Government Still Refuses to Remove Sex Discrimination from the Indian Act – FAFIA
May 15, 2017
In October 2016, the Government of Canada introduced Bill S-3 in the Senate, a bill to remove sex discrimination from the Indian Act. The fall 2016 version of Bill S-3 would not remove all the sex discrimination from the Indian Act (see e.g. Sharon McIvor, Pam Palmater, and Kim Stanton witness testimony), instead removing only the sex discrimination that was identified in the Descheneaux v Canada decision. The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples suspended consideration of Bill S-3 and sent it back to the Minister because it did not eliminate all sex discrimination from the Indian Act, but only the court-identified sex-discrimination in Descheneaux.
On May 9, 2017, Bill S-3 was re-introduced in the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples without any substantive changes. FAFIA representatives, Sharon McIvor and Shelagh Day, with Dr. Pamela Palmater and Gwen Brodsky, renew their call on the Government of Canada and the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples to make substantive changes to Bill S-3 to ensure that the Bill removes the long-standing sex-based hierarchy between section 6(1)(a) (full status) and section 6(1)(c) (partial status).
Read the April 18, 2017, letter to Hon. Sen. Lillian E. Dyck and Hon. Sen. Dennis Patterson calling on Canada to remove all sex discrimination from the Indian Act.
Following a meeting with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in late April, Sharon McIvor, a FAFIA representative and plaintiff in McIvor v Canada, stated her grave concerns about the inadequacy of the current draft Bill S-3 and Phase I of the Indian Act Reform Process.
Read the May 5, 2017, letter to Hon. Sen. Lillian E. Dyck and Hon. Sen. Dennis Patterson calling on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples to amend Bill S-3 or request a new bill that fully eliminates all sex discrimination from the Indian Act.
The Government of Canada has removed sex-discrimination from the Indian Act in a piecemeal fashion since the 1980s: Bill C-31 (1985), Bill C-3 (2010), and now Bill S-3 (2016; 2017). Canada claimed that there was no sex-discrimination in the Indian Act following the 2010 Bill C-3 amendments (see at para 120); the Government of Canada was proved wrong when the Québec Superior Court made a finding of sex discrimination in the Indian Act in the August 2015 Descheneaux decision.
FAFIA calls on the Government of Canada to act now to eliminate all sex discrimination from the Indian Act instead of making another piecemeal amendment that will simply continue Canada’s history of sexist treatment of Indigenous women under the Indian Act.