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Reserves are defined by the Indian Act as “tracts of land, the legal title to which is vested in His Majesty, that have been set apart by His Majesty for the use and benefit of a band.” While there has been improvement over time in the social conditions on reserves, many First Nations continue to face significant challenges, including inadequate housing and a lack of economic opportunity off-reserve.
Various factors have contributed to the poor socio-economic conditions on reserves. Displacement, discriminatory legislation and assimilationist programs such as the residential school system created lasting hardships among Indigenous Peoples that hindered the re-establishment of traditional social networks and stable communities.
Due to the varying origin, size and location of reserves, it is difficult to generalize about life on reserves. However, many issues persist that impact the quality of life, including high unemployment rates, limited opportunities for education and training and a reliance on government support. These are also exacerbated by a lack of affordable and adequate housing, which is primarily in a state of disrepair and overcrowded. These factors are not only a cause of reduced health and wellbeing, but they also have major repercussions for the social fabric on reserves. reserve residences