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KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE ON THE LATEST ISSUES AFFECTING YOU
On December 15, 2010, the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act (Bill C-3) received Royal Assent and came into force on January 31, 2011. The intent of the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act is to ensure that eligible grandchildren of women who lost status as a result of marrying non-Indian men are entitled to registration (Indian Status).
In April 2009, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia ruled in the case of McIvor v. Canada that certain registration provisions under the Indian Act are unconstitutional as they violate the gender equality provision within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-3 is the federal response to the B.C. Court of Appeal McIvor decision. It is estimated that 45,000 people will become entitled to registration.
Individuals who want to register must submit application forms on or after January 31, 2011. More information about the registration process is available on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) website at:
For PDF version of the application form: Click Here
Matrimonial real property refers to the family home and land. Upon separation or divorce there is currently no applicable legislation or guidelines for the division of matrimonial property under the Indian Act or by virtue of case law. Each marriage or common-law relationship is treated individually on a case-by-case basis.
In July 2010, the Senate passed An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves (Bill S-4). The Bill still has to pass readings in the House of Commons. The Crown claims this legislation will offer protection for matrimonial real property rights for women and children. The proposed legislation will provide immediate protections on the fair division of the family home to residents living on-reserve when facing the breakdown of a relationship or death of a spouse. It would also provide protection in instances of family violence through measures such as emergency protection orders. The proposed legislation also includes a mechanism for First Nations to develop their own matrimonial real property laws.
The Assembly of First Nations and Native Women's Association of Canada believe that the legislation attempts to pit the individual rights of women against the collective rights of First Nations people. Implications of Bill S-4 threatens to jeopardize First Nations’ ability to determine residency on reserves and places increased pressure on already strained space availability on reserves. It may also result in forcing families into provincial courts, which can be unaffordable, generate long waiting periods, and place women experiencing family violence at further risk. First Nation communities and organizations are extremely concerned that Bill S-4 will be imposed on First Nations without adequate consultation.
In September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The UNDRIP is an expression of fundamental, individual and collective, rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. The UNDRIP addresses issues such as culture, identity, language, health and education and provides guiding principles for the relationships between Governments and Indigenous Peoples.
When the UNDRIP was adopted in 2007, by more than 140 countries at the UN General Assembly, four UN member nations, including Canada, opposed. Australia and New Zealand have since reversed their position. Canada expressed the intention to endorse UNDRIP in the March 2010 Speech from the Throne. On November 12, 2010, Canada announced its endorsement of the UNDRIP.
The Assembly of First Nations envisions working with the Federal Government to develop an implementation plan that ensure that the standards set out in the UNDRIP are reflected within the laws and policies of Canada including Treaties, comprehensive claims, self-government and the full range of issues affecting First Nation and Canada relations.
INAC will be issuing secure status cards (SCIS). The SCIS application process has not yet been formalized by INAC (INAC Regional Office - Toronto contact 416-973-5283), but we will post information when it is available. The SCIS will have the benefit of:
Despite the June 1, 2009 deadline for all Canadian and US citizens to obtain passports, First Nations citizens traveling to the U.S. by land and water will still be able to use their status cards as approved identification at border crossings. However, this is only a temporary measure – approved by both Canada and U.S. Homeland Security – until INAC rolls out the new SCIS cards.