The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) is dismayed that the Government of Canada has introduced legislation (Bill S 3) to amend the Indian Act, which, one more time, will not remove all the sex discrimination in the status registration provisions.
Since at least 1906, Indian status has been defined on the basis of patrilineal descent, and male Indians and their descendants have been privileged. The almost fifty years of struggle by Mary Two Axe Early, Jeanette Corbière Lavell, Yvonne Bedard, Sandra Lovelace and Sharon McIvor to see the sex discrimination removed has been only partially successful. Canada has repeatedly made piecemeal amendments, which remove some aspects of the discrimination but re enact the bulk of it.
We find it hard to understand why the Liberal Government, which has espoused a new commitment to Indigenous peoples and to women, would, in 2016, make only those amendments which are required to cure the discrimination identified by the Quebec Superior Court in its August 2016 decision in Deschenaux v. AG Canada, and leave the rest of the sex discrimination in place.
We find this especially difficult to understand in light of the explicit assurances that Canada and Minister Bennett made last summer, that the Government of Canada intended, not just to cure Deschenaux, but to remove “all known sex discrimination” from the Indian Act, as part of the first stage of reforms.