"The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change."
John A Macdonald, 1887
The Indian Act was intended to be a temporary measure when it was enacted in 1876 because it was thought that it would lead to the assimilation of Indigenous Peoples into white Canadian society. Essentially, it would completely eliminate Indigenous Peoples from Canada. The Act, which is still in effect today, dicates in minute detail who is and is not a 'Status Indian', how a person can 'lose' their status (a process called 'enfranchisement'), and how Indigenous people were to be educated (Leslie, 2002).
The Indian Act and its many revisions led to the establishment of Indian Residential Schools and their devastating legacy.