November 9, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – Following months of volleying between the Senate and the House of
Commons and through the tireless lobbying efforts of Indigenous women and allies over the course of
decades, Indigenous women will have the same rights as Indigenous men to pass down status to their
children. NWAC supports the revised Bill S-3 (An Act to Eliminate Sex-Based Discrimination in the Indian
Act) as tabled by Senator Peter Harder in the Senate on November 7, 2017, and is pleased to see
amendments that go further to eliminate sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act.
Bill S-3 is the Government of Canada’s response to the Descheneaux v. Canada decision, which found
the status registration sections within the Indian Act to be discriminatory towards women. The
Government has since missed several court-ordered deadlines to pass legislation that corrects the
injustice, and is facing down a final deadline set for December 22.
Senator Harder (the Liberal Government’s representative in the Senate) tabled a revised version of Bill S-
3 in the Senate on Tuesday. The revised Bill would bring the Act into Charter compliance as well as
address several contradictions contained in previous versions of the Bill. The legislation also includes a
comprehensive reporting clause that will be an important tool for advocates, parliamentarians, and
senators to hold the Government of Canada to its commitments to Indigenous women.
A point of concern in the revised Bill is that removal of the pre-1951 cut-off will only take place after a
consultation with communities to determine how they will be impacted by new registrants and prepare
accordingly. Ideally, NWAC would like more clarity around when, precisely, these amendments will
benefit women born prior to 1951. However, we are encouraged that the discussion will not be around
whether to accord women impacted by this cut-off these rights, but about how and when to do this in a
way that respects the rights of communities and fulfills the Government of Canada’s duty to consult.
NWAC remains concerned that the “No Liability” clause has remained in the legislation, hindering
Indigenous women’s access to justice and Charter damages. NWAC raised this issue in testimony to the
Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in May 2017.
NWAC recognizes that more work remains to ensure that the pre-1951 cut-off is removed, as enshrined
in the legislation. NWAC is in the process of designing a comprehensive consultation process that will
allow us to elevate the voices of grassroots Indigenous women and communities and ensure their
stories are told. Through these discussions, we will continue to hold the government accountable for its
commitments to all Indigenous women, and will work to ensure that non-status women who lost status
due to discrimination in the Indian Act are included in these consultations. NWAC will continue to work
towards the removal of all forms of discrimination in the Act.
For more information, please contact:
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 22