A group of Indigenous women from Peterborough and their supporters are calling for an end to what they say is 143 years of sex discrimination in the Indian Act.
And they want none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make it happen so it can become law through a cabinet decision.
“I have to say to you that Canada has never really liked women,” said Old Women’s Network spokesperson Jill Jones to the gathering on Monday in the former United Church on Rubidge Street.
And that’s exactly why the women are fighting to balance the gender scales in the Act, once and for all.
“Indigenous women have been working for almost half a century to eliminate the sex discrimination in the act,” said Alice Williams of the Kawarthas Truth and Reconciliation Support Group.
At issue is clause 6 (1) A of the Act which is the strongest form of First Nation Status for Indigenous men. It gives them full treaty rights, whereas the women are classified as 6 (1) C, which advocates say denies them certain rights.
“The 6 (1) A clauses were added to Bill S3 (the Act) yet they are not officially law,” said Phyllis Williams, Chief of Curve Lake First Nation just north of Peterborough.
“When the nation fails to respect Indigenous women and our right to be free from sex discrimination, this brings with it a dangerous message to the rest of Canada and the world,” says Charmaine Magumbe with the Community and Race Relations Committee.
With more than 130 female chiefs in Canada, the community leaders say their gender equality movement cannot be ignored .
“The federal government has the responsibility to do something about this and it is actually for the benefit of all Indigenous nations,” said Roy Brady with the Council of Canadians.
If that happens at the next cabinet meeting, it would become law.
WATCH: Mi’kmaq elders reflect on past decades of discrimination in Nova Scotia (October 2018)