Native Women’s Association of Canada Breaks Ground on New Social and Cultural Innovation Centre

July 12, 2019

(OTTAWA, ON)- On the morning of July 12, 2019, the staff of the Native Women’s Association of Canada gathered around a building in Hull, QB and each took their turn sprinkling tobacco at its base. It was a momentous occasion for NWAC staff, but an even greater one for Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people across Canada. It was the ground breaking ceremony for NWAC’s new Social and Cultural Innovation Centre.

After a smudging by Elder Roseann Martin, NWAC CEO Lynne Groulx expressed the significance of the new building:

“We will offer supports and services and workshops tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people who are impacted by ongoing structural, institutional and individual and aggravated forms of discrimination and sexism and stereotypes. The recent final Inquiry report described all of this in its recent report and called it a GENOCIDE stemming from colonization,” she said.

This will be the very first centre of its kind in Canada and the world.

In an effort to directly respond to the recommendations of the final Inquiry report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, part of the new building will be devoted to a Resiliency Centre.

“It will offer trauma-informed, culturally-appropriate and gender-based services, infusing traditional healing, medicines and teachings,” said Groulx.

The new centre will also provide a platform of economic empowerment for Indigenous women entrepreneurs who can sell their products in the NWAC Boutique called “Originelle”.

“By doing so, we will be removing barriers to ensure the wellbeing, socio-economic advancement and self-sufficiency of Indigenous women and their families,” said Groulx.

Gail Paul, NWAC Interim President, was also there with powerful words:

“The Social and Cultural Innovation Centre is one step forward in a journey of many steps. It will provide supports and services that are created by Indigenous women for Indigenous women. A place where we feel safe, understood and empowered. It will be a place for Indigenous women to heal, reconnect and grow in the aftermath of the MMIWG findings of Genocide. It is a place of hope and health. A place to celebrate our culture, our resilience and our future!”

The hope, both women expressed, is not only for this centre to succeed in healing and empowering Indigenous women, but for it to inspire the creation of many others across Canada and the world.

Paul said the ground breaking ceremony is testament to what can be accomplished when Indigenous women are at the decision-making table.

“It represents what is possible when Indigenous women have their voices heard and respected. It is also a reminder to all of us of our potential and our spirit when we work together.”


Media Inquiries:

Steven Pink
Senior Director of Legal and Policy
[email protected]

Sen. McCallum’s Amendments to Bill S-3 Mark a Historic Moment in Canadian Environmental Law

Bill C-69 has received royal assent, quietly making history in Canadian environmental legislation. While vociferous opponents and supporters of the bill have garnered heated media coverage on legislated timelines and ministerial powers under the new Impact Assessment Act, there has been little coverage of Senator Mary Jane McCallum’s success in introducing to Canadian environmental legislation, for the first time, provisions requiring involvement of Indigenous women, specifically.

Minister McKenna introduced Bill C-69 in February 2018 after extensive national consultations through an expert panel. The purpose of the bill is to reform environmental assessment processes of industrial projects to gain a fuller understanding of the positive and negative effects of industrial projects and to restore public confidence in assessment processes and decisions. Among many other reforms, Bill C-69 will require early engagement with Indigenous peoples and consideration of project impacts on the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors (read “Indigenous women”). 

While these are significant strides forward in ensuring decision-making related to industrial projects respects the rights of indigenous peoples, there remained a gap in ensuring the voices of Indigenous women were heard in these processes. Because Indigenous women experience disproportionate risks of sexual violence, environmental contamination and social-economic harms, it is important that impact assessment processes take these risks into consideration so that the proper conditions can be put on projects to reduce or eliminate these harms.

In an effort to ameliorate protections for Indigenous women and girls under Bill C-69, Senator Mary Jane McCallum introduced amendments at the Senate standing Committee on Energy and the Environment. While it was clear that many senators were uncomfortable making specific reference to Indigenous women, Senator McCallum successfully advocated for these provisions and secured, for the first time in Canadian environmental legislation, language specifically referencing Indigenous women.

This is a significant victory for Indigenous rights and feminism in Canada. Including the voices of women in impact assessment processes will ensure that their knowledge, experience and concerns are properly heard and considered. This will lead to better decision-making for industrial projects and a more just society. 

Regardless of where one stands on the debate around legislative reform of environmental assessment, there is no doubt that the inclusion of the voice of strong Indigenous women, such as Senator McCallum, in public discourse and law reform are making much needed and long-awaited changes.

