Proposed changes could remove gender-based discrimination from Indian Act
- EFN Staff | November 13, 2017
An amendment has been proposed to Bill S-3 to remove federal policy barriers for First Nations women and girls who lost their status.
“This move to eliminate one form of discrimination within the Indian Act is a positive step for First Nations women and girls and for all First Nations families,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a statement. “It is an essential step for a government that pledges both a renewed relationship with First Nations based on recognition of rights, and gender equality.”
In 1876, the Canadian government created the Indian Act and developed criteria for who would be legally considered an ‘Indian’. Under the Indian Act, if a status Indian woman married a non-status person, she would lose her status. But if a status Indian man married a woman without status, she and their children would gain status.
Many people considered this sex-based discrimination. It excluded women and their children from their inherent rights.
“This includes our right to define our own citizenship,” said Chief Bellegarde. “As we go forward, First Nations must be fully engaged in plans to implement this change…First Nations rights, title, Treaties and jurisdiction are recognized in Canada’s Constitution and in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has pledged to fully implement.”
A year ago, Ottawa first introduced Bill S-3, the bill will head to the House of Commons as early as Nov. 20, according to news sources.