This book is absolutely essential for anyone looking for a layperson’s understanding of one of the only race-based pieces of legislation in the world.
If you’re Canadian, it’s helps you understand your own country, and hopefully, get inspired to advocate for us to do better.
And if you’re not Canadian, it can help you look more critically at how race is dealt with in your country. While your country my not have explicitly racist legislation, there are a lot of policies and ideas in the Indian Act that seem positive on the surface, and Joseph helps shine a light on why they are actually harmful. Critical reasoning is vital to understanding facially neutral policies and laws.
So what is this book actually about? Joseph takes 21 provisions from the Indian Act and explains them. He provides both historical context and and analysis of the actual implications of these policies, regardless of the supposed intent.
If you’re a law student or lawyer very new to Aboriginal law, this is a particularly very good start. Legal scholars should read this as well. I went to law school in Canada and obtained a specialization in Aboriginal Law, even practicing in the field for a time (law as a profession wasn’t for me). Still, I found this book very helpful both for reminding me of the material I already learned and providing me with a non-legal perspective and context on the legislation. This is sometimes something you lose when you’re mired too deep in legalese. It also presents a view of what Canada will look like after the Indian Act has been abolished, which is inevitably where legal discussions go.
This is an incredibly complicated and emotional topic, but whether you know a lot, a little, or nothing about how Indigenous people have been governed in Canada, this book will give you something new to chew on.