January 01, 1400
Mi’kmaq Grand Council
Made up of male representatives from across Mi’kmaq territory, the council is governed by a grand chief and rules by consensus. The role of chieftain is often handed down from father to son. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)
January 01, 1400
A confederacy of Siksika (Blackfoot) nations is organized around bands. Each band has a male leader responsible for decision-making. He governs by consensus. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)
January 01, 1500
The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy is Active
Formed by five nations, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is considered one of the earliest examples of a participatory democracy. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)
January 01, 1500
Huron-Wendat Village Councils
Civil and war-related affairs among the Huron-Wendat are determined by respective village councils. Decisions are reached by consensus. All men over 30 are council members but women have little-to-no say in council affairs. (Note: The exact date of this event is unknown. The date provided here is an estimate.)
April 12, 1876
The Indian Act is introduced. The Act aims to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act also reinforces that Status Indians must voluntarily give up status and treaty rights to vote federally. Status Indian women are barred from voting in band council elections.
January 01, 1885
Status Indians Enfranchised in Nova Scotia
Federal legislation put forward by Sir John A. Macdonald extended voting rights to Status Indians in eastern Canada who met existing property requirements. The federal legislation was repealed in 1898, but, unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia did not subsequently enact laws disqualifying Status Indians from voting provincially.
February 26, 1920
Indian Act Amendment Allows for Forced Enfranchisement of Status Indians
The Indian Act is amended to allow for the forced enfranchisement of First Nations whom the government thought should be removed from band lists. Enfranchisement was the most common of the legal processes by which First Nations peoples lost their Indian Status under the Indian Act.
January 01, 1924
Status Indian WWI Veterans Granted Right to Vote
Male Status Indian veterans of the First World War gain the right to vote in federal elections without losing their status and treaty rights.
January 01, 1924
First Nations Veterans Granted Right to Vote
The federal franchise was extended to Status Indian veterans of the First World War, including those living on reserves.
July 24, 1942
Birth of Gloria George
Native Council of Canada president Gloria George, who became the first woman to lead a major aboriginal political organization, was born at Hubert, BC.
January 01, 1944
Status Indian Servicemen and their Spouses Enfranchised
During the Second World War, the federal government extended the right to vote to Status Indians who served in the war and their spouses.
January 01, 1948
Changes to Elections Act Regarding Race
The federal Elections Act was changed so that race was no longer grounds for exclusion from voting in federal elections. While Japanese Canadians were enfranchised, First Nations peoples would not gain that right until 1960.
January 01, 1948
Amendments to Dominion Elections Act
Race is no longer grounds for exclusion from voting in federal elections. However, Status Indians still have to give up their Status in order to vote.
January 01, 1949
First Nations Win Right to Vote Provincially
Except in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Status Indians had been barred from voting provincially. Beginning with British Columbia in 1949 and ending with Quebec in 1969, First Nations peoples gradually win the right to vote in provincial elections without losing status or treaty rights.
January 01, 1949
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in British Columbia
Status Indians in British Columbia were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
March 03, 1949
Birth of Elijah Harper
Cree politician, consultant, policy analyst Elijah Harper was born in Red Sucker Lake, MB. The first Indigenous member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, Harper also served as the minister of Northern Affairs. From 1993 to 1997, he represented the riding of Churchill in the federal Parliament. Harper is best known for the role he played in scuttling the Meech Lake Accord, where he cited the lack of adequate participation and recognition of Indigenous people in that process.
January 01, 1950
Inuit Granted Right to Vote
Inuit are granted the right to vote in federal elections, but the isolation of several communities means many cannot access polling stations. Later reforms increase access to ballot boxes.
January 01, 1950
The Inuit were enfranchised without restrictions. However, the geographic isolation of northern communities meant that many did not have the opportunity to vote until ballot boxes were placed in all Inuit communities for the 1962 federal election.
January 01, 1951
First Nations Women Gain Right to Vote in Band Council Elections
Changes to the Indian Act granted First Nations women the right to vote in band council elections. Prior to European contact, Indigenous women had traditionally played important roles in community decision-making.
January 01, 1952
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Manitoba
Status Indians in Manitoba were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1954
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Ontario
Status Indians in Ontario were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 31, 1958
James Gladstone Enters the Senate
James Gladstone took his seat in the Senate. A member of the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Nation, Gladstone became Canada's first Aboriginal Senator two years before First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons gained the right to vote in Canada.
January 01, 1960
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Saskatchewan
Status Indians in Saskatchewan were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1963
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in New Brunswick
Status Indians in New Brunswick were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1963
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Prince Edward Island
Status Indians in Prince Edward Island were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1965
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Alberta
Status Indians in Alberta were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1967
Equal Rights for Indian Women Association Created
Equal Rights for Indian Women (ERIW) was established in Québec. A provincial organization, ERIW was founded by Mohawk women’s rights activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought the loss of Indian status suffered by Indigenous women married to non-Status Indians. ERIW faced strong resistance from male leaders in First Nations communities.