Native Women’s Association of Canada to Attend Canada Premiers’ 2019 Summer Meeting in Saskatchewan

July 8, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) In an effort to further advance reconciliation among Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, senior executive members of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will meet with Canada’s Premiers on July 9 at Big River First Nation Saskatchewan to discuss priorities and considerations for Indigenous child welfare. NWAC is the only Indigenous women’s association present at the summer meeting of Canada’s Council of the Federation.

Since 1974, NWAC has represented the collective voices of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people of First Nation, on and off reserve, both status and non-status, disenfranchised, Metis and Inuit.

“Indigenous women are the foundation of Indigenous communities and families,” said NWAC Interim President Gail Paul. “Indigenous women are the carriers and transmitters of culture, traditions and languages and are the caretakers of the children, families and communities.”

In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that 28.7 per cent of Indigenous children aged zero to four who live with one parent in a lone parent census family, live with a female lone parent compared to 5.6 per cent of non-Indigenous children aged zero to four who live with a male lone parent. Indigenous women play a critically important role in the lives of their children.

“Canada’s Premiers must recognize that Indigenous women are the primary caregivers of Indigenous children and therefore, Indigenous women’s voices must be heard and respected when discussing services for Indigenous children,” urged NWAC CEO Lynne Groulx.

NWAC is calling upon Canada’s Premiers not only to engage and consult Indigenous women when creating and developing services for Indigenous children, but to make it mandatory that Indigenous women be present at all decision-making tables dealing with Indigenous children services.

The Council of the Federation was created in 2003 to promote provincial-territorial cooperation and closer ties between members, foster meaningful relations between governments based on respect for the Constitution and recognition of the diversity within the federation, and to show leadership on issues important to all Canadians.


Media Inquiries:

Steven Pink
Senior Director of Legal and Policy
[email protected]

NWAC Launches Phase 2 of Faceless Dolls Project on National Indigenous Peoples Day: ‘Putting a Face on Justice: From Calls for Justice to Action’

June 21, 2019

(Ottawa, ON): One thousand one hundred and eighty-one — that’s the number of Indigenous women and girls we know have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada. To raise awareness about this tragedy and to give a voice to the voiceless, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) launched the Faceless Doll Project in 2012. 

Seven years later, in concert with the release of the final report by the Government of Canada’s independent National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – and on National Indigenous Peoples Day – NWAC is launching Phase 2 of the Project. This time, giving faces to their faceless dolls. 

“Each statistic tells a story, and so to remind everyone not to let the individual lives lost become just another number, NWAC created the Faceless Doll Project. It was a visual and physical reminder of all the strong and beautiful Aboriginal women who have become faceless victims of crime. It also gave Aboriginal mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and friends an opportunity to honour those gone, comfort those left behind and educate those who are unaware of the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country,” says Lorraine Whitman, President of the Nova Scotia Chapter of NWAC. 

The Project was a resounding success, with Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people getting together at community engagement workshops held from coast to coast to coast to create their very own felt doll. The dolls became part of a travelling art exhibit. 

Phase 2 of the Project, called “Putting a Face on Justice: From Calls for Justice to Action,” involves encouraging youth in classrooms across the country to engage in activities designed to help them connect to their hearts, spirits and sense of self. NWAC’s Honouring Project bag contains a toolkit, guide, colouring book and pencils, coloured felt sheets, doll patterns and accessories to create dolls — all the materials necessary to give a face to the once faceless — a fitting tie-in to the release of the National Inquiry’s final report Reclaiming Power and Place but also a new beginning, says Ms. Whitman. 

To launch Phase 2, kits for creating their own dolls with faces were sent to every Member of Parliament serving in the House of Commons today. 

“The missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are no longer faceless. Their families have given them back their voice. It is now time for us, under the collective umbrella of NWAC, to put faces on our dolls — a visual symbol of healing and transformation, and a way to honour and acknowledge that the voices of our women and their families have been heard.” 


Media Inquiries:

Steven Pink
Senior Director of Legal and Policy
[email protected]

Un message en français suivra.

