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How To Enfranchise

Enfranchisement of Indian Wife and Minor Children:

Enfranchisement is an order of the Governor in Council, and comes about initially because of an application to enfranchise made by a registered Indian. That application is considered by the Minister who reports to the Governor in Council. The Minister reports that in his opinion the Indian is 21 years old or older and is capable of assuming the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, and when enfranchised will be able to support himself and his family and wife.

If satisifed with the application the Governor in Council may declare the Indian and his wife and minor unmarried children enfranchised. However if the Minister feels that the wife is living apart from her husband the wife and children with her are not enfranchised (until she "gets back" with her husband).


"The Federal Government has no statutory liability to give help to Indians in health matters. In other words, there is no law or treaty which binds the Federal Government in this respect. In years past, the provinces have not seen fit to extend to Indians all services available to other citizens. Indians, as individuals and as communities, have not always been able to provide for themselves. Legislation was therefore passed by the Federal Government to enable it to give financial assistance to those Indians in need. As other resources become available, the Federal Government expects that Indians will take advantage of them."

Quoted from "A Health Plan for Indians of Canada" prepared by the Medical Services Branch of the Department of National Health and Welfare in 1968.

Enfranchisement of Married Woman:

If the Minister reports to the Governor in Council that an Indian woman married a person not an Indian the Governor in Council may declare that woman enfranchised as of her marraige date.

And on the recommendation of the Minister the Governor in Council may declare that all or any of her children are enfranchised.

Result: A person is not enfranchised unless his name appears in an order by the Governor in Council stating he is enfranchised.

Sale of Lands of Enfranchised Indians:

A person who is enfranchised is "deemed not to be an Indian" for the purposes of the Indian Act. He is no longer subject to the provisions of that Act. Furthermore, when enfranchised an Indian must give away or sell to the Band or to a Band member any home or land or improvement which he was in lawful possession of, and he must do so within 30 (thirty) days or the home is offered for sale to the highest bidder.

If there is no bid and the property remains unsold for six months from the date of offering for sale then the property reverts to the Band subject to payment at the discretion of the Minister to the enfranchised Indian from Band funds of such amount for permanent improvements as the Minister may determine.

An alternative exists - when the enfranchisement order is given the Governor in Council may with Band Council consent, order that any lands within the reserve of which the Indian was in lawful possession formerly, shall ceased to be Indian Reserve's lands.

The enfranchised Indian can then occupy those lands for 10 (ten) years and must pay to the Band funds such amount per acre for the lands as the Minister considers to be the value of the land. At the end of 10 (ten) years title of the land is given to the enfranchised person.

Enfranchisement of Band:

An entire Band may apply for enfranchisement. If in such a case the Minister so reports to the Governor in Council, submitting the Bands proposed plan for division of Band funds and lands among the members. If the Minister believes the Band can manage their own affairs as a municipality the Governor in Council may approve the plan and declare all Band members enfranchised.

In order to make such an application 50% plus 1 (one) band elector must consent, I.E., signal at a meeting their willingness to enfranchise in this manner.