1960 Political Enfranchisment of Indigenous Peoples

In 1960, John Diefenbaker passed legislation (Bill C-2 and Bill-C3) that amended the Indian Act that guaranteed federal franchise to status men and women in a way that did not compromise their status. Bill C-2 repealed subsection (2) Section 86 of the Indian Act which prevented those with Indian status from voting. Bill C-3 amended the Canada Elections Act, assuring federal franchise without compromising one’s Indian status to both men and women. The response to federal enfranchisement was mixed, individuals fearing that despite the Government’s promises they would lose their Treaty Rights and status if they voted at the polls. Historically, promises and assurances made by the Federal Government to Indigenous peoples were often disregarded or disingenuous altogether, this caused a lack of trust in the Federal Government’s intentions regarding enfranchisement.

Date Explanation
1920: Federal franchise was extended in 1920 to Indians living off-reserve and Aboriginal veterans who had fought in the Canadian army, navy, or air force - regardless of whether they were on or off-reserve. However, only those who were considered more 'civilized' were given the right to vote, as government officials considered them more likely to support Colonial government initiatives.
1950: The right to vote was extended to all those with status, under the condition that they gave up their tax-exempt Indian status. Meaning, that any person who was "non-status" was eligible to vote; however, barriers to accessing the vote still remained (this clearly being one of them).

Section 9.12. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991).

Native Brotherhood of British Columbia. “Native Indians Granted Full Citizenship Rights.” The Native Voice, 1960. https://diefenbaker.usask.ca/documents/the-enfranchisement-of-canadas-aboriginal-peoples/native_voice.pdf

Rural or Urban
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