Le 21 juin 2019 

L’AFAC lance la phase 2 du projet des poupées sans visage pour la Journée nationale des peuples autochtones : « Donner un visage à la justice : des Appels à la justice à l’action » 

OTTAWA (Ontario) – Mille cent quatre-vingt-une, c’est le nombre de femmes et de filles autochtones dont on sait qu’elles sont disparues ou qu’elles ont été assassinées au Canada. Afin de sensibiliser la population à cette tragédie et de donner une voix à celles qui n’en ont pas, l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) avait lancé le projet des Poupées sans visage en 2012. 

Sept ans plus tard, de concert avec la publication du rapport final de l’Enquête nationale indépendante du gouvernement du Canada sur les femmes et les filles autochtones disparues et assassinées – et à l’occasion de la Journée nationale des peuples autochtones, l’AFAC lance la phase 2 du projet. Cette fois, en donnant un visage à leurs poupées sans visage. 

« Chaque statistique raconte une histoire et donc, pour rappeler à chacune et chacun de ne pas laisser des vies individuelles devenir un chiffre de plus, l’AFAC avait créé le projet des Poupées sans visage. C’était un moyen visuel et palpable de rappeler le souvenir de toutes les femmes autochtones belles et fortes qui sont devenues des victimes sans visage d’actes criminels. C’était également un moyen de donner aux mères, aux filles, aux tantes, aux grands-mères, aux sœurs autochtones et aux amies l’occasion d’honorer celles qui sont parties, de réconforter celles et ceux qui restent et de sensibiliser ceux et celles qui n’ont pas conscience du nombre disproportionné de femmes autochtones disparues et assassinées à l’échelle du pays », dit Lorraine Whitman, présidente de la section de la Nouvelle-Écosse de l’AFAC. 

Le projet a été une réussite retentissante auprès des femmes, des filles et des personnes de diverses identités de genre qui se sont rassemblées dans des ateliers de mobilisation communautaires, tenus d’un océan à l’autre et à l’autre, pour créer leurs propres poupées de feutre. Ces poupées ont été réunies pour former une exposition itinérante. 

La phase 2 du projet, appelée « Donner un visage à la justice : des Appels à la justice à l’action » implique d’encourager les jeunes dans les écoles à l’échelle du pays à participer à des activités conçues pour les aider à établir des liens entre leur cœur, leur esprit et leur sentiment d’identité. Le sac du projet d’honneur de l’AFAC contient une trousse d’outils, un guide, un cahier à colorier et des crayons de couleurs, des feuilles de feutre de différentes couleurs, des patrons de poupées et des accessoires pour créer des poupées – tout ce qu’il faut pour donner un visage à celles qui n’en avaient pas – un lien approprié à la publication du rapport final de l’Enquête nationale, Réclamer notre pouvoir et notre place, mais également un nouveau départ », dit Mme Whitman. 

Pour lancer la phase 2, des trousses ont été envoyées aujourd’hui à tous les députés fédéraux qui font actuellement partie de la Chambre des communes, pour qu’elles et ils puissent créer leurs propres poupées dotées d’un visage. 

« Les femmes et les filles autochtones disparues et assassinées ne sont plus sans visage. Leurs familles leur ont redonné leur voix. Le moment est venu pour nous, sous le parapluie collectif de l’AFAC, de donner des visages à nos poupées – un symbole visuel de guérison et de transformation et un moyen d’honorer nos femmes et leurs familles et de reconnaître que leurs voix ont été entendues. » 


Requêtes des médias :

Steven Pink
Senior Director of Legal and Policy
[email protected]


*** This content could be triggering as it contains information on MMIWG and child welfare***

Ottawa, ON — On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, the Manitoba Advocate for Children & Youth (MACY) released a report on the numerous systems designed to protect vulnerable youth in the city that failed Tina Fontaine leading up to her death. NWAC sends our support to Tina Fontaine’s family, loved ones and community during this difficult time.

This report demonstrates the desperate need for coordination amongst services. Communities and families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) have asked for these services for far too long.

Throughout the National Inquiry into MMIWG, NWAC heard the urgent need for timely, accessible, culturally-appropriate mental health services and supports, and the importance of reforming the child welfare system. This report also reflects the urgency of addressing these issues.  

We must move towards prevention, as opposed to reaction. We need readily available, accessible, culturally-appropriate mental health services and supports within our communities, and greater, more coordinated, responses for our urban youth as well.

NWAC calls for widespread recognition of the importance of customary and traditional care arrangements. The role of extended family in caring for children must be encouraged and respected in order to keep communities and families together.