January 01, 1968
Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society Founded
The Voice of Alberta Native Women's Society (VANWS) was founded by Indigenous activists, including Métis war veteran Bertha Clark Jones, to advocate on behalf of Status and Non-Status women in the years before Bill C-31 made it possible for those who had lost their status in marriage to regain it. VANWS would evolve into the Native Women's Association of Canada, which has been active since 1974.
June 25, 1968
Leonard Marchand Elected to Federal Office
Leonard Marchand, member of the Okanagan Nation, became the first Indigenous person to be elected to the federal Parliament since Louis Riel.
January 01, 1969
First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Québec
Status Indians in Québec were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.
January 01, 1970
Voting Age is Lowered to 18
Parliament passes legislation lowering the federal voting age from 21 to 18. This adds two million Canadians to the electoral rolls.
January 01, 1971
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada
The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (Tapirisat, meaning Brotherhood in English) was founded. The ITC was created by an organizing committee of Inuit who decided it was time to speak with a united voice on various issues concerning development of the Canadian North and preservation of Inuit culture. In 2001, the ITC was renamed the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
January 01, 1971
Ontario Native Women’s Association Established
The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), a non-profit organization, was established. Working to empower Aboriginal women, the ONWA aims to build connections with government in the fight for equality and ensure the preservation of culture and heritage. Noted Aboriginal women’s activist Jeannette Lavell was a founding ONWA member.
January 01, 1972
Indian Rights for Indian Women Established
Indian Rights for Indian Women, an organization with a nation-wide scope, was established in Alberta. After meeting with Aboriginal women’s activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, First Nations women in Alberta began to organize opposition to the discriminatory Indian Act. Two-Axe Earley was the group’s vice president for several years.
August 27, 1973
Supreme Court Rejects Equal Status for First Nations Women Married to Non-Aboriginals
The Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian Bill of Rights did not apply to the Indian Act section that determined Aboriginal women married to non-Status Indians lost their Indian status. Activist Jeannette Lavell challenged the Indian Act claiming it discriminated on the basis of sex, a Bill of Rights violation (see Lavell Case).
January 01, 1974
Quebec Native Women Inc. Established
Québec Native Women Inc. (QNW) was founded. The bilingual QNW represents Indigenous women from Quebec. Working to achieve equal rights for all Aboriginal women, the QNW promotes issues such as non-violence and justice. It is a member organization of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
January 01, 1974
Native Women's Association of Canada Founded
The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) was founded by Indigenous women and their allies, including non-Indigenous feminists active in the women’s movement. Members concerned themselves with the preservation and continuation of Indigenous culture on a local level, while focusing nationally on addressing the inequity in status conditions for women under the Indian Act. NWAC's first president was Métis war veteran and activist Bertha Clark Jones.
August 22, 1974
First Assembly of the Native Women’s Association of Canada
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) convened its first assembly. The NWAC, a non-profit organization, brought together 13 Aboriginal women’s groups from across Canada. It represents mainly First Nations and Métis women, with the aim to achieve equal opportunities and influence policy initiatives impacting its members.
January 01, 1976
Nunavut Land Claims Presented to Government
The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada submitted a formal land claims proposal to the Government of Canada.
January 01, 1976
Nunatsiaq Riding Created
A federal riding was created in the Northwest Territories. Called Nunatsiaq, it represented territory that now comprises Nunavut.
August 14, 1978
The Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories became the Dene Nation during the 8th Dene National Assembly held in Fort Norman, NT.
July 19, 1979
“Indian Women’s March” Protests the Indian Act
Twenty-eight women from the Tobique First Nation’s women’s group organized a 160 km walk from the Oka Reserve in Québec to Ottawa. They aimed to bring national attention to gender discrimination in the Indian Act.
July 30, 1981
UNHRC Decision Highlights Indian Act Discrimination
The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) presented its decision on the Lovelace case. Sandra Lovelace, of the Maliseet First Nation, argued that losing her Indian Status after marrying a non-Status Indian was discriminatory. The UNHRC declared Lovelace’s status loss tantamount to cultural interference.
January 01, 1982
Tungavik Federation of Nunavut Established
The Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was established in order to negotiate a land claims agreement with the Government of Canada.
April 14, 1982
Northwest Territories Plebiscite
The majority of voters (56 per cent) chose to divide the Northwest Territories in two in a territorial plebiscite. The division would create a mainly Inuit eastern territory. Over 80 per cent of the territory’s Inuit voted, more than 80 per cent of whom voted in favour of the creation of Nunavut. The results of the plebiscite were not binding federally.
March 30, 1984
Pauktuutit, the Inuit Women’s Association, Established
The Inuit Women’s Association, known as Pauktuutit, was incorporated. The national organization seeks to represent the needs of Inuit women, advocating on their behalf in federal policy initiatives. These include social justice issues such as violence against women, and health issues such as promoting traditional midwifery practices.
