Another dimension of the Indian definition established in the enfranchisement scheme was the primacy given to the male.
Not surprisingly, voluntary enfranchisement was never a success.
The impact on reserve lands of enfranchisement was never seriously tested because of the unpopularity of the measure.
Tully's formulation recalls to mind the well-known statement of Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, in 1920, when he explained to Parliament why he wanted to make enfranchisement compulsory:
202) What Canada could not accomplish by enfranchisement, namely the reabsorption of Indian reserves, it is still trying to accomplish by means of the desk murder of registered "Indians".
This enfranchisement scheme, in various forms, remained in place until 1985.
At that point they became eligible for the new enfranchisement process that was enacted in 1918, a choice that offered significant short-term financial benefits, but led to the long-term loss of Indian status and rights.
The enfranchisement procedure enacted in 1918 stated that an Indian man, or unmarried woman over the age of 21, could apply to be enfranchised if he or she held no reserve land, did not live on a reserve, and did not follow the "Indian mode of life.
42) The lump sum payment that accompanied enfranchisement provided a real, though one-time, compensation for this loss.
Because enfranchisement was primarily an economic decision for applicants, the case files it generated contain considerable information about work lives, general economic circumstances, and sometimes future plans.
The fact that more than half of the women applying for enfranchisement were confined to domestic labour is unsurprising, given how common this occupation remained, especially for working-class, immigrant, and racialized women.
Enfranchisement became attractive, in most cases, because the applicants had already made a permanent move away from the reserve and did not intend to return.