Native Women's Property Rights

If you've seen a family go through divorce, you know how agonizing the division of property can be. Many first nations communities in Canada don't have rules that protect each spouse's claim the federal government wants to step in. But is it about protecting the vulnerable or another example of paternalism?

Part Two of The Current

Native Women's Property Rights - Line Paré

When a marriage collapses, there are rules about what happens to the couple's possessions. Sorting out who gets the silverware isn't always pretty ... though the law can be very clear on how it's to be done. Yet, for many native Canadians on reserves however, there is no process. The provincial laws governing matrimonial property rights don't apply on reserves. There are no federal laws. And many First Nations have no laws either.

Many aboriginal women says the legal vacuum leaves them with no claim to their own property. The federal government has introduced a new bill that is meant to address the problem. But there's resistance from some Native communities. They believe the bill threatens the foundations of Aboriginal self-determination.

To walk us through the bill, we began with Line Paré. She's the Director General of External Relations with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. She was in Ottawa.

Native Women's Property Rights - Pamela Palmater/ Jean Teillet

For response to this legislation we were joined by Pamela Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University in Toronto. And Jean Teillet is a Metis aboriginal rights lawyer in Vancouver.

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