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March 13, 2017

A Documentary: The Indian Act & The Pass System

In 1885 a pass system was begun by the Department of Indian Affairs in Canada. No outsider could enter a reserve and no native could leave the reserve without a pass from the Indian Agent in charge.

"No rebel Indians should be allowed off the Reserves without a pass signed by an I.D. official.The dangers of complications with white men will thus be lessened & by preserving a knowledge of individual movements any inclination to petty depredations may be checked by the facility of apprehending those who commit such offences.” (Source: Public Archives of Canada, RG 10, Vol. 37 10, file 19,550-3. Hayter Reed to Edgar Dewdney, 20 July 1885. In Indian Act and the Pass System)

The Pass System meant that parents could not visit their children in off-reservation schools. Sometimes individuals needing a pass would hike miles to the nearest Indian Agent only to find no one home.  The pass system was created in 1885, enforced into the 1940s, and repealed in 1951. (Source: Indian Act and the Pass System)

Continue reading about the Dark history of Canada's First Nations pass system uncovered in documentary

Image Credit: Pat Grasshopper's pass to leave the reserve 1892. Glenbow Museum

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