Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act

An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Chuck Strahl  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides a new entitlement to Indian registration in response to the decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs) that was issued by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia on April 6, 2009.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 18th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
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Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me make an undertaking to my colleague, the House leader of the official opposition, to make enquiries into that and respond to him in short order.

The House will continue today with the opposition motion.

Tomorrow we will continue debate, and I know the NDP will be excited about this, on Bill C-10, Senate term limits; Bill C-19, regarding political loans; followed by Bill S-3, tax conventions implementation.

On Monday and Tuesday of next week, we will call Bill S-3, tax conventions implementation; Bill C-3, gender equity in Indian registration; Bill C-28, fighting Internet and wireless spam; Bill C-22, protecting children; Bill C-29, safeguarding personal information; and Bill C-30, response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Shoker.

On Wednesday and Friday we will call Bill C-41, strengthening military justice; and Bill C-43, RCMP labour modernization.

Thursday will be an allotted day. I believe this allotted day will go to the Bloc Québécois.

With respect to a take note debate, there have been discussions amongst the parties. There have not been a lot of take note debates. Two weeks ago we had one on veterans issues. I believe next week we will be having one on the issue of pensions, which I know is a concern for all of us, but particularly this was brought forward by the House leader for the official opposition. I believe we are looking at Tuesday night for that.

I appreciate the co-operation we have had from all parties. This gives members an opportunity to bring issues relevant to their constituents forward in the House.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 4th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
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Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating the NDP opposition motion.

Pursuant to any order adopted by the House earlier today, the vote on that opposition motion will take place on Tuesday, November 16 at the end of government orders.

Tomorrow the House will have the occasion to debate at second reading Bill C-32, Copyright Modernization Act, and the backup bill, should debate conclude at second reading, will be Bill S-9, Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act, which I know is a key priority of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Next week, as the member opposite said, is a constituency week. I encourage all members to remember and recognize the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, on November 11.

When we return on Monday, November 15, we will call a number of bills, including Bill C-3, Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act, Bill C-31, Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act, Bill C-35, Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, Bill C-20, An Action Plan for the National Capital Commission, Bill C-28, Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, Bill C-22, Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act and Bill C-48, Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act. We would also consider calling other bills that may have returned from committee by the time we return.

Thursday, November 18, shall be the next allotted day.

In closing, I wish all members a productive constituency week.

Gender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2010 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs).

The Bloc Québécois had indicated its support for studying Bill C-3 in committee. Since the bill would allow people who suffered discrimination because of Bill C-31 passed in 1985 to reconnect with their origins, we felt it deserved further study. As I just mentioned, Bill C-3 would repair the injustices created by Bill C-31 some 25 years ago. In other words, the federal government waited a quarter of a century to repair the injustices it had created itself. Even then, it had to be forced by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia ruling in the McIvor case. Thus we cannot talk about Bill C-3 without recalling how this aboriginal mother had to fight to have her rights and those of her children recognized. Sharon McIvor kept up her fight for many long years. Without her and her struggle, we would not be discussing this bill here today in the House.

To understand the implications of Bill C-3, we need to turn back the clock just a bit. Injustices against aboriginal women are nothing new. In 1876, the Indian Act stipulated that an aboriginal woman lost her rights and stopped being an Indian under the act if she married a non-aboriginal man. Obviously, an aboriginal man who married a non-aboriginal woman did not lose his Indian status. Aboriginal women have experienced a great deal of discrimination with regard to their race, gender and marital status. The Indian Act has contributed to marginalizing women and diminishing their social and political role in the communities. Since this legislation has a direct impact on lineage, the children of these women have also been discriminated against.

In 1951, the Indian Act was amended, but again, a woman who married a non-Indian could not be registered in the new federal register of status Indians and therefore could not enjoy the rights that such status entailed. In 1985, following changes to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Bill C-31 was introduced to close the loophole in the Indian Act, but women's children still did not have the same rights as men's children.

