First Nations governments and organizations have mounted a countrywide campaign against proposed changes to the Indian Act

In surveys, 85 per cent of Native people oppose the changes, according to Ovide Mercredi, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Before Christmas, Mercredi delivered over 100 letters from Native organizations protesting the changes.

Indian Affairs Minister Ron Irwin introduced the amendment in the House of Commons before Christmas.

At first Irwin had proposed to do only minor tune-ups to the Indian Act like changing outdated language.

But now, there are pages of amendments that include changing the legal status of First Nations to make them more like corporations.

Also, he would alter the definition of property rights so that land could potentially be transferred to non-Natives through mixed marriages.

None of the changes affect taxation, but the government has said in the past that it believes Native people should pay all the taxes other Canadians now pay.

The Assembly of First Nations believes Irwin did not consult Native peoples properly about the changes, as is required under the Canadian Constitution.

Ovide Mercredi said Irwin’s changes contradict the recent report of the Royal Commission. Georges Erasmus, Co-Chair of the Royal Commission, agreed: “Our report has a better approach that what Ron Irwin is proposing.”

Irwin hasn’t responded to the Royal Commission’s report.

The proposed law is available by calling (819) 997-0380 or a regional Indian Affairs office.