Positive outcomes for women and children with removal of gender-based discrimination from Indian Act

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (August 21, 2019) – Canada has updated the Indian Registration System to eliminate the long-standing gender-based discrimination. With the remaining provisions of Bill S-3 coming into force, descendants born before April 17, 1985, who lost their status or who were removed from “band” lists due to marriages to non-status men dating back to 1869, will regain eligibility for their status.

“The discrimination that women and their children have experienced has been so harmful, and in many cases, created deep-rooted divisions, separating families and communities. Almost 150 years later, the assimilation machine has been somewhat righted,” stated Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “I acknowledge Minister Carolyn Bennett and Prime Minister Trudeau for facilitating these amendments to right this wrong without further delay. Your government has done the right thing.”

In 1876, Parliament of Canada passed the Indian Act, which enforced discriminating laws and gave the federal government tremendous control over registered First Nations people, bands and the reserve system.

In the past, provisions within the Indian Act explicitly favoured paternal lineage, which meant that status women who married non-status men would lose their status, whereas men who married non-status women retained their status and passed status onto their wives and children. In eliminating gender-based discrimination from the Indian Act, First Nations women and their descendants who lost their status will have access to post-secondary education funding, non-insured health benefits, legislated rights and treaty rights.

“Our leadership works tirelessly towards determining our own citizenship to ensure that our families are connected to their language, culture, ceremonies-everything that determines their identity and sense of belonging,” explained Grand Council Chief Hare. “Chi-miigwech to all of those who have helped ensure equal rights for women and children, but especially the strong, resilient, perseverant Anishinaabekwe at the helm refusing to allow the blatant discriminatory Indian Act legislation to remove them and their children from their family, community and nation. Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe – we are one Anishinaabe family!”

On behalf of its 40 member First Nations, the Anishinabek Nation continuously works toward restoring rightful control over Anishinaabe citizenship. Some of these efforts include the development and implementation of E-dbendaagzijig (Anishinabek Nation Citizenship Law); appointing Jeanette Corbiere Lavell as the Anishinabek Nation Citizenship Commissioner; and including citizenship as a provision in the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement.

The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 40 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation 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.

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Laura Barrios Communications Officer

Policy and Communications Department

Anishinabek Nation

Phone: 705.497.9127 ext. 2290

E-mail: laura.barrios@anishinabek.ca