June 17, 1985
Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Indian Act, Passed
Since the mid-1800s the status of women had been tied to that of their husbands. Therefore, if a Status Indian woman married a non-Status Indian man, she would lose her status and if a non-Status Indian woman married a Status Indian man, she would acquire status. Bill C-31 removed these discriminatory provisions.
November 21, 1988
First Indigenous Woman Elected to Federal Government
Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew, member of the Dene Nation, became the first Indigenous woman elected to the House of Commons.
November 14, 1991
Cournoyea Elected Premier of NWT
Nellie J. Cournoyea, of Inupiaq heritage, was elected premier of the Northwest Territories, making her the first Indigenous woman to hold the position of government leader.
January 01, 1992
Métis Women’s National Council Formed
The Métis Women’s National Council (MWNC) was established as an organization separate from the Métis National Council, which was formed in 1983. The MWNC aims to promote understanding of the traditional roles played by Métis women, and to raise awareness of socio-cultural issues impacting Métis women and their children.
May 04, 1992
Nunavut Boundary Plebiscite
A plebiscite was held in order to confirm the boundary between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Fifty-four per cent voted in favour of the proposed boundaries.
August 16, 1992
Gros-Louis Elected Grand Chief
The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake (located near Québec City) elected Jocelyne Gros-Louis as Grand Chief. She was the first woman to be named as the leader of a First Nation in Canada.
November 03, 1992
Inuit Accept the Terms of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
A majority of Inuit beneficiaries voted to accept the terms of the proposed Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. In tandem with the Nunavut Act, the land claims agreement led to the creation of the territory of Nunavut.
November 12, 1992
Inuit Endorse Nunavut
The Inuit endorsed the creation of Nunavut, a semi-autonomous territory, in a referendum.
June 10, 1993
Nunavut Act Receives Royal Assent
The Nunavut Act, which established the new territory and its government, received royal assent in Parliament. The territory's Inuit population became beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Settlement Agreement, which also received royal assent on this day. Nunavut officially became Canada’s third territory on 1 April 1999.
June 02, 1997
First Inuit MP Elected
Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell was elected the first Member of Parliament for the newly-created riding of Nunavut, and became the first Inuit woman elected to the House of Commons.
November 26, 1997
First Métis Woman Appointed to Senate
Thelma Chalifoux, an active member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, became the first Métis woman appointed to the Senate.
February 15, 1999
First Woman Elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly
Manitok Thompson became the first woman elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.
April 01, 1999
The new territory of Nunavut, covering some 2 million sqare kilometers of the eastern Arctic, was declared as part of Canada's first territorial changes since Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.
May 20, 1999
Off-Reserve Voting Rights
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously to open Indigenous band elections to off-reserve band members, stating that excluding them violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
September 21, 2005
First Female First Nations Senator Appointed
Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, a Maliseet woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, became the first First Nations woman appointed to the Senate.
September 04, 2007
BC's First Aboriginal Lieutenant-Governor
PM Stephen Harper announced the appointment of Steven Point as BC's first Aboriginal lieutenant-governor.
October 30, 2008
First Inuit Federal Cabinet Minister
Leona Aglukkaq was appointed Minister of Health, making her the first Inuk to serve as a senior federal cabinet minister.
November 14, 2008
Aariak Becomes First Female Premier of Nunavut
Eva Aariak, the MLA for Iqaluit East and Nunavut's former languages commissioner, defeated Paul Okalik to become Nunavut’s second premier and the territory’s first female premier. She was, however, the only woman in the legislature.
September 10, 2009
Nicholas Appointed Lieutenant-Governor
The Honourable Graydon Nicholas was appointed New Brunswick's 30th lieutenant-governor. He was first Indigenous person in the province to hold the honour.
January 10, 2014
First Indigenous Constitution in Ontario
Members of the Nipissing First Nation voted in favour of adopting their own constitution, or Gichi-Naaknigewin, believed to be the first such document among First Nations communities in Ontario. Its purpose is to allow the nation to define its membership and create laws. Legal experts say it is unclear, however, whether this constitution will run up against Canadian laws such as the Indian Act, which it is designed to replace.
October 22, 2014
Winnipeg’s First Aboriginal Mayor
Métis lawyer Brian Bowman was elected as Winnipeg’s first Aboriginal mayor in the city’s 140-year history.
December 10, 2014
Perry Bellegarde Elected National Chief
Perry Bellegarde, former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Saskatchewan regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), was elected national chief of the AFN.
October 04, 2015
REDress Project Calls for Donations
The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women, asked for the donation of red dresses, and for Canadians to hang their own. Métis artist Jaime Black initiated the project, which has displayed hundreds of red dresses in public spaces such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
May 10, 2016
Canada Supports UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights
Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett announced Canada’s full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Conservative government under Stephen Harper had endorsed the declaration in 2010, but with qualifications that gave Canada “objector” status at the UN with respect to the document. Bennett's announcement removed this status. The declaration recognizes a wide range of Indigenous rights, from basic human rights to land, language and self-determination rights.