Over 150 years after its implementation, the Indian Act still discriminates against women
Dozens of women took to the streets in Montreal on Saturday to protest how the 1867 Indian Act is still proving to be discriminatory over 150 years after it was signed into law.
Despite amendments over the years, the act still makes it difficult for women to pass their status on to their descendants.
“The cut-off would be at my son because my father is considered non-native,” said Sedalia Fazio, a Mohawk elder.
It’s a battle that has gone on for decades.
In 1994, Sharon McIvor, now 70, brought a constitutional challenge to sex discrimination clauses in the Indian Act.
She and her son, Jacob Grismer, now 47, alleged that they had not been treated like “real Indians” because of loopholes in the legislation.
In November 2010, Sharon McIvor filed a complaint against Canada to the United Nations.
“Canada continues to discriminate against Aboriginal women and their descendants in the determination of eligibility for registration as an Indian,” she said in a statement in November.
“Versions of the Indian Act, going back to the 19th century, have given preference to male Indians as transmitters of status, and to descendants of male Indians. Despite amendments made to the Indian Act when the Charter came into effect in 1985, Aboriginal women are still not treated equally as transmitters of status, and many thousands of descendants of Aboriginal women are denied status as a result.”
In January, the UN agreed and said that the law discriminated against women.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously referred to the Indian Act as a “colonialist relic.”
Over 800 people have signed a petition circulated by the Quebec Native Women’s Association that will be tabled in the House of Commons.
“We have a history of colonialism, racism, and discrimination against First Nations, especially against women,” said Rosemont MP Alexandre Boulerice.
“We want to fix that. It’s about time.”