NWAC supports the implementation of legal frameworks affecting First Nations membership and citizenship that respect and conform to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These frameworks must include the right to self-determination and the equality of all sexes and genders.
“ We must challenge and break free from Indian Act thinking and remember that communities exist for more than providing services; they provide political representation in Nation-to-Nation relationships with Canada.” 1
– Jocelyn Formsma. NWAC National Symposium on First Nations, Membership and Indigenous Rights, November 2018.
NWAC is working to combat gender-based discrimination under the Indian Act and bring changes to the legislation to ensure the laws respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). First Nations women continue to be discriminated against based on their sex, age and marital status. NWAC is fighting to advance the legal and policy solutions to end these injustices.
Indian status under the Indian Act provided Canada with control over First Nations. The objective was to enfranchise First Nations, meaning to provide them with settler citizenship and eliminate Indigenous traditions and cultures, including matriarchal lineage systems. The Indian Act deprived First Nations women of access to their Indigenous communities for marrying non-status men or when their husbands became enfranchised.
Parliament attempted to remove the discriminatory provisions of the registration provisions from the Indian Act to conform with the Canadian Charter of Human Rights in 1985. As a result, new forms of discrimination based on sex were created from those amendments.
NWAC has engaged with grassroots Indigenous women to help advocate for their rights and interests. NWAC facilitates discussions on these issues amongst Indigenous leaders, legal scholars, civil society and government to promote the removal of discrimination and other inequities from the legislation.
- End sex-based discrimination against single First Nations mothers by eliminating thesecond generation cut-off rule.
- Call into force the remaining provisions of Bill S-3. Once implemented,ensure First Nations are provided with the necessary resources to deal with the projected increase in demand for housing, education, health and public services in communities.
- Negotiateon a Nation-to-Nation basis with First Nations to remove all involvement the Federal Government has in determining First Nations status, membership or citizenship. The resulting frameworks must comply with UNDRIP.