Those who are paying close attention will have noticed that more than 100 years after the Indian Act was created, the rights of aboriginal women's children were still not guaranteed. It would take another 25 years for the federal government to introduce a bill to recognize the Indian status of people who had been discriminated against in the past. Were it not for Ms. McIvor's legal journey, the government might never have introduced Bill C-3, which we are discussing today, as a response to this discrimination. Many will say that this bill does not go far enough.

One such person is Michèle Taina Audette, another mother and a representative of the AMUN March, whose battle continues. I will read an excerpt from her testimony at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development:

In my opinion, Bill C-3...merely complies with the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision in McIvor v. Canada...[and] the department is using this bill to do as little as possible about the problem...there may be serious problems as a result in the short, medium and long terms...Let us put an end, once and for all, to the discrimination that has existed for too long a time already...Aboriginal women continue to be victims of discrimination based on gender....

Bill C-3 would recognize the Indian status of people who have so far not been recognized as Indian and could therefore not benefit from the rights enjoyed by status Indians, such as the right to live on a reserve and to vote in band council elections.

Bill C-3, which was introduced thanks to Sharon McIvor's efforts, corrects these injustices, but it does not go far enough, because it allows certain other injustices to persist. That is why the Bloc Québécois proposed several amendments, all of which were deemed inadmissible.

People will have no trouble understanding that the Bloc Québécois believes strongly in nation-to-nation negotiation. That is why we have always consulted with our aboriginal partners in Quebec when preparing to vote on bills that affect them.

This time is no exception. The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and Quebec Native Women were among those who felt that Bill C-3 failed to correct certain injustices, so that is why we initially decided to vote against the bill.

Sleeping on issues like this helps, and so does thinking about it over the summer. This summer, members of various Quebec aboriginal groups and associations discussed this matter at length. They decided that it would be better to accept the federal government's offer, so they asked us to apply a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” philosophy. The Bloc Québécois will therefore vote in favour of Bill C-3. I think this is a good time to share the words of Ellen Gabriel. Here is what she told the committee:

...for membership, you have to be a status Indian. That doesn't necessarily mean that if you have status, you have membership. That's been the problem for a lot of indigenous women who regained their status in 1985 but who are not allowed to live in their communities, to be buried in their communities, or to own land that their parents give to them... If this bill is going to be passed...then we need some guarantees that band councils will also respect it.

Ellen Gabriel is the president of Quebec Native Women.

I must stress that the federal government promised to establish an exploratory process. It committed to working with aboriginal organizations to establish an “inclusive process for the purpose of information gathering and the identification of the broader issues for discussion surrounding Indian registration, band membership and First Nations citizenship.” The government's intention is not very clear, and neither are the objectives of this exercise. Will it be a proper consultation, for the purpose of amending the Indian Act to bring it into line with the expectations of aboriginals? Will the issue of registration, band membership and citizenship be resolved? This exploratory process will take place before the implementation of Bill C-21, which would repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and which would apply to reserves as of June 2011. So it is important to use these consultations to identify the problems with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to the Indian register.

Another problem with the enforcement of Bill C-3 is that the federal government did not do its homework and has not estimated the cost of adding people to the Indian register. The Bloc Québécois does think that we should register new Indians, but not at the expense of those who are already registered. In other words, the federal government will have to increase funding for first nations to ensure that the needs of new registered Indians are met, while still meeting the needs of those who are already registered.

In conclusion, I want to remind all members in this House that they have a duty to ensure justice and fairness for aboriginal women and their children, and I urge members to support Bill C-3. I would also like to remind the federal government that, although it stated its intention in the latest throne speech, it has still not endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is shameful.

The House resumed from May 25 consideration of Bill C-3, An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs), as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

October 21st, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
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Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I did want to stand in my place and correct the record.

