Methods of Colonization - The Reserve System

Learning Activity

Vist the native-land website to learn about the Indigenous territories, languages, and lands. Whose land do you live on? 

Reserve System

The main goal of the reserve system was to control and contain the Indigenous population so colonizers could take over Indigenous land. Reserves were set up under treaties and are governed by the Indian Act. The Act states that reserve land is held by the Crown “for the use and benefit of the respective bands for which they were set apart.” The Indian Act also states that only registered band members can live permanently on a reserve, unless the band has a residency bylaw to oversee who lives there. 

Reserves in Canada currently are underfunded and face many structural barriers. For example, many reserves do not have clean drinking water. There are currently 36 water advisories in 29 communities. In addition to lack of clean drinking water, many fly-in reserves face the challenge of extremely expensive food prices, restricting what type of food families have access to.


Image: Office of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Attawapiskat, Ontario. By Paul Lantz. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons