Changes to Bill S-3 remove sex-based discrimination in Indian Act
- EFN Staff | August 20, 2019
Provisions of Bill S-3 to end sex-based inequities in the Indian Act have been implemented. On August 15, 2019, the Government of Canada stated they are committed to gender equality and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and is eliminating all remaining sex-based inequities from Indian Act registration provisions going back to its inception 150 years ago.
“Gender equality is a fundamental human right and for far too long, First Nations women and their descendants have continued to face the effects of historical gender discrimination in Indian Act registration going back to its inception 150 years ago,” stated Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett in a media release. “I stand in solidarity with the Indigenous women who have been working so hard for decades to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act registration and am proud that all remaining gender discrimination has been eliminated from Indian Act registration provisions.”
The Government of Canada has brought into force the final provisions under Bill S-3, which removes the 1951 cut-off from the Indian Act registration provisions.
This means that as of August 15, 2019, all descendants born prior to April 17, 1985 to women who lost status or were removed from band lists because of their marriage to a non-Indian man dating back to 1869, will be entitled to registration, bringing them in line with the descendants of men who never lost status.
Once registered, First Nations individuals will be eligible for federal benefits and services such as Treaty payments, post-secondary education funding, and Non-Insured Health Benefits.
“From day one, our government has been committed to gender equality and to renewing the relationship with Indigenous people,” said Seamus O'Regan, the Minister of Indigenous Services. “For years, Indigenous women have called for this change; the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for this change; and, [this mark] an important step forward in removing all remaining sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. There is still more work to do, but these changes will mean improved quality of life for more First Nations women and their descendants.”
The Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef stated that we can’t move forward when half of us are held back.
“This announcement is an important victory for gender equality and for Indigenous women in Canada,” she stated. “While there is still more work to do, we are committed to eliminating the systemic barriers that Indigenous women face as an important step in our long journey toward reconciliation.”
In addition to removing the 1951 cut-off from Indian registration, the changes now in force will result in the repeal of the 6(1)(c) paragraphs of the Indian Act and will bring into force the new 6(1)(a) paragraphs. This means that anyone who was previously entitled to registration under any 6(1)(c) paragraph, will now be entitled under the new 6(1)(a) paragraphs. Individuals already registered do not need to reapply; their files will be updated automatically.
Information on eligibility, the registration process and required documents, as well as general information on Bill S-3 and the removal of the 1951 cut-off, can be found online.