Earlier today, in answering a question, I neglected to mention the good work of the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification as a woman serving in this cabinet. As well, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the hon. Marjory LeBreton, makes a very powerful and substantial contribution to this government.

I am also pleased to report that the four House leaders are working well together. We have got off to a very good start.

Today is an opposition day for the Bloc Québécois and we will continue to debate on that for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow, we will resume debate on second reading of Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; followed by Bill S-9, the tackling auto theft and property crime legislation.

On Monday and Tuesday we will begin with Bill S-9, on tackling auto theft and property crime; followed by Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; report stage of Bill C-3, gender equity in Indian registration; Bill C-42, strengthening aviation security; Bill C-29, safeguarding Canadians' personal information; Bill C-30, on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R v. Shoker; Bill C-41, strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada; and Bill S-2, protecting victims from sex offenders.

On Wednesday we will begin debate on Bill C-49, the preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system act. If debate on Bill C-49 concludes, we will continue with the business that I outlined on Monday and Tuesday.

The House leader for the official opposition also requested to know about the second budget bill, for the fall. We have begun debate on that. We have already adopted the ways and means motion, but we certainly will be calling it again before the November Remembrance Day break week for constituents. That is obviously an important piece of legislation that we look forward to having the opportunity to debate in this place.

I also neglected to mention the hard work of another member of the priorities and planning committee, the hon. Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

October 19th, 2010 / 10:45 a.m.
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Chief Guy Lonechild Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Good morning to all members and of course a special recognition for MP Kelly Block from Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar. Good morning.

She got us here. She invited us. So thank you very much.

I'm joined by Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier. My name is Chief Guy Lonechild, from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. As chief of the FSIN I represent 74 first nations in Saskatchewan. Our organization is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the treaties. This means promoting, protecting, and implementing our rights under treaty.

It has been almost a decade since the FSIN last presented to this committee during a pre-budget submission consultation. The last time was October 30, 2001. Unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed from ten years ago. Although some gains have been made, the disparity between first nations and other Canadians remains virtually unchanged in many areas. I'm going to highlight only the most important priority areas where all levels of government should focus their resources to effect positive change.

First nations education is a prerequisite to all other issues on the agenda. It is key to improving the overall economic and social wellbeing of first nations. However, a majority of first nations people in Saskatchewan are failing to utilize education as a foundation for building better lives for themselves, their families, and communities.

Only about one-half of the aboriginal adult population in Saskatchewan has a high school diploma, at 51% compared to 72% of the non-aboriginal population in the province. The situation is worse on reserve, where only 46% of residents have graduated from high school.

Saskatchewan first nations have outstanding capacity for delivering improved education services to first nations. There's no other region in Canada that can clearly demonstrate a more comprehensive educational infrastructure, which has been built over the last 30 years of experience and capacity. The FSIN is committed to addressing the issues preventing first nations living on and off reserve in Saskatchewan from achieving a level of education comparable to the rest of Canadians.

What is required for us to tackle these longstanding issues is a new partnership with the federal and provincial governments in the area of education. What happens in Saskatchewan can be a model for the rest of Canada.

The federal government is cognizant of the need to collaborate on education. In the 2010 Speech from the Throne, a commitment was made by the federal government to work hand in hand with aboriginal communities and provinces and territories to reform and strengthen education, and to support student success and provide greater hope and opportunity. I expect a similar commitment from the throne this year, accompanied by financial support.

Currently the FSIN is advancing two important initiatives targeted at significantly improving the substance and quantity of the first nations educational attainment. These include a trilateral task force and a youth action plan with the FSIN as an equal partner in the development, design, and delivery of first nations education in Saskatchewan. It will address major issues such as comparable funding and incorporating language and curriculum into the education system, both on and off reserve.

As mentioned in our written brief, we urge you to provide support for first nations education by providing capacity funding for the urgent work of the education task force and providing a level of funding for first nations schools comparable to that of the province.

