EMPOWERING MEMBERS THROUGH EDUCATION
Legislation Summary Impacting First Nation Peoples
Provided by Denise L. Watso
September 2nd, 2015
Indian Act (1876)
The Indian Act passed by the Government of Canada in 1876. It imposed government control over all Natives. It focused on 3 main areas: band councils, reserves, and status (membership). Its primary purpose was (and is) to control and assimilate Indian people into Canada. It was always intended as a temporary set of laws until Native peoples were successfully assimilated.
Bill C-31 (1985) – Lavell vs. Canada
In 1985, Bill C-31 amended the Indian Act to provide equal treatment of male and female Indians to register as a status Indian. Bill C-31 was directed at removing discrimination against women in the Indian Act registration provisions. Since then, all registered Indians have been subject to the “second generation cut-off rule” which occurs as a result of two successive generations of parenting with non-Indians of either sex. However, the Act’s gender discrimination was not fully remedied by Bill C-31.
Corbiere Act (1999)
The Indian Act voting regulations were amended to comply with the Supreme Court of Canada decision. The Court ruled words, found in section 77 (1) of the Indian Act, "and is ordinarily resident on the reserve," violated the Charter rights of off-reserve members of First Nations that hold their elections under the Indian Act. This decision, provide for First Nations holding elections or referendums under the Indian Act to permit members, living off reserve, to vote.
Esquega vs. Canada (2008)
In 2007, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in Esquega v. Canada that the residency provision for councilor candidates in the Indian Act violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since August 2008, there have been no residency restrictions on councilor candidates.
Bill C-21 (2008) - An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. Repeal of Section 67
Bill C-21 repeals section 67 of the federal human rights statute, does not allow anyone to file a complaint against government or First nations i.e. “any provision of the Indian Act or any provision made under or pursuant to that Act.
- Section 67 restricts the ability of people living or working in communities operating under the Indian Act to file complaints of discrimination if the discrimination they are complaining about is related to the Indian Act. It is the only provision in Canadian human rights law that restricts access of a particular group of persons (people living or working in First Nations communities) to the human rights process.
- The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on eleven grounds. To ensure effective protection against discrimination, the Act provides for a system for the investigation and resolution of allegations of discrimination. A person who believes they have been discriminated against can file a complaint against any employer or service provider under federal jurisdiction including federal departments and agencies. This includes complaints regarding provisions of federal legislation and regulation.
With the introduction of Bill C-3, Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act it will mean that eligible grandchildren of women who lost status (Bill C-31) as a result of marrying non-Indian men will become entitled to registration (Indian Status) in accordance with the Indian Act.