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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.

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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


Please find the PDF version here

Ottawa, April 9th - "The sex discrimination in the Indian Act must be eliminated before the election is called," said Sharon McIvor, who filed a successful petition with the UN Human Rights Committee, challenging the sex discrimination. "First Nations women and their descendants still do not have the same right to Indian status and to transmission of status as their male counterparts. I do not have the same full Indian status as my brother, and that is only because I am a woman. This discrimination is a disgrace to Canada, and the Government of Canada knows it has to end." Today in Ottawa First Nations rights advocates, Sharon McIvor, Dr. Pamela Palmater, and Jeannette Corbiere Lavell joined with Francyne Joe, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), Dawn Lavell Harvard, President of the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) and Viviane Michel, President of the Quebec Native Women's Association (QNW) and with Senator Lillian Dyck, to call on the Government to end the discrimination before the election. They also released an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, and Ministers Bennett, Lametti, and Monsef, signed by over 600 organizations and individuals, calling for an end to the discrimination. Because of the insistence of the Senate of Canada, the latest amendment to the Indian Act, Bill S-3, includes provisions that would eliminate the core sex discrimination, but these provisions are not in force. They can be brought into force by Order-in-Council, that is, by a Cabinet decision, any Tuesday. "We are calling on the Government of Canada to do this, now, before the election, "said Senator Lillian Dyck. "The Senate of Canada unanimously supports this. The discrimination must end." Francyne Joe, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said, "First Nations women have waited and waited for it to be our turn, for our lives and concerns to be important enough to grab the attention of Government. The Government must show their concern for us, especially before the election. Stop our treatment as second-class human beings, just let us be equal in law." "We want the immediate implementation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s ruling on Sharon McIvor's petition," said Dr. Pamela Palmater. "The UN Committee ruled on January 11, 2019 that the sex discrimination in the Indian Act violates the rights of First Nations women to the equal protection of the law and to the equal enjoyment of Indigenous culture. These rights are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," said Dr. Palmater. "They are also guaranteed by UNDRIP. We recall Prime Minister Trudeau's words to the UN General Assembly in
September 2017. He said 'the world expects Canada to adhere strictly to international human rights standards, including UNDRIP, and that’s what we expect of ourselves too.' That's what First Nations women expect of Prime Minister Trudeau now." "This sex discrimination has done terrible harm to First Nations women, their children and their communities over decades," said Dawn Lavell Harvard. "Because my mother, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, lost her Indian status by marrying out, I have watched this damage through my own life. Women have been tossed out of their communities, from their places, languages, and cultures, and families are torn apart. Women have been deemed to be lesser parents, unable to pass on status in the way men can, and branded as traitors for 'marrying out'. Communities themselves are forced to discriminate against their own people because they are only provided with financial transfers to support those with status. Surely it is time to begin to heal this harm. That can only begin by finally entitling First Nations women to the same status as their male counterparts." "Soon the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will release its report" said Viviane Michel. "The Government of Canada needs to respond to their report quickly to show us that Indigenous women are not second class, not disposable, and to demonstrate that the Government understands that treating Indigenous women as lesser human beings, in law, has deadly results. Both the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have found, in their investigations of murders and disappearances in Canada, that Indian Act sex discrimination is a root cause of the violence. One thing the Government of Canada can do immediately to respond to the crisis of murders and disappearances is to eliminate the discrimination from the Indian Act." "I have been fighting this sex discrimination for fifty years now," said Jeannette Corbiere Lavell. "Before I join my ancestors, I think I should have equal Indian status with Indian men. I stand for justice for First Nations women now."

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Contact information: Sharon McIvor: 250-378-7479/bearclaw@shaw.ca; Pamela Palmater: 905-903-5563/ppalmater@politics.ryerson.ca; Dawn Lavell Harvard: contact Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager, 647-970- 7661/amorriseau@onwa.ca; Francyne Joe: contact Director of Communications, Lucy Juneau, 343-997-3756, ljuneau@nwac.ca,
Jeannette Corbiere Lavell: lavelljeannette@gmail.com Senator Lillian Dyck: contact Nicholas1.Salahor@sen.parl.gc.ca 613-995-4318 (office) 613-761-0600 (cell) Shelagh Day (FAFIA): 604-872-0750/shelagh.day@gmail.comFor further information, see: http://fafia-afai.org/en/solidarity-campaign/#tab-3

Sign on now and end sex discrimination in the Indian Act!

