Canada's Original Think Tank

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: 

Honourable senators, on Thursday, February 28, 2019, the Senate unanimously passed my motion, which urges the government to bring into force the remaining provisions of Bill S-3 no later than June 21, 2019. I would like to thank all senators who participated in the debate and all senators for adopting the motion unanimously. This continues the strong leadership of the Senate in continually pushing the government to eliminate all sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act registry.

Colleagues, the SNC-Lavalin issue has dominated the attention of the media over the past several weeks. Consequently, despite its importance, the historic ruling by the United Nations Human Rights Committee of January 11, ordering Canada to remedy the hierarchical sex-based discrimination in section 6 of the Indian Act, and our Senate motion urging Canada to comply with this ruling by June 21, 2019, have largely gone unnoticed by news reporters.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Trudeau made a formal apology to Inuit for the federal government’s management of the tuberculosis epidemic from the 1940s to the 1960s. Even at that important event, reporters wanted to ask questions about the SNC-Lavalin issue instead of focusing on the apology. At this apology and his earlier press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed his government’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people. He also reaffirmed his commitment to justice.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet have the perfect opportunity now to demonstrate these commitments to reconciliation and justice by complying with the UN Human Rights Committee order by June 21, 2019, as in our Senate motion. Colleagues, justice has been denied to First Nations women and their descendants for 150 years. It is high time for Canada to ensure that First Nations women — the matriarchs — have the same legal rights as First Nations men to pass on their status to their descendants.

June 21 is not only the last sitting day of the House of Commons, it is also National Aboriginal Day. Fulling implementing Bill S-3 on this day would be most appropriate and a major step in the path to reconciliation and justice for Indigenous women and their descendants.

Thank you. Kinanaskomitin.