Who we are

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

What we do

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.

Learn more

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: UN Rules That Canada's Indian Act Discriminates Against First Nations Women

Please click here for the PDF version of the press release and visit this URL for more information on the decision.

(Vancouver, January 17, 2019) In a decision released January 14, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that Canada continues to discriminate against First Nations women and their descendants by denying them the same entitlement to full s. 6(1)(a) status under the Indian Act as First Nations men and their descendants. This long- standing discrimination affects First Nations women's entitlement to status, their right to transmit status, and their equality with First Nations men.

The Committee ruled that Canada is obligated to remove the discrimination and to ensure that all First Nations women and their descendants are granted status on the same footing as First Nations men and their descendants.

Sharon McIvor who filed the petition with the UN Human Rights Committee that resulted in this ruling said, “This decision is a game-changer for First Nations women, and for Canada. If the Government of Canada fulfills its obligations and finally treats First Nations women as equals, it will be a new day for us, for our communities and for Canada. First Nations women have been fighting against this discrimination in the courts and at the UN since 1970. I hope that Canada will now bring this devastating discrimination to an end.”

In December 2017, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that there are more than 270,000 women and their descendants who would be newly entitled to Indian status if 6(1)(a) status were granted to them on the same footing as Indian men and their descendants. "This is evidence of how profound and damaging the discrimination is" said Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. "Sex discrimination in the Indian Act has been a very effective tool of assimilation, defining First Nations women and their descendants out of the pool of status Indians to whom the Government of Canada owes recognition and benefits."

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated, “Canada has clung to the sex discrimination in the Indian Act despite years of struggle against it by Indigenous women and their allies, in courts, at the UN, and in Parliament when amendments were being debated. Canada admitted in 2017 that the discrimination continues, and it put provisions into Bill S-3 that would eliminate the discrimination, but it never brought those provisions into force. Canada knows how to fix the discrimination. It just needs to do it. And do it now. On September 21, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau told the United Nations General Assembly that 'the world expects Canada to adhere strictly to international human rights standards ...and that's what we expect of ourselves too.' That is what we all expect: that Canada will live up to its human rights obligations, now. We look forward to the Government of Canada's response."


Gwen Brodsky: "The UN Human Rights Committee says that Canada is obligated to provide an effective and enforceable remedy. This requires Canada to make full reparations, including: 1) ensuring that Sharon McIvor, Jacob Grismer, and all others excluded by, or granted only a lesser category of status, because of the sex-based distinctions in s. 6 of the Indian Act are granted full 6(1)(a) status; 2) addressing any residual discrimination in First Nations communities that arises from Canada’s sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act; 3) communicating the decision broadly in Canada; and 4) reporting back to the United Nations in 180 days to provide information about the measures it has taken to comply with this decision. This is a very significant remedy and one that requires immediate action."

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC: "This decision brings the Government of Canada's current consultation process into question once again. Some of the questions that Canada is consulting about, the United Nations has answered straightforwardly and clearly. All the women and their descendants who have been excluded by sex discrimination must be granted full status, including those born prior to 1951. There should be no delay in moving registration forward quickly and efficiently. The Government of Canada should address any residual discrimination in communities that could be caused because of the addition of new members to communities or Bands, and any need for additional resources, rather than continuing to focus all their energy on trying to force pipelines through and causing further human rights violations. We need this discrimination to end, and end now."

Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action: "This sex discrimination has been in the law in Canada for more than one hundred years. It has had a profoundly damaging effect. The fact that First Nations women have been treated overtly, in law, as though they are the property of men, second class, and not equal, has had the effect of marginalizing First Nations women in their own communities and in the broader society. It is not surprising that in their reports on the crisis of murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls, both the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that historical Indian Act sex discrimination is a root cause of the shocking levels of violence against Indigenous women. Canada cannot improve the lives of First Nations women and girls, and reduce their risk of violence, until Canada gets rid of Indian Act sex discrimination, completely and for all time."

Contact Information:
Gwen Brodsky: 604-874-9211
Dr. Pamela Palmater: 905-903-5563 Sharon McIvor: 250-378-7479
Shelagh Day: 604-872-0750
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip: 250-490-5314 Kukpi7 Judy Wilson: 250-320-7738


WHAT: The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Indian Act sex discrimination violates Canada's international treaty obligations, and Canada must end the discrimination. The UN ruling comes as a result of years of advocacy led by Sharon McIvor, in Canadian courts and at the international level, to secure the right to equal status under the Indian Act for First Nations women and their descendants.

DATE: Thursday January 17, 2019


LOCATION: Union of BC Indian Chiefs- 312 Main Street, Vancouver (entrance on Cordova)

Live webcast: https://www.facebook.com/UBCIC/


Sharon McIvor, Petitioner in McIvor v. Canada
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President UBCIC
Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
Gwen Brodsky, Counsel to Sharon McIvor
Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Neskonlith Indian Band, Secretary-Treasurer UBCIC

CONTACT: Ellena Neel, UBCIC Communications Coordinator – (604) 762-1812 or eneel@ubcic.bc.ca

Click here to view the PDF version.

Job Posting: FAFIA Project Director

Job Description:

The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) is currently hiring a Project Director (Ontario - Ottawa Area) for a three-year full-time contract to implement a project to:

(1) increase the knowledge of women, and women’s rights/equality-seeking organizations, about women's human rights, international and regional human rights instruments that guarantee those rights, and mechanisms for enforcing them; and

(2) to assist them to integrate human rights standards and recommendations from international and regional human rights bodies into their work in Canada. 


Experience with feminist/human rights issues

  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest, human rights, and feminist issues
  • Working knowledge of international human rights treaties’ reporting mechanisms and other international and regional mechanisms
  • Experience with conducting intersectional feminist analysis

Leadership & Partnerships

  • Ability to design strategies, and work creatively to use human rights mechanisms and fora to advance women's human rights
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective relationships with staff, members, groups, funders and partners, volunteers, and community groups
  • Ability to mentor and support the capacity of FAFIA members and partners to meaningfully participate in rights implementation
  • Experience representing an organization’s interests to other rights organizations, media, government, and the public
  • Experience working within a collaborative framework (for example, with coalitions, advisory boards, and multiple stakeholders) including organizing and leading discussion in workshops and webinars

Management & Financial Experience

  • Experience in the management or coordination of a non-profit organization, non-governmental organization, or charity, and experience with financial/budgetary management, ideally with a social justice background
  • Grant/proposal/report writing experience
  • Excellent organizational skills including time management, prioritization, independent worker, action plan development, goal setting and monitoring, decision making, progress reporting
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication (oral, written and social media) skills, including cross-cultural skills, fluency in English is required, fluency in French is an asset
  • Strong skills using programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Twitter, Facebook, WebEx or other web-based communication platforms an asset
  • Experience in accessible and inclusive communication is an asset
  • Travel flexibility required; ability to obtain a valid passport required


This position is a full-time three-year contract.  A competitive salary and benefits package, appropriately related to experience will be offered. Please send a letter of interest (that specifically addresses how your skills and experience meet the qualifications section above) and cv to the attention of the hiring committee at communications@fafia-afai.org before 4pm on January 13th, 2019. Please ensure you put “Project Director” in the subject line of the email. Successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Indigenous women, racialized women, women with disabilities, women from gender and sexually diverse communities and/or women with intersecting oppressions are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more detailed information on this job posting, please click here or visit Charity Village.

Support Our Work

We rely on the generous contributions from our supporters! Your funding will support research and public education on women’s human rights. Please make a pledge below, your generosity will help us to continue our work.

Make a contribution