Although we couldn't go into detail in this verbal briefing, we also need support for an aboriginal youth employment strategy in Saskatchewan and additional financial support for the restructuring of First Nations University of Canada. Increasing funding for the post-secondary student support program is also necessary.

On March 3, 2010, the Minister of Indian Affairs introduced Bill C-3, an act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada. Bill C-3 proposes to make the grandchildren of women who lost status as a result of marrying non-Indian men eligible for registration for Indian status in accordance with the Indian Act. The proposed amendments do not extend to other situations. Approximately 40,000 people nationwide would become eligible. Additional funding will need to be provided to first nations for this increase to the population, as this will affect housing, health, education, and social assistance for first nations.

In July 2009 the FSIN created the chiefs' task force on citizenship to develop a first nations citizenship framework to support the first nations legislating their own citizenship act. The treaty governance office and the chiefs' task force on citizenship developed a proposal to which INAC has not yet responded. The work of the task force must continue, so we are asking for support on this.

Finally, INAC is not consulting on Bill C-3, promising only to provide an engagement process after Bill C-3 is passed.

Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier insists that first nations have a right to self-government. A fundamental part of this is determining the criteria of their own citizens. INAC has established a financial impacts working group to analyze and make recommendations on how to address the financial requirements and the impact of additional registrations on first nations and the department.

We have not had full disclosure from this committee. We will file an access to information request to get full disclosure. Canada and INAC should not be setting our Indian governments up for failure. On a matter of citizenship, the first nations' agenda is far ahead of INAC's, which is simply to plug one more small hole in a sinking ship called the Indian Act.

September 29th, 2010 / 4:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

I don't have much more to add, but I would like to explain something to the parliamentary secretary. Our committee has delegated the responsibility of establishing the procedure and the agenda to the subcommittee ever since it was created. When we come back before the committee, the agenda is presented. The committee as a whole may decide to review the agenda. Not all committees operate in the same way, but the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development decided that the large 12-member committee should not sit all the time and that the subcommittee would be responsible for pruning down the daily routine and preparing the meetings in order to save time.

For example, if we adopt—we have since adopted it—Mr. Lévesque's motion, the subcommittee will set the number of meetings and make a recommendation. It will probably also ask the members of the committee if they want to call witnesses and to let the subcommittee know as soon as possible. It would be the same procedure for all the other motions. With all due respect, that is why I find the parliamentary secretary's motion premature. So I encourage her to withdraw it, even if we discuss it in subcommittee. Otherwise, we would certainly not be able to support the motion if we had to vote. It would be a shame to start our work with the parliamentary secretary by defeating her motion. I urge her to withdraw this motion and present it to the subcommittee, which will be sitting in a few minutes.

To conclude, Mr. Chair, I would like to point out that it has been like this since 2006. The subcommittee is made up of representatives from each political party.The subcommittee decided that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development would be present to provide us with information that will allow us to move our work forward. Initially, there was only the chair of the committee, the two vice chairs and a representative—in this committee's case—from the Bloc Québécois. We wanted to be more open and allow the parliamentary secretary to be present without the right to vote in order to get information and get things done faster.

Let's take Bill C-3 for example. We ask the parliamentary secretary to check with the minister when he'll be available to appear before us and so on. That way, we save a lot of time. For us, the subcommittee is like a working committee that reports to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. It saves us a huge amount of time.

September 27th, 2010 / 12:35 p.m.
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Representative, B.C. CEDAW Group

Shelagh Day

Thank you very much.

Maybe I could add just one very brief comment about Bill C-3. As it stands at the moment, Bill C-3 still leaves out many hundreds--and perhaps thousands--of aboriginal women and their descendants, purely because of the sex discrimination in the Indian Act that for decades has preferred the male line of descent over the matrilineal line of descent.

So it is a very strong appeal to you to fix this problem once and for all and actually include the Indian women and their descendants who have been discriminated against. I thank you for raising the question, because it's extraordinarily important, and Canada has the chance now to get this one right. It would be wonderful if Parliament would do that.

