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Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 153

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas and I had hoped to be able to give this senator’s statement jointly, but unfortunately our Rules do not allow us to do so.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas and I are honoured and humbled to join forces with Jeannette Corbière Lavell, Yvonne Bédard, Sharon McIvor and Dr. Lynn Gehl in a national call for support to eliminate the discrimination against women in the Indian Act. After more than 40 years after advocacy and fighting in the courts for equal status for women in the Indian Act, we say it is time to end the discrimination against Indian women and our descendants with regard to the Indian registry.

As senators know, after our consideration of Bill S-3 in June, we unanimously passed an amendment which would have ensured that, for the first time, Indian women and their descendants would be entitled to Indian status on the same footing as Indian men and their descendants, but that amendment was removed in the House of Commons and the message from the House of Commons on our Order Paper asks that the Senate agree with them.

Colleagues, we humbly ask for your continued support to ensure equality in the Indian Act. Because indigenous women are a minority and because our rights are too easily forgotten, it is extremely difficult to be successful in our fight for equality without allies. We need the support of non-indigenous allies and we need it now.

Today, we, Senator Lovelace Nicholas and I, are formally announcing a national solidarity initiative in partnership with FAFIA, the Feminist Alliance for International Action. We are urging Canadians to join with the six of us in solidarity and insist that the Government of Canada remove all sex-based discrimination against Indian women and their descendants in the Indian Act by December 22, 2017. December 22 is the court-imposed deadline by which Parliament must pass a bill. Organizations and individuals can support our call for equality for indigenous women by logging onto the FAFIA website and following the links to sign on to a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau; contact their member of Parliament; and contact senators from their province or territory.

We thank you for your support.

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