Evidence of meeting #35 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was status.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Joëlle Montminy  Assistant Deputy Minister, Resolution and Individual Affairs Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Martin Reiher  General Counsel, Department of Justice
Candice St-Aubin  Executive Director, Resolution and Individual Affairs Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Nathalie Nepton  Executive Director, Indian Registration and Integrated Program Management, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Effie Panousos  Senior Policy Advisor and Manager, Treaties and Aboriginal Government Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Stéphane Descheneaux  As an Individual
Rick O'Bomsawin  Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak
David Schulze  Legal Counsel, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Can we put that first slide up that talked about the actual decision? I think it was the original slide. Am I out of time?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

You're out of time, but it makes a nice backdrop for the next questioner.

We'll move to the next five-minute round, which is coming from Gary Anandasangaree, please.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Thank you for joining us this afternoon. I take your comments and certainly appreciate the frustration that you expressed today.

I want to home in on the actual decision itself and I'm a little bit confused. Maybe there can be a little more clarity. My understanding of the particular case in question is that the issue for the court to decide was the issue of gender discrimination. Is that right, if I'm not mistaken?

November 21st, 2016 / 5:15 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

David Schulze

Yes. There were two cases. I'll try to do this very quickly. It took me five weeks in court.

The thing you need to remember is that a 6(1)'s child is always status, but a 6(2)'s child is only status if the other parent is status. You also need to understand, and this is crucial, everyone who was on the list before 1985 is 6(1). There are two situations. We'll get to Stéphane's in a moment. In the Yantha case, Susan and Tammy Yantha, the son of an Indian man and a non-Indian woman born out of wedlock pre-1985 was entitled to status, but there was nothing in the Indian Act, because the Indian Act said an Indian depends on the male line, to make his daughter an Indian. We had this situation post-1985 that the sons of those men were 6(1) and the daughters were 6(2). That was the first thing that's being cured by this judgment.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Right. In terms of the judgment itself, I'm trying to get an understanding, because I think we can agree that the Indian Act is problematic on a number of levels. I think there's a desire by many to, in fact, even eliminate the Indian Act or have it replaced with something else that would give the communities a lot more agency.

In respect to the actual decision itself, my understanding is that it was to deal with the issue of gender discrimination and the legislation to come forward as per the February 3 deadline is to redress any anticipated issues with gender discrimination. Is that right, if I'm not mistaken?

5:15 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

David Schulze

Justice Masse was very clear. She said, “I have three plaintiffs before me: Stéphane Descheneaux, and Susan and Tammy Yantha. I can only rule on their cases.” Then she added the passage that we put up on the screen. She said nothing is stopping Parliament from playing its constitutional role to cure charter violations that it sees elsewhere in the legislation.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Thank you for that clarity, and I did read that.

My understanding is that the bill before us, Bill S-3, addresses the issue of gender inequality in respect to registration. Any other issue is outside of the issue of gender, certainly perhaps charter related, but that is not specifically defined in the ruling. Right?

We have a deadline of February 3. My question for you really is, at this stage, what do you expect us to do? The court doesn't have to grant us additional time. At this point the court, based on the ruling if it stands, could basically not register anyone applying for registration. We don't want to have a state of confusion and, as such, the bill before us does address the comprehensive issue of gender discrimination from my understanding. In terms of going beyond that, I think that's where the consultation process probably may need to do a better job in reaching out and being proactive. But the second part of it is what we're really talking about.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

You have 30 seconds for an answer.

5:20 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

David Schulze

The problems we have identified aren't even in that consultation, and the second stage of consultation is a shopping list so long it will take years to get through.

My final point is, having been before it for five weeks, I really don't think that Justice Masse would mind if Indian Affairs came before her and said that they'd like a little more time to get it right.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thanks.

The final question for the panel is coming from Arnold Viersen, please.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

I think my question was answered earlier. You kept referring to “they” and that was the panel we had just before yours. When you said “they”, was that who you were talking about?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

Yes. I apologize, because I don't remember all their names.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay, that's my conundrum all the time. It's sometimes a little bit of a faceless organization, INAC. It's never easy to pin down who we're talking about or where the hard spot is to push on, essentially.

Then you said you met with a number of chiefs.

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

It was a chiefs assembly that we had. They had asked us if they could come to talk to us at the chiefs assembly. We had made it very, very clear that it would not be a consultation, that it would be strictly an information session, and that's what she said, that it would be an information session. But at the time we didn't really get any information.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Is the chiefs assembly part of AFN?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

It's part of the AFNQL.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

When we had the folks who were up here before you, they said that they've dealt with a number of the national organizations. In your opinion, is that considered consultation, or is it—

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

Again, they stated that they had consulted with several communities and several chiefs, and even at the national level we've reached out and we can't find anybody they've spoken to. I asked them for a list of communities or people they had spoken to, or who they had consulted with. Being the people on the case, we would have thought we would probably have been the first people they would have consulted with. To this date they have still not got back to me on anything.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay, that's interesting.

Getting back to my question. lt's AFN and then regional chiefs and then also chiefs for individual treaties.

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

I'm part of Treaty No. 8 and we have an individual chief for that. Would you say that speaking to those individual bodies is considered consultation, or were you looking for a sit-down with...? That seems obvious, but would you say that had they gone more to your regional chief or to the AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde, that would have been more appropriate?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

Normally, they would meet with a group of chiefs. Normally, they would meet with us all at the same time, at the chiefs meeting.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay.

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Abénakis Band Council of Odanak

Chief Rick O'Bomsawin

But as I said, this has never been done. They didn't meet with us.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay, so that—