Nation Indian reservation near Brantford warned here yesterday that the passage of the Indian Act in its present revised form would threaten the Indian people with extinction In two years.

They said If the act became law, the Indians across Canada would become “bitter enemies” of the present federal government. The delegation centred Its fire on the compulsory enfranchisement clause of the act.

Under this clause, a government-appointed committee may enfranchise an Indian whether or not he has applied for such enfranchisement.

Once he Is given the vote, the Indian loses special reservation rights such as free schooling, free hospitalization and exemption from taxes.

The delegation objected to Section 4 of the Act giving the minister, in this case, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Walter Harris, unlimited powers with no recourse of appeal.

Criticism was also voiced to the provision under which an Indian who asks for the vote must sign a waiver eliminating his exemption from taxation.

Members of the delegations, who saw Mr. Harris, were: E. P. Garlow, chief councillor of the Six Nation Indian Council; A. C. Moses, council secretary; and James Powless, councillor.