September 27th, 2010 / 12:35 p.m.
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Spokesperson, B.C. CEDAW Group

Laura Holland

I'm going to ask Shelagh to talk about the law specifically, but what I can tell you is about the lived experience and the effects it has on aboriginal women. Real matrimonial property rights are something aboriginal women have been dealing with for decades, if not centuries. To put it realistically, the issue has always been a problem.

It's almost impossible for a woman to leave an abusive or violent relationship or to leave a man who is violent or sexually violent towards her children. When she does leave, she is leaving a reserve and going to another reserve or a town or a city to live in poverty, and then the whole cycle of women living in poverty starts all over again. We think this is something that needs to be remedied, and it needs to be taken care of right away.

Bill C-3is Sharon McIvor's bill. I can tell you how it affects my life today. One of my grandparents was what we call disenfranchised in 1947 so he could actually go to work and have a paying job off reserve. He said he wasn't an animal and he didn't deserve to be penned up like one. He wanted to be able to travel and vote, so he was disenfranchised and he lost his Indian status.

I got mine back in 1986 under Bill C-31, as did my daughters. But my sons' father is white. My sons have the life experience of aboriginal men. They have the life experience of aboriginal men who have lived in poverty most of their lives, and they do not have status and have no chance of getting status the way it is right now, even with the way Bill C-3 stands today. It's still discriminatory against my children and me.

June 11th, 2010 / 10:25 a.m.
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Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

Grand Chief Anne Archambault

Thank your for your question, Ms. Demers.

You referred to the silence that prevails with respect to violence against women. But the Aboriginal Women's Association was created several years ago. Mary Two-Axe Early, who lobbied in favour of Bill C-31, did a lot of advocacy work towards combating violence against women and poverty quite a few years ago. Naturally, a lot of Quebec and Canadian media seize on these issues. But there are few Aboriginal journalists. For a number of years now, we have been denouncing violence and women's poverty. Mary Two-Axe Early and Evelyn O'Bomsawin, the two founders of the Quebec Aboriginal Women's Association were engaged in that work. In fact, they took me by the hand and showed me how to continue the struggle.

In public, people say that Indians drink and take drugs. We are speaking out against this in whatever way we can, but our demands seem to fall on death ears.

As regards the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, my view is that this document is written in simple terms and tells the truth about Aboriginal peoples, particularly the article dealing with women and children. From the very beginning, we have been victims of discrimination. We are also victimized by the poverty imposed on us. We are trying to extricate ourselves from this cycle of victimization, but we have neither the means nor the budget to do so. Using the little we have to work with, we are trying to make our voices heard.

Yesterday we met with parliamentarians, including one senator. We are at the point now where we are prepared to do anything and everything. Our quest is one that began a long time ago. Many women have been living through this for many years. There was Bill C-31, and then there was Bill C-3, some of which is discriminatory, and there are also a number of other articles in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

June 11th, 2010 / 9:45 a.m.
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Renée Brassard Assistant professor, School of Social Work, Université Laval, As an Individual

Good morning, my name is Renée Brassard. I teach at the School of Social Work, but I am a criminologist by training.

Today my comments will be quite brief, because some of the points I intended to address have already been made by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. I have jotted down a few comments and will limit myself to those. I have also tabled a summary of recommendations with the committee and you will see what I had in mind in so doing.

It is a well-known fact that violence against Aboriginal women in both Canada and Quebec is one of the direct consequences of colonialism and a history punctuated by government policies that have resulted in cultural erosion, the ongoing breakdown of family and other relationships, and poverty and underdevelopment which persists to this day.

I would like to draw the attention of committee members to the fact that, over the last two decades, several Canadian commissions of inquiry, expert reports and studies have all reiterated the fact that Aboriginal women constitute the segment of the population most affected by violence in Canada. It is also acknowledged that violence against Aboriginal women is an endemic problem. So, this is not something that is receding. Quite the contrary, it is a persistent problem which is growing worse.

