Bill S-3 – “A huge victory for Indigenous women in this country”

by Tammy MacDonald

The following is distributed by the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI

For Immediate Release

Charlottetown, PEI – 20 August 2019

Bill S-3 – “A huge victory for Indigenous women in this country”

On August 15, 2019, the Government of Canada fully implemented the Bill S-3 amendments to the Indian Act.  In bringing the Bill fully into force, government removed the 1951 cut off from the Indian status registry.  Individuals who were born before 1985 and who are the descendants of women who lost their status because of their marriage to a non-Indian man will now be entitled to be registered as a status Indian in accordance with the Indian Act.

“First Nations women have been fighting for decades to have the sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act corrected.” said Chief Darlene Bernard of the Lennox Island First Nation. “This is a huge victory for Indigenous women in this country, their children, and our communities.  It also raises the more important discussion on Nationhood and what that should look like for our people.  The Indian Act does not determine who is Mi’kmaq.”

Bill S-3 was developed in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux v. Canada, which challenged the sex-based discriminations that remained in the Indian Act following amendments in 1985 that were intended to address the discrimination resulting from women having lost status due to marriage to a non-Indian man.  Government estimates of the number of individuals newly entitled to be registered due to the Bill S-3 amendments are between 270,000 and 450,000.

“We are pleased to see this discrimination finally addressed by Canada and we look forward to the full implementation of status for those descendants who have been denied for so long.  We are also calling on government to address the related land and financial implications for our communities to ensure that our First Nations have the necessary resources as we welcome all newly entitled status members”, said Chief Junior Gould of the Abegweit First Nation.

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Government of Canada Backgrounder:

https://www.canada.ca/en/crown-indigenous-relations-northern-affairs/news/2019/08/removal-of-the-1951-cut-off.html

For more information please contact: communications@mcpei.ca

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