NWAC commends the Manitoba Advocate for Children & Youth for this difficult, but essential report. We must continue to work tirelessly to end violence and create safety for Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people and their communities.


For more information please contact Lucy Juneau – Director of Communications
[email protected] | 343-997-3756


Ottawa, ON—Today, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan, and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef.

After the historic signing of the Canada-NWAC Accord, this is the second step in establishing a renewed relationship where NWAC is recognized as a full and equal participant.

Discussions included the implementation of the Canada-NWAC Accord and the importance of our participation in the development of all policies, programs, and legislation to ensure a culturally-relevant gender based lens is applied. NWAC’s leadership and expertise ensures the specific and necessary inclusion of Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people.

NWAC stressed the need for social and cultural innovation initiatives including funding for culturally appropriate healing and healthcare services. With the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls closing, there is an urgent need for healing. NWAC’s upcoming Resiliency Centre led the dialogue, as it will facilitate important healing, honouring and commemoration resources and activities in NWAC’s new building.

NWAC also advocated for the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Ongoing collaboration between NWAC and Canada on these key items is vital to advance a reconciliation process to decolonize, creating policies, programs, and legislation that enables self-determination, safety, and justice.

NWAC is optimistic this is the beginning of a productive dialogue, and an indication of Canada’s commitment to Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people.

After decades of discrimination the #WomenOfNWAC deserve nothing less than full equality and inclusion, followed by tangible action. #OurVoicesMatter


For more information please contact Lucy Juneau – Director of Communications.

[email protected] 343-997-3756


Ottawa, ON- The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met with delegates from the National Coordination of Indigenous Women in Columbia (CONAMIC) to discuss shared priorities and issues.

NWAC and CONAMIC found similarities among our Indigenous women including disproportionate rates of violence and human trafficking and difficulty reporting missing women or navigating the justice system.

NWAC emphasized the importance of international human rights mechanisms like the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in our advocacy work both domestically and internationally and highlighted the necessity of taking a culturally relevant gender-based approach to this work.

“It is not just about Indigenous rights, we need gender based rights as well,” said Lynne Groulx, NWAC’s Executive Director.

Sharing knowledge and building solidarity among Indigenous women globally is a key tenant of NWAC’s international advocacy. NWAC and CONAMIC will work to form an alliance together to collaborate on shared issues, policy priorities, and the political empowerment of Indigenous women.

“We are forming a sisterhood of support between Indigenous women globally,” said Groulx.


For more information please contact Lucy Juneau – Director of Communications 343-997-3756 – [email protected]

Native Women’s Association of Canada Signs Accord

With the common goals of establishing a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship between Indigenous Nations and Canada, the Government of Canada and the Native Women’s Association signed an Accord on February 1, 2019. The Accord will recognize NWAC as a full participant in decision-making processes at the national and international levels.

This Accord means Canada will work with NWAC to establish a reconciliation building process to decolonize, which includes meetings with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers responsible for policy development and key federal Cabinet Ministers.

For too long, the voices of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people have been silenced. Through this Accord, their perspectives and political voices will be heard and will assist the development and design process of programs, services, policies and laws.

Since 1974, NWAC has advocated for women, girls, gender diverse people and families of many Indigenous Nations, fighting for an inclusive world that understands and respects their diversity and uniqueness.

This historic Accord will allow NWAC and Canada to collaboratively address policy priorities including health and well-being (with particular attention to mental health), economic empowerment, youth well-being and leadership, environmental protection, housing, education, overrepresentation of Indigenous women in prisons, and international relationships, all of which directly affect the lives and rights of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people.

NWAC and Canada agreed it is a shared priority to empower Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, as leaders, in the design and the co-development of laws, programs services, operational practices and policies.

This Accord is a significant step towards healing and reconciliation. It’s time to end the legacy of colonialism, colonial attitudes, and gender-based violence wherever they remain in all Federal legislation, institutions, policies and operational practices.


For more information please contact Lucy Juneau – Director of Communications [email protected] 343-997-375



(Ottawa, ON) NWAC is excited to announce the creation of a new LGBTQ2S+ Unit dedicated to expanding and enhancing its advocacy efforts for Two-Spirit, LGBTQ+, and gender-diverse Indigenous people.

