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Press Release

United Nations Human Rights Committee Findings That Indian Act Still Discriminates Against First Nations Women, NWAC Urges Federal Government To Act

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 Act discriminate 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.


Media Contact:

For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Annette Goerner
+1 (613) 818-6941

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou prendre des dispositions pour une interview, contacter:

Annette Goerner
+1 (613) 818-6941

About The Native Women’s Association of Canada
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies.

À propos de l'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada

L'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) est une organisation autochtone nationale qui représente la voix politique des femmes, des filles, des transgenres, des bispirituels et des personnes de sexe différent au Canada, y compris les membres des Premières nations vivant dans les réserves et hors réserve, les Indiens inscrits et non inscrits, les personnes privées de leurs droits, les Métis et les Inuits. Regroupant des organisations de femmes autochtones de tout le pays, l'AFAC a été fondée dans le but collectif d'améliorer, de promouvoir et de favoriser le bien-être social, économique, culturel et politique des femmes autochtones au sein de leurs communautés respectives et des sociétés canadiennes.