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FAFIA is an alliance of women's organizations at the national, provincial, territorial, and local levels.

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Our mandate is to advance women’s equality in Canada by working for the full implementation of the international human rights treaties and agreements that Canada has ratified.

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Bill S-3

Bill S-3

Since its inception, the Indian Act has accorded privileged forms of Indian status to male Indians and their descendants, but not to Indian women and their descendants. On June 1, 2017, the Senate of Canada unanimously passed an amendment to Bill S-3. This amendment, ‘6(1)(a) all the way’ would, for the first time, entitle Indian women and their descendants to full 6(1)(a) Indian status. The Government of Canada has rejected this equal status amendment and wants the Senate to pass Bill S-3 without eliminating the sex discrimination. We invite you to learn more about this issue and join us in fighting to end discrimination against women in the Indian Act.

Go to the Bill S-3 page

PRESS RELEASE: Indigenous women leaders will testify before IACHR on Canada's failure to eliminate the sex discrimination from the Indian Act

(Ottawa, December 5, 2017) Indigenous women leaders, Sharon McIvor and Dr. Pamela Palmater, will appear before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Thursday, December 7th at 8:30 am to provide testimony on Canada's failure to eliminate sex discrimination from the Indian Act. The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) requested the hearing as a follow-up to findings by the Inter-American Commission, in its 2015 report, Missing and Murdered Women in British Columbia, Canada, that Indian Act sex discrimination is a root cause of Canada's crisis of murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls. Bill S-3, the latest in a series of piecemeal amendments to the Indian Act, passed in the House of Commons this week.  Rather than eliminating the sex discrimination immediately, Bill S-3 delays -  to an unspecified date -  the elimination of the core discrimination. Bill S-3 leaves in place the sex-based hierarchy between (full) 6(1)(a) and (partial) 6(1)(c) status, which the Senate attempted to remove with its '6(1)(a) all the way' amendment; it also leaves in place the "1951 cut-off", which bars descendants of women (but not men) born prior to 1951 from eligibility for status. The Government of Canada promises to remove this discrimination sometime, but not now. Sharon McIvor, Pamela Palmater and Shelagh Day, Chair of FAFIA's Human Rights Committee, will request that the IACHR urgently communicate with Canada regarding its legislative failure to grant equal status to Indigenous women and their descendants immediately and take an active role in monitoring Canada's compliance with its human rights obligations to Indigenous women and girls under regional human rights instruments. The hearing will be webcast live at: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/default.asp.

PRESS RELEASE: Groups do not support extension of time additional or funding for National Inquiry into MMIWG

Groups do not support extension of time or additional funding for National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls until conditions are met OTTAWA, ON – November 20, 2017- A coalition of organizations which have been granted standing in the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, to ensure that the Inquiry adopts a human rights based approach. The organizations, which include the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), Canada Without Poverty (CWP), and Dr. Pamela Palmater, the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, have also called for a clear and detailed workplan for the Inquiry's systemic review before additional time or money are provided. This call follows the release of the interim report of the Inquiry on November 1, 2017. The interim report states that the Commissioners have elected to use a trauma-informed, decolonizing and families-first approach to the implementation of their mandate; however the Commissioners have not adopted a human rights based approach, which would require analyzing the violence against Indigenous women and girls, and the treatment of the families, in the context the obligations of the federal government, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities and government actors, including the police, pursuant to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in international human rights law. “Indigenous women and girls are rights-bearers. It is through this lens that the National Inquiry must approach its work and mandate,” said Sharon McIvor, member of the Human Rights Committee of FAFIA. “This Inquiry is about the human rights of Indigenous women and girls, the human rights of family members, and the obligations of governments to respect, protect and fulfill those rights. If the Inquiry does not adopt a human rights framework, it will not be able to make a lasting difference in the lives of Indigenous women and girls, bring meaningful changes to government conduct or recommend law reform that will meet human rights standards." The Inquiry was called as a result of pressure from Indigenous women, family members, Canadian human rights organizations and international and regional human rights bodies that found Canada in breach of its international human rights obligations to act with due diligence to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls. Reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have already found Canada to be in violation of the rights of Indigenous women and girls to life, security of the person, and equality. "The job of the Inquiry is to examine the causes of these violations and identify specific steps that need to be taken by governments in Canada to prevent the violations from continuing to occur,” said Harriett McLachlan, Deputy Director of CWP. "A human rights approach requires detailed examination of current practices and policies.” Chief Commissioner Buller has asked the Government of Canada for more time and more money in order to fulfill the National Inquiry’s mandate. Despite this, no workplan has been provided and no dates for expert or institutional hearings have been set, nor have international human rights experts been contacted to appear before the Inquiry. "As organizations granted standing at the National Inquiry, we have serious concerns about the direction of the Inquiry, its capacity to undertake the necessary systemic review, and the conditions of participation for civil society groups, like ours, that are crucial to informed outcomes," said Dr. Pamela Palmater. "We urge Minister Bennett and Prime Minister Trudeau not to extend the time and money for the National Inquiry until there is a comprehensive workplan in place for the completion of family hearings and for the institutional and expert hearings. The Inquiry needs both a workplan and a clarification of goals that assures families, groups with standing, and the Canadian public that the Inquiry has the capacity to do the serious work necessary to engage with governments and make change."   MEDIA CONTACTS: Shelagh Day (English) Feminist Alliance for International Action shelagh.day@gmail.com 604-872-0750   Anne Levesque (Français) Alliance féministe pour l’action internationale anne@equalitylaw.ca 613-558-4740   Sharon McIvor Feminist Alliance for International Action 250-378-7479   Harriett McLachlan Canada Without Poverty harriett@cwp-csp.ca 613-986-7761   Dr. Pamela Palmater Chair, Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University 905-903-5563   Consult the PDF version of the press release here 

