MONTREAL — Quebec native Women is launching a petition calling for the abolition of the Indian Act – “a law as archaic, patriarchal, and assimilationist who no longer has a reason to be”.
At a press conference Saturday, the president of Quebec native Women (FAQ), Viviane Michel, recalled that the law still restricts disproportionately the transmission of Indian status by women.
The Committee of human rights of the united Nations had accused Canada of violating its international obligations for this same reason last month, after a long battle led by Sharon McIvor, of the band of Lower Nicola Valley, British Columbia.
“Once again, the Indian Act has been declared discriminatory. We want to ensure that this battle will be the last”, has launched Viviane Michel, in the framework of the public forum Sha tetiónkwate, in downtown Montreal.
The activist from an innu community of the North Shore has pointed out that the women from First nations multiplied over the last decades, the legal challenges to the Indian Act.
“Each time, they have earned. Each time, the government has done the bare minimum,” she said.
Quebec native women requires, in parallel, the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, with a particular focus on their right to self-determination.
The organization that points out this year its 45th anniversary to file for a petition to the House of commons in the month of June, through the new democrat member of parliament Alexandre Boulerice.
“It is recognition also of a past of centuries of colonialism and racism towards the First Nations,” said the member of parliament for Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.
“Completely different” from 1969
The ex-prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau had already proposed to abolish the Indian Act, but his famous white Paper had led to a major strike shield within indigenous peoples.
This time, it is question of a proposal for a “completely different” from that of Trudeau’s father, who wished to eliminate the special status of First Nations and assimilate them, ” says Eloise Décoste, legal analyst and policy to FAQ.
“The Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples provides a protection tool that there was not in 1969, so it can carry on the conversation further,” she says.
A draft law aimed at ensuring the harmony of the federal laws with the UN declaration was adopted in the House of commons last spring. The bill C-262, which emanates from the elect cry Romeo saganash section, is currently under consideration in the Senate.
“It is important to resist this attachment to the Indian Act because the context has changed and this love-hate has always been to the detriment of women”, argued Ms. Décoste.
The Indian Act, which aimed openly to the eradication of the culture of First Nations, sets out the obligations of the government toward them and the eligibility for legal Indian status.
Until 1985, the right of women to that status depended on their husbands. A woman who married a man without status lost, therefore, the own – and at the same time, the right to live in his community. Conversely, a female immigrant was granted Indian status by marrying a man that is recognized as such by the canadian government.
“This idea-there was obviously a very patriarchal and sexist, but it was also a colonial project, is Éloise Décoste. By excluding aboriginal women and by bringing the non-aboriginal women in the communities, it created an interruption of the transmission of language and culture.”
Although these terms were dropped in 1985, aboriginal women still face more difficulty to pass on their status to their offspring, that their vis-à-vis men. So well that no person will be eligible for Indian status by some fifty years, according to the calculations of Ms. Décoste.
For Viviane Michel, it is high time to turn the page : “We want to turn the future, but we always have to fight just to reaffirm our right to exist.”