That violence can take several different forms, as you so aptly pointed out, Madam Chair. The forms of violence faced by Aboriginal women are many: physical, sexual, psychological, systemic, institutional, legislative—as we see at present with the discussions on Bill C-3—communal, and also spiritual. By “communal” violence, I mean abuse of authority against Aboriginal women in communities all across Canada, whereas spiritual violence refers to the loss of traditional values and the destruction of individual cultural or religious beliefs.

The current state of knowledge regarding violence against Aboriginal women in Canada is such that we now know that different factors that are still in play conspire to keep Aboriginal women in Canada in these sad circumstances and allow the violence that afflicts them to be perpetuated. What I wanted to specifically address are the main factors which encourage or allow the violent situations facing Aboriginal women in Canada to occur and recur. Of these factors, I would like to mention these in particular: a lack of political will at the federal, provincial and local levels; the lack of autonomy of Aboriginal communities in terms of directing their own development; a system of economic and legislative dependency which keeps the Aboriginal communities in a state of underdevelopment and gives rise to social inequality and multiple forms of discrimination; limited access to power by Aboriginal women; the presence—obviously—of a vicious cycle of violence because of the relational proximity within the communities, complete silence on this issue and an attitude of resignation in relation to the violence; and, finally, inadequate social responses, which have been recognized over and over again in a variety of reports as being ineffective and culturally inappropriate.

When I refer to social responses to violence against Aboriginal women, I am obviously referring to piecemeal interventions, a lack of resources for Aboriginal men—we tend to prefer incarcerating Aboriginal men, rather than helping them to heal and be rehabilitated—and, Madam Chair, the criminalization and overrepresentation of Aboriginals in our prison institutions. I'm sure you also know that Canada is one of the countries that jails more Aboriginal people than any other country in the world, compared to societies such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

If we want to stop violence against Aboriginal women in Canada, it is necessary to acknowledge the valuable potential solutions and recommendations that can be found in the major studies carried out in Canada in the last two decades, and which are underused even now. The report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, which does suggest potential solutions, should also be revisited.

Furthermore, I think it is important to point out that this work, which was often carried out under the auspices of several Aboriginal organizations in Canada, has the merit of having given a voice to many Aboriginal women, as well as many different Aboriginal groups in Canada with respect to violence against women, children, men and a whole people. As a means of guiding the committee's work, I have gathered together here a number of recommendations which warrant your attention.

In closing, in light of these facts, we urge the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women to take full advantage of whatever flexibility it has to ensure that these recommendations are actually implemented, in order to foster the well-being of women, men and all Aboriginal communities in Canada.

Thank you.

June 10th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
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President, Quebec Native Women Inc.

Ellen Gabriel

I was going to throw it in there. One of the challenges we face with regard to matrimonial real property is that there is a housing shortage in the community, so it's difficult to start a business. The other thing is that a judge will have to look at matrimonial real property and know the Indian Act. How many civil court judges know the Indian Act? If they don't know it, how is the community supposed to filter through this?

The other issue is that in remote communities, those women do not have access to legal aid, as we do closer to cities like Montreal or Quebec City. So there's a vacuum with regard to their access to justice. The bill does not address that particular section and that reality of aboriginal women.

There was a lack of adequate consultation. We had a month and a half to consult. I think most Canadians, if there are going to be legislative changes in Canada, are granted a year. There was a 500-page report from Wendy Grant-John, who was the minister's appointed representative. There were hardly any, if any, recommendations from that report: 500 pages and nothing in it talks about what the communities were saying.

I think the problem we have among ourselves is a lot of our communities don't even know what MRP is. They don't know the details involved in MRP. From what I've heard, they're asking for the rejection of this MRP bill, which we don't want to happen. We want the MRP bill to pass with amendments, just as we want Bill C-3 to pass with amendments, but the government is not listening. They're not accommodating our concerns.

