Liberals move to end Indian Act discrimination - APTN NewsAPTN News

Liberals move to end Indian Act discrimination

Sen. Lillian Eva Dyck says a government amendment will restore full legal status to First Nations women.

Sen. Lillian Eva Dyck says a government amendment will restore full legal status to First Nations women.

The Canadian Press
The federal government has decided to change course on its proposed legislation to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act.

The government’s point man in the Senate, Sen. Peter Harder, told the upper chamber Tuesday that the government is offering to make a change that would restore full legal status to First Nations women and their descendants born prior to 1985 — a measure that moved Indigenous Sen. Lillian Dyck to tears.

“Colleagues, if we pass today’s motion, something wonderful will happen,” Dyck told the chamber, her voice cracking. “Something that First Nations women have been waiting for for nearly 150 years.”

The Indian Act, which dates back to 1876, remains the primary law defining the relationship between the federal government and First Nations across the country. Its original definitions focused primarily on men, denying women many of the same privileges and powers as their male counterparts when it came to their Indian status.

Numerous amendments over the years have chipped away at those imbalances, but critics say the document as it currently stands continues to treat women unfairly, particularly when it comes to their Indian status and their ability to pass that status along to their descendants.

Once passed, the government amendment would ensure Indigenous women finally get the same ability to transmit their registered Indian status to family members, Dyck said.

“Your language, your culture, your connection to your family, your connection to your community.”

Dyck recently joined forces with Sen. Sandra Lovelace-Nicholas and other advocates as part of an awareness campaign to urge the Liberal government to change the bill.

Part of the outreach, supported by the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, included the distribution of a letter last week to women’s organizations, academics and human rights groups to drum up support for the “full and final removal” of sex discrimination in the Indian Act.

The government and officials have now found an acceptable solution to a standoff between the Senate and the House of Commons, said Dyck, who urged her fellow senators to pass Harder’s proposal by the end of the week.

“Let’s move it and urge the members in the (House of Commons) to concur,” she said.

First Nations women can breathe a sigh of relief, Dyck added. “I know I will.”

In June, the Senate unanimously passed a change to the bill designed to ensure Indigenous women and their descendants enjoy the same Indian status under the law as their male counterparts.

The House of Commons, however, did not originally accept the Senate’s proposal, with the government saying it needed more time to examine the potential impacts.

The previous Senate amendment would have focused on issues beyond merely the sex-based inequities, creating ambiguities and potential legal problems, Harder said.

The government’s original bill would only have addressed discrimination in Indian Act registration since 1951, when a more modern registry was created. The amendment would, among other things, also address inequities created between 1869 and 1951, said the office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

The Liberal government’s bill was in response to a Quebec Superior Court decision that ruled certain sections of the Indian Act related to registration status violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The case was brought by Stephane Descheneaux of the Abenaki community of Odanak, about 40 kilometres northwest of Drummondville, Que.

Descheneaux was unable to pass on his Indian status to his three daughters because he got it through his Indigenous grandmother, who lost her status when she married a non-Indigenous man.

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10 Responses to “Liberals move to end Indian Act discrimination”

    Mea November 13, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    my tribe wasnt recognized until 1985. I was adopted to white and was raised as chattle with my sibling. Because of that my children ended up in adoption. there was no ICWA to protect us and keep us with our Native family. We had no tribe to go to for help either because of termination. To this day it has affected my family in a negative way…we are basically estranged. My tribes lengthy termination was due to those elders fighting for recognition would not accept quantum. Quantum would exclude our own relatives through a non-indian law. Therefore I feel all Native affected by termination and left without the protection of ICWA should have right to suit against the government that tore their families apart.

    Diane Blunt November 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    They need to abolish the effects of enfranchisement as well. Even if this happens I still won’t be status do to the fact my grandmother became enfranchised when her dad sold his status. She was a minor at the time and automatically became enfranchised too.

    R Burns November 9, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

    Does this mean my grandchildren will be able to get Status. As my sons labeled as a 6 -2 cause he was born in 1986 and his Childern were not allowed treaty status

    Theresa Brown November 9, 2017 at 2:52 am #

    So prior to 1985, my mom has 4 kids, 2 born before 1985 and 2 born after. in the case does 2 of us get our status and the other 2 don’t?

    Claude Harari November 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

    Has the government first established the criteria to prevent abusive large numbers of claims and the potential significant losses of taxpayer revenues?

      Rosanna November 10, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

      No comparison to the billions spent on cultural genocide, residential schools, hospitals, etc. Don’t worry, the government has better ways to spend your tax dollars.

    kristianna Thomas November 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    Many in the various communities have stated that Women’s Liberation was just an issue of White Liberal Middle-Class women, this proves that this has never been the case. The denial of Native women the right to the continuation of their lineage is of great importance for the survival of Native Nations throughout this hemisphere. As Fredrick Douglas once said, “without struggle, there is no progress.”

      nelly gracr November 9, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

      we are confident all us will see justice been serve very soon we were born to exercise our rights no matter where or if we are women or men we parents must respect and empower our children all of us are equal with rights and rrsposabilities

    Brenda November 8, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

    I could never understand that even though my birth certificate stares live birth of an Indian yet my grand children we’re unable to registered as Staus Anishinabe

      Ron November 12, 2017 at 5:55 am #

      My Grandmother Full Blood Gitxsan Married A Scotchman Lost Her Status in 1945 .. there for No status was passed on to My Mother .. Bill c-31 Enacted That And now My Mom was Status .. Thou they Had Put a Second Generation Cut-off to where I was Not Able To Receive Status .. it wasn’t until 2010 Sharon McIvoir Court Case To Gender Equality Can in To where I Became Status ..