Hello. My name is Jeremy Matson. I would like to thank the Algonquin people for allowing me to speak on their traditional territory. I would also like to thank Mr. Descheneaux, Ms. Yantha, Ms. Sharon McIvor, her son Jacob, Ms. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, Ms. Bédard, Ms. Lavell, Mary Two-Axe Earley, and many others who continue to advance or who have advanced indigenous peoples' rights here in Canada.
Currently, I'm registered under subsection 6(2) of the Indian Act under Bill C-3, the McIvor bill, which is the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act. I'm a Squamish Nation member and I have direct ancestral connections to the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and other Coast Salish nations.
I am married to my wife Taryn Matson, née Moore. We have two children: Iris Matson, who is eight years old, and August Matson, who is five years old.
I am one of many grandsons of Nora Johnston and Vino Matson. My grandparents were married in 1927, and because of her marriage to my non-aboriginal grandfather, my grandmother was commuted under the 1927 Indian Act and remained disentitled to her identity.
My father, Eugene Matson, was one of seven children born to my grandparents Nora and Vino between the years 1928 and 1942. My grandparents had approximately 30 grandchildren. We'll go into the effects of the upcoming Bill S-3 on those 30 grandchildren.
My grandmother remained disentitled as a band member or as a status Indian—a recognized Indian under the Indian Act—until April 17, 1985. Under Bill C-31, the amendments back then, my grandmother was registered under paragraph 6(1)(c) of the Indian Act and registered as a band member under section 11 of the Indian Act under the Squamish Nation.
My grandmother's seven children were registered for the first time under subsection 6(2) of the Indian Act, Bill C-31.
Canada has imposed discriminatory legislation against my family for 90 years. The intergenerational impact is significant. Canada has denied our cultural identities and/or placed my family members in an inferior position compared with those in other indigenous families in Canada, and the sole reason is gender discrimination and its adverse impacts.
I'll go a little bit into the nuts and bolts of Bill S-3 as drafted and its shortcomings and the way it affects my family.
I will be potentially entitled to paragraph 6(1)(c.2) registration under the proposed amendments. I'm going to go through my children's case. That means they'll be entitled to subsection 6(2) Indian status under this bill.
But there are a few inequalities in your tinkering with the Indian Act. You've created more problems—not you the INAN committee, but the drafters. I'll go through proposed paragraph 6(1)(c.4)—this is part of the Bill S-3 draft amendments—and show how my children meet some of these categories but will be left out from proposed paragraph 6(1)(c.4) Indian status.
The first category is for those for whom:
one of their parents is entitled to be registered under paragraph (c.2)
That would be me, as my children meet that criterion—and then they qualify under item (ii) of that proposed paragraph 6(1)(c.4) if:
their other parent is not entitled to be registered
That would be my wife.
Then item 6(1)(c.4)(iii) states, as its qualifying criterion:
they were born before April 17, 1985, whether or not their parents were married to each other at the time of the birth, or they were born after April 16, 1985
My children meet that, and then it says:
and their parents were married to each other at any time before April 17, 1985
My children do not meet that category, so they're not entitled under that item of proposed paragraph 6(1)(c.4).
The newly entitled under Bill S-3—that means the generation below mine and descending generations from there, the newly entitled great-grandchildren or the second-generation cousins of my grandmother—the descendants of my grandmother, will be treated in a differential manner.
Some will be entitled to proposed subsection 6(2) Indian status, some to proposed subsection 6(1) Indian status under the Indian Act amendments in Bill S-3.
In my submission, I broke down all 30 grandchildren and how their standings would fall under Bill S-3. The first three grandchildren of my grandmother will not be entitled under this bill. They were not entitled under Bill C-3, because they were born prior to September 4, 1951, and they will remain disentitled under proposed subsection 6(1) Indian status, and their descendants will, too.
I also broke down.... I don't know what version of my submission you have. The first-generation cousins, the grandchildren, are highlighted in red. Those would be the individuals who were married prior to April 17, 1985. They will be entitled to pass proposed subsection 6(1) Indian status to their children, and the remaining non-highlighted grandchildren, which I fall under, will only be able to pass proposed subsection 6(2) Indian status to their children.
There is going to be differential treatment of siblings and families. In my family, first-generation cousins are going to be left out or left with an inferior status.
On page 6, in a detailed chart for the INAN committee, I broke down how I, my family, and my children will be treated differently, in comparison to my first-generation cousins' families and their breakdown.
I would encourage this committee to look at that, as it could be a possible recommendation. If you are staying in all the four corners of Bill S-3, and what Justice Masse has done with her decision in the Descheneaux case, my submissions and recommendations would stay within those four corners, but it would be nice to have everybody who was born prior to April 17, 1985 under proposed paragraph 6(1)(a) Indian status, as Ms. McIvor mentioned.
Not too long ago, on October 25, Canada went under review by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Canada is a treaty member of that particular United Nations committee, and Canada's review was in the 65th session. On November 18, only a couple of weeks ago, CEDAW, from the United Nations, with the report CEDAW/C/CAN/CO/8-9, called Canada out about this very bill, Bill S-3. I provided that in there, but I didn't provide the reference and the web link. I forgot to put that in my submission.
Paragraph 12 of the report states that the committee:
further notes that a new Bill [S-3] amending the Indian Act is currently being developed. However, the Committee remains concerned about continued discrimination against indigenous women, in particular regarding the transmission of Indian status, preventing them and their descendants from enjoying all the benefits related to such status.
In paragraph 13 the committee recommends that parliamentarians fix that.
This is the third CEDAW report that has announced to Canada to abolish or fix this discrimination. I currently have a petition before CEDAW about section 6 of the Indian Act and the relationship between the state and me as an individual, my children, my grandchildren, and my future descendants.
I also listed numerous other United Nations reports calling on Canada to abolish this, and I have provided links.
I'll now get to the the recommendations for Bill S-3.
It would be nice for this committee to provide a recommendation for proposed paragraph 6(1)(a) Indian status for everybody born prior to April 17, 1985, and also to provide future amendments, because there are implications, too, about April 17, 1985 to the present day. It's not just between April 17, 1985 and back to 1876, and before, that that there was discrimination. We also have to go forward after that date.
Staying within the four corners of this bill, under proposed paragraph 6(1)(c.4) I recommend providing Indian status to all the newly entitled, meaning my children's generational level, and not create differences between first-generation cousins or siblings.
Recommendation two is to provide Indian status or entitlement for all those individuals born prior to September 4, 1951. As my family history clearly displays, I have three first-generation cousins who remain disentitled under Bill S-3, even though CEDAW has recommended to Canada to fix all discrimination.