1. Please sign on to this letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Minister of Justice asking them to remove the sex discrimination from the Indian Act now; to sign on, send us an email at communications@fafia-afai.org by March 20 with your name, if you are signing as an individual, or the name of your organization, and/or the name of all the individuals at your organization that would like to sign on. We will keep a continuous list and post it on our website at the end of the deadline.

2. For background information on Indian Act sex discrimination, please go here.

3. To see the UN decision, please go here.

Press Release: Coalition calls for urgent action to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls 

Click here for the PDF version.

February 6, 2019


OTTAWA – A coalition of human rights organizations has released their report of recommendations to the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in which they call for a crisis-level response to the increasing rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), Canada Without Poverty, and Dr Pamela Palmater, the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, made their oral submissions to the National Inquiry and filed written submissions in December of last year. In the report, made public today, the group calls for urgent, comprehensive, and transformative action from all levels of government in Canada.

"Canada is in the midst of a human rights crisis of its own making. Discriminatory laws, policies, and practices have created an infrastructure of violence and Indigenous women and girls are dying because of it,” said Dr. Palmater.

“Simply tweaking programs and services or making minor amendments to laws will not end the violence. We need immediate, radical and strategic action - substantive remedies that match the scope and character of the human rights violations.”

Shelagh Day, Chair of the Human Rights Committee of FAFIA, said “Indigenous women, civil society organizations, and international human rights authorities have repeatedly urged Canada to act strategically and urgently. So far, Canada's responses have been un-coordinated, piecemeal, and ineffective. Our coalition is calling for a national co-ordinated action plan to attack the root causes of the violence with resources to support change and timelines for implementation. Nothing less will do.”

“This is a human rights crisis in Canada,” said Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty. “This ongoing violence is a failure to protect the human rights of Indigenous women and girls, and now we need human rights action on the part of the Canadian government. We expect our governments to live up to the international and domestic commitments they have made to treat Indigenous women and girls as equal human beings, worthy of dignity, respect, and protection.”

"The extreme violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls is no accident," added Dr. Palmater. “Historic and current practices of institutions and governments result in Indigenous women and girls being treated as lesser human beings– sexualized, racialized, and disposable. Governments have to be willing to take responsibility, to be accountable, and to dismantle laws and practices that perpetuate the violence. Indigenous women's lives depend on it."

The recommendations from the National Inquiry will be issued in April 2019. The coalition’s written and oral submissions made to the National Inquiry can be found at: http://fafia-afai.org/wp- content/uploads/2019/02/MMIW-Inquiry-Report-FINALFeb52019.pdf


Canada Without Poverty (CWP) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, and charitable organization dedicated to ending poverty in Canada. For nearly 50 years, CWP has been championing the rights of individuals experiencing poverty and marginalization through research, awareness-building campaigns, public policy development, and educational programming. See more at: www.cwp- csp.ca.

The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) is an alliance of more than sixty women’s organizations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with specialized expertise on women’s human rights. FAFIA is dedicated to advancing the equality of all women, and to ensuring that Canadian governments respect, protect, and fulfill the commitments to women that they have made under international human rights law.

Dr. Pamela Palmater holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University and is one of Canada’s leading authors and commentators on current laws and policies that impact Indigenous peoples and Nations. As well as teaching and writing, Dr. Palmater provides advice directly to First Nation communities, and serves as an expert, appearing before various domestic and international investigatory bodies on government laws, policies, and practices that affect Indigenous peoples.

For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Laura Neidhart
Canada Without Poverty
Phone: 613-293-2446 | Email: laura@cwp-csp.ca

Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action Phone: 604-872-0750 |Email: shelagh.day@gmail.com

Dr. Pamela Palmater
Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University Email: ppalmater@politics.ryerson.ca

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