Continued Discrimination under the Indian Act

Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions - Morny Joy

Beverly Jacobs [+-]
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario
Dr. Beverly Jacobs is from the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Bear Clan. She is an alumna and now assistant professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario. She obtained a Master’s degree in Law at the University of Saskatchewan in 2000 and an Interdisciplinary PhD (Indigenous Legal Orders, Aboriginal Rights Law, Indigenous Wholistic Health and Indigenous Research Methodologies) from the University of Calgary in 2018. Dr. Jacobs has been an activist and was the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada from 2004 to 2009. Her passionate defence of Indigenous women, who are historically and currently being discriminated against under the Indian Act with its sexist and racist policies, is at the heart of her chapter – graphically describing their continued oppression.


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 The Act, originally enacted in 1876, has had a few amendments since that time.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.

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Jacobs, Beverly. Continued Discrimination under the Indian Act. Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781798393. Date accessed: 14 Dec 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38845. Jan 2020

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