Status issue symptom of gender discrimination: Madahbee

UOI OFFICES, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says the Supreme Court of Canada's refusal to hear a case regarding the continued gender discrimination in the "status" provisions of the Indian Act is further proof that jurisdiction in the issue should rest solely with First Nations.

"We've always maintained - as does the United Nations - that no nation has the right to determine citizenship criteria for another nation," said Madahbee. "That's why the Anishinabek created the role of Citizenship Commissioner and the template for our own citizenship law - E- Dbendaagzijig "those who belong". Only our communities have the right to say who their citizens are."

Madahbee congratulated Sharon McIvor on her lengthy legal struggle that resulted in the highest court in British Columbia ruling that current Status provisions of the Indian Act discriminated against her being able to pass government-recognized status to her descendants.

"The Anishinabek salute Sharon's determination and courage," said the Grand Council Chief, "but she is swimming against a very strong tide. Gender discrimination is a way of life in Western societies - women hold few positions of major responsibility and are paid much less on average than men for doing the same work.

"Other nations can learn from how First Nations are trying to create equality for all our citizens in the laws we want to govern our affairs."

Sharon McIvor launched a case challenging Section 6 of the Indian Act, which governs Indian Status, as discriminatory because it treats the descendents of Indian women who married non-Indian men differently from the descendents of Indian men who married non-Indian women. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is pursuing an amendment to the Indian Act to respond to direction from the B.C. Court of Appeal, to be in place by April 9, 2010.

National Chief Shawn Atleo reinforced Madahbee's viewpoint.

"Status provisions of the Indian Act have created problems for First Nations and our citizens, and continue to divide our communities," said the Assembly of First Nations leader. "It is time for the federal government to get out of the business of controlling First Nations citizenship and make way for First Nations to exercise our own laws that will redress discrimination and damage caused by the Indian Act."

Anishinabek Nation Commissioner on Citizenship, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell says that she expects the implementation of E-DbendaagzijStig "those who belong" in June 2011.

"As a result of the community consultation sessions held in 2008-2009, we've agreed to move forward with the one-parent rule and Anishinaabe ancestory to determine E-Dbendaagzijig, "those who belong," says Jeannette Corbiere Lavell. "We are gearing up for an impact study to see what social impacts increasing our citizens may have on our communities. We also realize that as we do the right thing and welcome our people home where they belong, the stronger the Anishinabek Nation will be."

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 41 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

SOURCE Anishinabek Nation

For further information: For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, (705) 497-9127 ext. 2290, Cell: (705) 494-0735, becmar@anishinabek.ca

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Anishinabek Nation

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