January 9, 2013

What does “status” mean in the Canadian First Nations context?

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:23

If you’re confused by the current debate over First Nations people and their relationship with the Crown, you’ll probably want to read âpihtawikosisân‘s explanation of “status” and other terms-of-law that are used in these discussions:

It has been my experience that many Canadians do not understand the difference between Status and membership, or why so many different terms are used to refer to native peoples. The confusion is understandable; this is a complex issue and the terms used in any given context can vary greatly. Many people agree that the term ‘Indian’ is a somewhat outdated and inappropriate descriptor and have adopted the presently more common ‘First Nations’. It can seem strange then when the term ‘Indian’ continues to be used, in particular by the government, or in media publications. The fact that ‘Indian’ is a legislative term is not often explained.

As a Métis, I find myself often answering questions about whether or not I have Status, which invariably turns into an explanation about what Status means in the Canadian context. The nice thing is, as time passes, fewer people ask me this because it does seem that the information is slowly getting out there into the Canadian consciousness.

To help that process along, I figured I’d give you the quick and dirty explanation of the different categories out there. Well…quick is subjective, I am after all notoriously long-winded.

H/T to Andrew Coyne, who retweeted the link from @romeoinottawa.

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