Ottawa, ON— On January 14, 2019 the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) released a decision on Sharon McIvor’s petition claiming registration provisions in the Indian Actdiscriminate against First Nations women, and their descendants, on the basis of sex.
The Committee found Canada failed to adequately protect First Nations women from discrimination. They stated Canada is obligated to remove existing sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. Canada must ensure all First Nations women and their descendants are eligible for Indian Status on equal footing as First Nations men.
For decades, grassroots Indigenous women, and organizations like NWAC have advocated for the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Sex-based discriminationmeans First Nations women are more likely to be disenfranchised and face barriers in accessing services like healthcare and housing.
Since 1985, numerous amendments try to remove sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act, but none achieved full equality for First Nations women and their descendants.
If implemented, the second phase of provisions under Bill S-3 would remove all of the sex-based discrimination McIvor, and people in her circumstances, face. UNHRC cautioned Canada to ensure similar violations do not occur again.
Canada has180 days to report back on measures taken to fix the issue. The federal government can easily take the necessary actions and set a specific date to implement the second phase of provisions under Bill S-3.
NWAC calls on the federal government to take immediate action. A more expansive approach is required to account for all discriminatory provisions, including the second generation cut-off rule and the burden of proof to establish “Indian parentage”.
This ruling is historic for many First Nations women and their descendants. Indigenous women deserve nothing less than full equality. Canada must act now. Canada must stop discriminating.