OTTAWA, Oct. 25, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced the introduction of a bill in the Senate intended to eliminate known sex-based inequities in the registration provisions of the Indian Act.
Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), is in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in the case of Descheneaux et al., v. Canada. The Bill proposes legislative amendments to the Indian registration provisions of the Indian Act to address historic inequities in how men and women acquire and transmit Indian status.
The Government of Canada recognizes that there are a number of issues relating to registration and Band membership under the Indian Act. This is why in summer 2016, the Government has launched a two-staged approach in response to the Descheneaux decision and to address the concerns of First Nations and other Indigenous groups. This Bill represents only Stage I of this approach.
As part of Stage I, engagement sessions were held with First Nations and other Indigenous groups over the summer to discuss the proposed legislative approach on the amendments to the registration provisions of the Indian Act. Engagement sessions on the proposed legislation are ongoing. During Stage II, to begin in February 2017, a collaborative process with First Nations and other Indigenous groups will be launched to examine the broader issues relating to Indian registration, Band membership and citizenship.
"The elimination of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act has long been fought for by many courageous Indigenous women. Our government is committed to honouring their work by introducing legislation in partnership with First Nations. This is just the first step in our government's approach to eliminate known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. However, our shared goal is to work together to move beyond the Indian Act, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership."
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
"For decades, NWAC has worked on addressing sex-based discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, their families, and communities. We are pleased that the government is moving forward on this issue by introducing this important legislation. We are also encouraged that the government has acknowledged much more needs to be done with respect to membership. NWAC is looking forward to partnering with the government on these broader critical issues. We believe that this legislation is only the beginning of the process to fully ending all forms of discrimination in the Indian Act. NWAC would like to see the full implementation of Article 33 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), "Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions."
Francyne Joe, Interim President
Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)
SOURCE Government of Canada
For further information: Sabrina Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, 613-697-8316; Media Relations: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-953-1160