Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas:
Honourable senators, I stand before you to say thank you for your collective support to end gender discrimination for all indigenous women which is enshrined in the amendment to Bill S-3. I also want to thank all the members of the Aboriginal Committee on both sides, and in particular I thank my indigenous male colleagues for standing in the Senate Chamber in support of their sisters.
It has been a long road from 1867 to 2017. So many people have given their time and lives in the hope that the government would finally see them as fully human and deserving of their status and equal rights. It is still difficult for me to accept that it has taken this long to grant indigenous women equal rights in a land that is their birthright.
As much as I support the amendment to Bill S-3, I have to say I am concerned about what will follow in the months ahead. Without a specific date, that still leaves thousands of indigenous women in limbo.
Without a specific date for the enactment of the bill, it feels like we are in another situation of take-it-or-leave-it legislation. Indigenous people have a long history of being brought to the brink of a better relationship with the government only to have it postponed, denied or forgotten; half promises and partial settlements followed. So you will understand that I am not celebrating until I see this government follow through and this bill and its amendments become law.
I sincerely hope that this time the government will do the right thing and not delay any longer and end gender discrimination once and for all. This will be a big step towards reconciliation.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!