As a group that exists at the intersections of queer and/or transphobia as well as colonial racism, members of the Indigenous LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit communities are disproportionately impacted by violence. Marginalization dramatically decreases the availability and the accessibility of supports and services, meaning Indigenous people who live within these marginalized groups face additional obstacles to accessing basic services.

For these reasons, NWAC is working purposefully towards filling the remaining gaps in our services and advocacy in order to better reflect the strength and diversity of our communities. Part of these efforts led to the creation of a LGBTQ2S+ Unit, focusing on education, outreach, and policy development.

NWAC’s LGBTQ2S+ Unit is committed to repairing and strengthening relationships with community members and organizations already engaged with this work. To begin this process, we have created two new positions in education and policy. If you have any questions, concerns, or want to share your thoughts on the new Unit’s direction, please feel free to contact:

RJ Jones – LGBTQ2S+ Educator – [email protected] – (343) 997-7626

Kim Wakeford – LGBTQ2S+ Policy Advisor – [email protected] – (613) 410-1501

The Unit is launching a survey to gather anonymous preliminary information on specific needs and barriers faced by Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Indigenous women and non-binary people. This information will guide the Unit’s future activities and shape policy, education, and language priorities.

Access the survey here:

If you or someone you know would like to fill out the survey, but do not have regular access to the Internet, please let us know and we will mail you a hard copy.



OTTAWA (Ontario) – L’AFAC est fière d’annoncer la création d’un nouveau service LGBTQ2E+ voué au développement et à la mise en valeur de ses efforts de plaidoyer en faveur des personnes autochtones Deux-Esprits, LGBTQ+ et de diverses identités de genre.

En tant que groupe qui existe aux intersections entre la notion de « queer » (que l’on traduit par « altersexualité » et « allosexualité »), la transphobie et le racisme colonial, les membres autochtones des communautés LGBTQ+ et Deux-Esprits sont touchées de façon disproportionnée par la violence. La marginalisation réduit énormément la disponibilité et l’accessibilité de soutiens et de services; les Autochtones qui vivent au sein de ces groupes marginalisés sont confrontées à des obstacles additionnels lorsqu’il s’agit d’accéder à des services de base.

Pour ces raisons, l’AFAC travaille résolument à combler les écarts qui restent dans nos services et nos actions de plaidoyer afin de mieux refléter les forces et la diversité de nos communautés. Ces efforts ont mené notamment à la création d’un service LGBTQ2E+, axé sur l’éducation, le rayonnement et l’élaboration de politiques.

Le service LGBTQ2E+ de l’AFAC est déterminé à rétablir et renforcer les relations avec les membres des communautés et les organisations déjà engagées dans ce travail. Pour lancer le processus, nous avons créé deux nouveaux postes en matière d’éducation et de politiques. Si vous avez des questions ou des préoccupations ou si vous voulez faire savoir à la direction du nouveau service ce que vous en pensez, n’hésitez pas à communiquer avec :

Le service LGBTQ2E+ lance un sondage pour recueillir de l’information préliminaire anonyme sur les besoins des personnes autochtones Deux-Esprits, LGBTQ+ et non binaires. Cette information guidera les activités du service à l’avenir et modèlera ses priorités en matière de politiques, d’éducation et de langues.

Pour accéder au sondage en ligne :

Si vous voulez répondre au sondage, mais n’avez pas toujours accès à l’Internet, faites-nous le savoir et nous vous enverrons le sondage sur papier par la poste; la même chose s’applique à toute autre personne de votre connaissance qui serait dans cette situation.



L’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) a célébré sa 44e assemblée générale annuelle en fin de semaine avec son conseil d’administration et des déléguées de tout le pays, qui ont adopté le règlement administratif no 14 avec un soutien remarquable. Pour célébrer une année de réalisations historiques, l’événement de trois jours a commencé par un gala, suivi de la discussion de questions de grande importance pour les femmes, les filles et les personnes de diverses identités de genre autochtones de partout au pays.

Au gala, la ministre Carolyn Bennett des Relations Couronne-Autochtones a prononcé le discours thème en soulignant l’importance de la guérison et de la résilience.

La ministre des Relations Couronne-Autochtones, Carolyn Bennett, livrant le discours thème de la 44e assemblée générale annuelle de l’AFAC.

Étaient également présents la sous-ministre adjointe d’Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada, Jane Taylor, et un commissaire de l’Enquête nationale sur les femmes et les filles autochtones disparues et assassinées, Brian Eyolfson.

