Mixed-blood urban Native people in Canada are profoundly affected by federal legislation that divides Aboriginal people into different legal categories. In this pioneering book, Bonita Lawrence reveals the ways in which mixed-blood urban Native people understand their identities and struggle to survive in a world that, more often than not, fails to recognize them.
In "Real" Indians and Others, Lawrence draws on the first-person accounts of thirty Toronto residents of Aboriginal descent, as well as archival materials, sociological research, and her own urban Native heritage and experiences. She sheds light on the Canadian government’s efforts to define Native identity through the years by means of the Indian Act and shows how policies such as residential schooling, loss of Indian status, and adoption have affected Native identity. Lawrence looks at how Native people with "Indian status" react and respond to "nonstatus" Native people and how reserve-based and other federally recognized Native people attempt to impose an identity on urban Native people.
Drawing on extensive interviews, she describes the devastating loss of community that has resulted from identity legislation and how urban Native people have wrestled with their past and current identities. Lawrence also addresses the future and explores the forms of nation-building that can reconcile the differences in experiences and distinct agendas of urban and reserve-based Native communities.