No status Indians could be left in Canada within 200 years if current laws defining who qualifies are not changed, according to a Winnipeg demographer.
Currently, federal legislation eliminates the treaty status of some children if one parent is a certain type of registered Indian and the other is not.
That means fewer and fewer children will qualify for status, Winnipeg demographer Stewart Clathworthy told CBC News.
"If nothing changes and intermarriage rates stay the same, and the rules of the act stay the same, and you string it out long enough, you can essentially create a situation where there would be no one born who would qualify," Clathworthy said Thursday.
Within six generations � roughly 180 years � Clathworthy's projections suggest no one born could qualify to register as a status Indian.
Status Indians are entitled certain rights and payments not available to other aboriginal Canadians, depending on the terms of their treaty � for example, hunting and fishing rights on unoccupied land, tax exemptions and free post-secondary education.
Statistics show the number of status Indians is, indeed, starting to drop, despite the fact the aboriginal population is increasing.
"I have done projections for First Nations which are facing rapid declines in their populations associated with the loss of entitlement at this point in time," Clathworthy said.
"Some of those First Nations could become extinct in the legal sense, having no one entitled or born or further entitled to registration."
Changes to the Indian Act would be required to prevent continued reduction in numbers, Clathworthy said.
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