Citizenship more than a gender issue: Corbiere Lavell

    AUNDECK OMNI KANING, June 4 /CNW/ - The first Anishinabek Nation
Commissioner on Citizenship, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, says the federal
government's plan to revise Indian Act rules for citizenship is more than a
victory for First Nations women.
    "We look forward to working with the Minister of Indian Affairs to amend
the Indian Act which has denied our grandchildren their right to belong and
participate in our communities," said Corbiere Lavell, elated that the
Government of Canada will not appeal the B.C Court of Appeal decision in the
Sharon McIvor case. "Our grandchildren are entitled to enjoy the rights
guaranteed by our Treaties and protected by the 1982 Constitution Act and
international human rights law."
    Corbiere Lavell was appointed by Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief
John Beaucage in May, 2008 to lead a consultative process and develop an
Anishinabek Nation Law on Citizenship based on a one-parent rule that would
effectively do away with the gender-based discrimination of Section 6 in the
Indian Act. The so-called two-generation cut-off restricted the right of First
Nations women to pass on status in the same way as First Nations men.
    "Anishinabek women view this change as bringing us one step closer to
what should be the case," said Corbiere Lavell, "the reassertion of the
Anishinabek Nation's right to determine who our citizens are. The Minister has
framed this as a gender-based issue, but the heart of the matter is that our
Nation has the same right to determine its own citizens as any other nation.
This is what was agreed to in our Treaties and what is protected in the
Canadian constitution.
    Corbiere Lavell led a Supreme Court challenge to the Act's discrimination
against women who lost their Indian status when they married non-status Indian
men while non-Indian women gained status when they married Indian men. In
1985, the Bill C-31 amendments to the Act, known as Section 6, were supposed
to address discrimination against status Indian women.
    "Instead it further entrenched a discriminatory practice and became a
legislative tool for the assimilation and extinction of status Indians in
Canada," said Corbiere Lavell.
    The Citizenship Commissioner spoke from a planning session developing
recommendations for an Anishinabek Nation Law on Citizenship that is on the
agenda of the Anishinabek Nation's annual general assembly in Aamjiwnaang
(Sarnia) next week.

    The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
political advocate and secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to
the Confederacy of Three Fires that have existed long before European contact.

For further information:

For further information: Mary Laronde, Restoration of Jurisdiction
Communications, Union of Ontario Indians, (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2266), Cell:
(705) 471-1032; Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario
Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735, E-mail:

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Anishinabek Nation

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