Continued Discrimination under the Indian Act
Beverly Jacobs [+]
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario
The amendments to the Indian Act over the past forty-four years have done very little to assist First Nations women and their children in their fight to reclaim their identity and their connections to their ancestry. The Act, originally enacted in 1876, has had a few amendments since that time. In 1982, the Constitution Act of Canada was legislated and with it came the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so the federal government was designated to remove any discrimination in all of its legislation. This included the Indian Act. The amendments following were in 1985, commonly referred to as Bill C-31 as well as C-3 in 2011 and S-3 in 2017. These amendments have resulted in many heated and disturbing conflicts amongst First Nations people, including First Nations women and their children who have been directly affected by the sexually discriminating sections of the Act. This chapter provides a historical overview of the Act, its origins and its inherent racist and sexist policies. As well it discusses those amendments affecting First Nations women and her descendants, specifically the registration and membership provisions that continue to discriminate against First Nations Women and her descendants who are both male and female.