A Statement by the Minister of State (Status of Women)

    OTTAWA, May 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The following is the text of a statement by
the Honourable Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women), on on Bill
C-8: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act:

    "I am in complete support and agreement with my colleague the Honourable
    Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, that
    Bill C-8 be openly and actively discussed in the House of Commons

    "The reality is that current matrimonial real property rights and
    provincial/territorial laws do not apply to reserves, which means that
    Aboriginal women are often the ones forced to leave their matrimonial
    homes. To make matters worse, if they are escaping abusive situations,
    they do not even have the right to seek protection orders while on
    reserve, to ensure their own physical safety and the safety of their
    children. Without this Bill, we could see the numbers of homeless
    Aboriginal women begin to rise and this would be completely inexcusable.

    "Not one more Aboriginal woman and her children should end up on the
    streets because of a breakdown in the family unit and this gap in
    legislation. Without the reality of Bill C-8, most of these women will
    be forced on to the streets and could become easy prey for human
    trafficking or, at the very least, a life of poverty and strife - all
    while potentially trying to provide for their children.

    "Any further attempt to delay these necessary and vital discussions is
    nothing short of an attempt to muzzle their cries for support, and would
    be an embarrassing and immoral violation of their basic human rights.

    "Bill C-8, the proposed Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial
    Interests or Rights Act, would provide First Nations with the ability to
    create their own future legislation while providing protection to women
    and children struggling during the breakup of a marriage.

    "The time is now to ensure Aboriginal women have the same rights and
    protections as all Canadian women. Bill C-8 brings these injustices to
    the forefront where they belong."

For further information:

For further information: Sherine Mansour, Senior Special Assistant
Communications, Office of the Minister of State (Status of Women), (819)

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