NAN Grand Chief demands withdrawal of federal legislation on matrimonial real property

    THUNDER BAY, ON, May 15 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Ask Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy, together with Deputy Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald, is demanding
that the Government of Canada withdraw proposed legislation under Bill C-8
dealing with matrimonial real property (MRP) on reserves that underwent second
reading in the House of Commons this week.
    "I call on the Government of Canada to do what's right for First Nations
and immediately withdraw this legislation. First Nations have jurisdiction on
matrimonial real property and Bill C-8 is not the solution," said Nishnawbe
Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "We are in favour of fair treatment
of women when it comes to the division of on-reserve assets in the event of a
marital breakdown, but the Government of Canada has to recognize that laws
around MRP must be developed at the community level."
    The NAN Women's Council led more than 80 women from NAN's 49 First Nation
communities in a peaceful demonstration at the Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada Thunder Bay Region Office at Fort William First Nation on March 26 to
demand the withdrawal of Bill C-8. Other First Nation organizations including
the Assembly of First Nations, Chiefs of Ontario and the Native Women's
Association of Canada are opposed to the legislation and are urging Members of
Parliament to oppose Bill C-8.
    "This is not just a women's issue as Bill C-8 threatens to leave women,
children and Elders homeless and at the mercy of a provincial court-imposed
judgement in the event of a family separation," said NAN Deputy Grand Chief
RoseAnne Archibald. "Many NAN First Nations are already delivering their own
laws in regard to MRP, and we are calling on the Government of Canada to scrap
this bill and recognize that we have traditional laws, practices and processes
for dealing with family issues."
    NAN is calling for a five-year moratorium on MRP as it develops a Family
Law template for all NAN communities.
    On February 2, 2009, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-8, An Act
respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial
interests or rights in structures and lands situated on those reserves. NAN
and other First Nation organizations are opposed to this legislation as Bill

    -   infringes on First Nations Aboriginal and Treaty rights and
    -   does not provide First Nations the capacity to resolve MRP issues and
        relies on provincial/territorial courts;
    -   was drafted without direct consultation with First Nations in
    -   ignores community-based approaches already developed by many First
        Nations to deal with MRP; and
    -   is contrary to the recommendations of the Minister of Indian
        Affairs' own Ministerial Representative, Wendy Grant John, on MRP,
        who tabled a report that stated unilateral, imposed federal
        legislation was not the proper way to proceed.

    The NAN Women's Council ensures the on-going involvement of women in the
decision-making process of Nishnawbe Aski Nation - a political territorial
organization representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty
9 and Treaty 5 territory, an area covering two-thirds of the province of

For further information:

For further information: Joyce Hunter, A/Director of Communications,
(807) 625-4952 direct line or (807) 472-5638 mobile; or Jackie Fletcher, NAN
Women's Council, (705) 255 1024 mobile

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