Of course, we can see the contradiction. It is obvious. It's really the outcome of your laws. The expression “divide and conquer” applies, but we can't even agree amongst ourselves.
I can understand the challenges of aboriginal communities: their economic survival, the lack of access to housing, the lack of funding, underfunding, and so on. I can understand their whole situation. I am working with my colleagues at the Assembly of First Nations, and I understand those realities. I myself lived in an aboriginal community. So I know what I am talking about when it comes to things like language and culture.
However, today we are talking about issues that directly affect women. The existence of women is important. Why were women targeted in this piece of legislation? It's because we, as women, are responsible for transmitting language and culture.
In a different context, prior to 1985, a Quebec woman who married an aboriginal was considered a pure aboriginal. Don't you see how ridiculous that is?
The ultimate goal of the Indian Act truly was assimilation. Who was penalized? It was us, the women, as carriers of future generations and guardians of culture and language.
I know that there may be some contradictions today; that's clear. However, we will speak for women, as this act is truly founded on sex-based discrimination, and we, as women, are targeted. Nevertheless, I know that there are other issues related to life in aboriginal communities.
As part of Bill C-3, I walked from Quebec City to Ottawa and I understood why my colleagues were reluctant to support us. In fact, even though 40,000 aboriginals were registered, budgets in communities remained unchanged. That's the economic side.
Existence is truly an important issue. Why are you the ones who recognize who we are, through your laws? We are not given an opportunity to recognize ourselves. That would mitigate many issues. I believe that it would establish a better balance among our nations.