Consultation...it's not just about our opinions. It's about accommodating our concerns. It's about a dialogue. It's about a partnership. That has not happened in any of the engagement sessions I have been involved in, nor the brief consultations there were on MRP.

For fee simple, yes, we have certificates of possession. Yes, we have these tiny pieces of land that are reserved for our benefit and use. I think what has not been discussed for our communities is that we want to be able to have the same kinds of economic opportunities that other people have. If we're to put up our land as collateral and we lose that land, it's taking what little we do have from our communities.

I know Mr. Jules is travelling right across Canada. For me, it's just another form of the white paper policy that was rejected in the 1970s. It's not adequate. You can't take what happens in the rest of Canada and put it in our communities. It doesn't work.

We want to have protection for our land, for future generations and for the present generation. Fee simple is not the best idea, I think, to help economic development. We need access to our land, to our resources. We need to sit down and dialogue with government. We should not have this “talk down” or “talking at”.

The government deals with the issues of aboriginal people in a very archaic, paternalistic way. It's 2010, for goodness' sake. We know all about your culture, but it's as if our culture is irrelevant: “It's going to be put in a museum, so you should be happy. That's how we're going to protect your culture.” It just doesn't work.

Thank you.

May 27th, 2010 / 4:55 p.m.
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Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

On the first one, my understanding would be the Powley program the minister referred to sunsetted so we couldn't get it in the main estimates. It was renewed. Cabinet took the decision. It was approved by Treasury Board and it has shown up in supplementary estimates. That is typically what happens with sunsetters. It's not always helpful to Parliament to understand the flow of that, but that's what's happened on that one.

On Bill C-3, the minister explained that since we didn't know whether the bill would pass, when it would pass, and in what form it would pass it wouldn't be possible to get money appropriated or ask for money to be appropriated relative to the cost of implementing Bill C-3. Depending on how the bill goes, there could be very different numbers of people entitled to registration.

We have the expert panel presided over by Mr. Emerson, and we would expect to go to cabinet this fall based on the final form of the bill, if it passes, and some work on its likely cost. We have put a lot of that out there, and there are really only two areas likely to experience immediate pressure, because we expect about 95% of the people who will be enfranchised to be off reserve on day one, so they would be eligible for Health Canada's health benefits program, and we can do the ballpark of how many people multiplied by typical use of that program. The other would be our own post-secondary program that Ms. Crowder was asking about.

Other than that, you have to make some assumptions about whether people will ever want to move back to their reserve communities or not.

May 27th, 2010 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

I really appreciate that, sir.

My last question deals with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor. In the main estimates there was a huge decrease, and then in supplementary estimates A there seemed to be a replenishing of the funds at OFI. Can you explain just what's happening there?

My final question is about Bill C-3. If Bill C-3 were to go forward, have any moneys whatsoever been budgeted for the possibility of new entrants, even based on Mr. Clatworthy's sense of when people might come on stream?

May 27th, 2010 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Thank you, Mr. Minister, for coming before us today. It's probably no surprise to you that I have a number of questions.

Just around Jordan's Principle, on pages 11 and 25 in the plans and priorities your department mentions its ongoing commitment to implementing Jordan's Principle, but I can't tell how much money is earmarked for it. You may not be able to tell me that today; I just wondered whether somebody could tell me how much money is earmarked for the implementation of Jordan's Principle.

I want to follow up on the status piece that Mr. Lemay asked about. Page 26 of the report on plans and priorities—and it may be that I'm not understanding this—talks under “Managing Individual Affairs” about the process around status. There is a significant increase in that line item over last fiscal year on page 15-8 in the main estimates. There is a substantial difference from last year, a substantial increase.

I know that the fate of Bill C-3 is unknown, but it's not only the money for people who may increase the number with status; it's also money for the department in terms of dealing with a potential increased registration process.