« Nous entreprenons notre 45e année avec la direction claire et précise de poursuivre la réalisation de notre mandat, c’est-à-dire l’autonomisation des femmes, des filles et des personnes de diverses identités de genre citoyennes des Premières Nations, inuites et métisses », a déclaré la présidente de l’AFAC, Francyne Joe.

Les déléguées ont adopté des résolutions en matière de politiques pour diriger l’AFAC dans sa 45e année en accord avec le Plan stratégique 2018-2021 du conseil d’administration. L’organisation se concentrera notamment sur la guérison et la résilience, l’inclusivité des personnes LGBTQ+ et bispirituelles/Deux-Esprits, ainsi que sur les questions environnementales.

C’est avec enthousiasme que nous envisageons une autre année remplie de réalisations historiques, y compris la grande ouverture du nouvel immeuble de l’AFAC au début de 2019. Cet immeuble imprégné de culture est un centre d’innovation sociale et culturelle consacré à des activités génératrices de revenus pour l’organisation à but non lucratif. L’immeuble comprendra, entre autres, des locaux d’ateliers pour des projets continus d’appropriation culturelle fondés sur la notion de genre pour les femmes, les filles et les personnes de diverses identités de genre autochtones, ainsi que de la formation à l’intention du secteur public et du secteur privé.

Pour en apprendre davantage au sujet de l’année qui vient à l’AFAC, consultez notre site Web ou communiquez directement avec nous.

POUR OBTENIR PLUS D’INFORMATION : Lucy Juneau, directrice des Communications

343-997-3756 [email protected]

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Apply now for the Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award !!

The Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award is prized at $1,000 and awarded to four (4) Indigenous women, Two Spirit or gender diverse students in Canada who are pursuing a post-secondary education. Students must be studying in law or justice field.

Eligibility Requirements:
 You must be pursuing a post-secondary education in a law or justice related field;
 Award is intended for Indigenous women, Two Spirit and gender diverse individuals;
 You must demonstrate a financial need; and,
 Students must demonstrate a commitment to improving the well-being of Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people in Canada politically, culturally, economically or otherwise.

Blog 2 S-3: Making Sense of “6(1)(a) All the Way”


Can you imagine being only “half” Canadian? Imagine your father is Canadian, but your mother had emigrated from another country. Upon birth, you are assigned half of a Canadian citizenship. Your children’s potential Canadian citizenship hangs in the balance, dependent entirely on the person with whom you choose to parent.

Does this even make sense?

Would you be surprised to learn that Indigenous peoples in Canada have faced similar barriers in passing status onto their children? Would you be disheartened to find out that it is predominantly women who have been given “lesser” status because of a hierarchy imposed in 1985 which grants 6(1)(a) status to Indian men, yet a less conferrable 6(1)(c) status to women?

What this means in practice is what is referred to as the second generation cut-off rule: after two generations of a status parent having children with a non-status parent, their descendants lose status. The first generation enjoys 6(1) status, while the following generation is bumped down to 6(2) and finally, the third generation is bumped out entirely.

Bill S-3, while initially working to remove all sex-based inequities within the Indian Act, completely overlooks this unfortunate differentiation.

The “6(1)(a) All the Way” amendment remedies a complex, overwhelming and confusing distinction that has plagued Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women, for far too long. Essentially, the amendment looks to extend 6(1) status to all individuals who can trace their ancestry to at least one person who is or would ever have been entitled to be a registered Indian before 1985. The Senate put forth Bill S-3 in May 2017 with this amendment, but Minister Bennett stripped it shortly after.

The amendment is not a new idea; the Liberals proposed it in Opposition in 2010. When the former Conservative government committed to a second round of consultations in amending the Indian Act by way of Bill C-3 in light of Sharon McIvor’s case, Liberal MP Todd Russell proposed the amendment to rectify issues caused by the 1951 cut-off date. It was quickly ruled inadmissible by the Speaker of the House as “being beyond the scope of Bill C-3”.

Once again, the government chose to write the bill in a way that responded solely to the ruling in McIvor’s case, pushing the problem onto a future to-do list, as even Russell stated that “hopefully in the future we will be able to deal with these matters.” That time is now.

NWAC is engaging in national consultations to get your input on Bill S-3 and to tell our government to remove all discrimination from the Indian Act right now. Let’s end the tired tradition of telling indigenous peoples “tomorrow” without actually following through.