Ottawa to change Indian Act in response to Descheneaux ruling by February
A Quebec Superior Court ruled that sections of the act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Liberal government plans to rid the Indian Act of rules that discriminate based on sex.
The move is partly in response to a Quebec Superior Court decision last August that ruled certain sections of the Indian Act having to do with the registration of status violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That case was brought by Stephane Descheneaux, who comes from the Abenaki community of Odanak, about 40 kilometres northwest of Drummondville, Que.
Descheneaux was unable to pass on his Indian status to his three daughters because he got it through his Indigenous grandmother, who lost her status when she married a non-Indigenous man.
Had his Aboriginal grandparent been a man, he would have been able to keep his status, as well as be able to pass it on to his wife, their children and grandchildren.
The previous Conservative government had appealed the ruling, but the Liberals withdrew that appeal in February.
They have until February 3, 2017, to implement the changes.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says the government would be working with Indigenous organizations to come up with changes to the Indian Act required by the Descheneaux ruling, but also other aspects of Indian Act registration that discriminate based on whether people — or their ancestors — are male or female.
Bennett says she's committed to launching a second stage that will involve working with Aboriginal peoples to take a broader look at "systemic issues" regarding registration, membership, citizenship and identity for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-status Indians.
The Conservative government launched an exploratory process to examine some of the same issues in 2011.