PRESS RELEASE: Support for Equal Status for Women in the Indian Act 'Overwhelming'

(Ottawa, November 7) Today the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action released a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with signatures of hundreds of organizations and individuals. The letter calls on the Prime Minister to eliminate discrimination against women from the Indian Act immediately, and to support the Senate's '6(1)(a) all the way' amendment to Bill S-3, which was passed by the full Senate on June 1. Just a week ago, Senator Lillian Dyck and Senator Sandra Lovelace-Nicholas joined with Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell, Yvonne Bedard, Sharon McIvor and Dr. Lynn Gehl, to ask for public support from non-Indigenous friends and allies to end discrimination against women in the Indian Act. The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) supports their request and is gathering responses. (http://fafia-afai.org/wp- content/uploads/2017/10/Letter-to-Prime-Minister_Signatures-1.pdf). The urgent call was sent out because the Government of Canada is poised to pass Bill S- 3. Bill S-3 is another minor change to the Indian Act, which will remove a sliver of the sex discrimination, but leave the core of it in place. Although the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to Bill S-3 that would have ensured equal status for Indian women and their descendants for the first time, the Government of Canada removed this amendment in the House of Commons on June 21. Now Bill S-3, without the Senate's amendment, is expected to be returned to the Senate for passage before December 22, 2017. Shelagh Day, Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, said "the response to the request for support has been overwhelming. Organizations large and small, women's organizations, human rights organizations, church and trade union organizations, as well as hundreds of individuals, have thrown their support behind these courageous Senators and Indigenous women leaders. The message from these communities is clear: we do not support discrimination against women in the Indian Act. It's time to end it." The letter to the Prime Minister that groups and individuals have signed says:
"Prime Minister, you recently visited Mexico and urged Mexican Senators to renew their efforts to advance women's rights. But at home you will not support the efforts of Canadian Senators to ensure that the Indian Act provides equality for Indian women and their descendants." "Canada's integrity, at home and abroad, depends on your commitments being trustworthy. We want to believe that your commitments to women are real, and that a new Nation-to-Nation relationship will include Indigenous women as full and equal participants. We need to see your espoused commitments turned into concrete reality." "We ask you to eliminate all sex discrimination from the Indian Act now...We ask you to accept the Senate's '6(1)(a) all the way' amendment to Bill S-3, and grant full status to Indian women and their descendants on the same footing as their male counterparts." For background information and to find out how to support the campaign to eliminate sex discrimination from the Indian Act, go here. For comment and further information, contact: Shelagh Day: Chair, Human Rights Committee Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action 604-872-0750 shelagh.day@gmail.com Sharon McIvor: 250-378-7479
Consult the PDF version of the press release here 

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