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Encyclopedia > Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Canada)

In the Cabinet of Canada, The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development really heads two different departments. As the Minister of Indian Affairs he is responsible for overseeing the corresponding federal government department (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), administering the Indian Act and other legislation dealing with "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. As the Minister of Northern Development he is responsible for supervising federal involvement in the territorial governments of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.


There was a Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs in the Canadian cabinet from 1867 until 1936 when the Minister of Mines and Resources became responsible for native affairs. In 1950 the Indian Affairs branch was transferred to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who had responsibility for "registered Indians" until the creation of the position of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1966. Before 1966 the Northern Development portions of the portfolio were the responsibility of the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources.


Until amendments to the Indian Act in 1985 restored Indian status to many people whose status had been revoked for discriminatory reasons, about half of the persons claiming to be Indians were entitled to be registered as Indians under the Indian Act and to receive the benefits reserved for registered Indians under the Act. The people to whom status was restored were:

  • women who married men who were not Status Indians, and their children
  • people who had, prior to 1961, renounced their Indian status so they could vote in federal elections, and their children
  • people whose mother and paternal grandmother did not have status before marriage (these people lost status at 21), and their children
  • people who had been born out of wedlock of mothers with status and fathers without, and their children.

Over 100,000 people have had their Indian status restored as a result of these changes.


A 1983 Commons Committee recommended that Indian or First Nations communities be allowed to write their own membership code provided that the code did not violate fundamental human rights. A second report from the 1983 Penner Committee recommended the gradual abolition of the office of Minister of Indian Affairs and a transfer of responsibility for their own affairs to First Nations communities.


See also

External link

  • Individuals Responsible for Aboriginal and Northern Affairs in Canada 1755 to 1999 (http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/info38_e.html)



Cabinet of Canada
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Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec | Environment | Finance | Fisheries and Oceans | Foreign Affairs | Health
Human Resources and Skills Development | Indian Affairs and Northern Development | Industry | Intergovernmental Affairs | International Cooperation
International Trade | Justice | Labour and Housing | Government House Leader | Leader of the Gov't in the Senate | National Defence | National Defence (Assoc.)
National Revenue | Natural Resources | Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness | Public Works and Government Services
Queen's Privy Council for Canada | Social Development | Transport | Treasury Board | Veterans Affairs | Western Economic Diversification

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