In Canada’s need to terminate Indigenous Nations and our treaty rights they are targeting Indigenous mothers and their children.
Canada, it was on January 7th, 1998 when I heard your Statement of Reconciliation, and it was on June 18th, 2008 when I heard your Apology for the Residential School System. By the time I heard your apology I was more than sceptical; at this point I loathed your lies.
Despite your Statement of Reconciliation and the Apology for the Residential School System, in your desire to eliminate Indigenous Nations and our right to land and resources, along with attacking us through your pitiful land claims and self-government policies which amount to little more than our self-termination, you are also targeting Indigenous women and their children. This is the case despite two remedial legislations, in 1985 and 2011, to amend The Indian Act. Come on Canada, do you really think I am not paying attention to how you manipulate policy and law?
Canada, in 1985 you amended The Indian Act to bring it in line with The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in particular section 15 which states people have a right to a life free from sex discrimination. Despite your so-called remedial legislation, your process of change resulted in new forms of sex discrimination such as the second-generation cut-off rule, the unequal status restoration to Indigenous grandmothers once enfranchised when compared to grandfathers, and the removal of provisions that once protected Indigenous children born outside the institution of marriage and children of unstated, unreported, unnamed, unacknowledged, unestablished, unrecognized and unknown paternity.
In the 2011 amendment to The Indian Act, intended to eliminate the sex discrimination created through the 1985 amendment, you continue to refuse to resolve the issues. Rather, despite this additional remedial action, Canada, you continue to apply an unequal restoration of status to many Indigenous children, and you continue to deny Indigenous children born through common law marriages.
Canada, your legal system that has been imposed on us and that Indigenous women are forced to move through, is arduous, costly, sexist, and racist that yields little in terms of compliance with The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, let alone Indigenous people’s treaty rights. It took Sharon McIvor 25 years to have her case heard in your court rooms yet you refused to eliminate the sex discrimination. And, for that matter Canada, I have been at my process since 1985.
Since 1985, many Indigenous children have been denied their treaty rights due to a lack of a father’s signature on their birth certificate. In these situations, Canada, you assume the fathers are non-Indian making Indigenous mothers who are registered under section 6(2) of The Indian Act and their children vulnerable. Canada, you are doing this to these mothers and their children knowing full well that the sexual violence in our communities brought on through colonization is pervasive. You have been very effective, Canada, at producing devastating policy and laws resulting in child molestation, incest, rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, and prostitution. And now, Canada, you are benefiting from this by targeting mothers and babies.
Canada, you know full well that the sex discrimination I am talking about was birthed with the 1857 Civilization Act. Is not 156 years of sex discrimination long enough? Have not Indigenous women worked long enough to have it eliminated? Indigenous women and their children should not bear the brunt of your need to eliminate your treaty responsibilities. This is not the reconciliation I had in mind Canada.
Also see this link: Unknown and Unstated Paternity and the Indian Act
Dr. Lynn Gehl is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process, and recently published a book titled Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see more of her work at www.lynngehl.com
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