Indigenous women in Peterborough area demand an end to sex discrimination in Indian Act

A group of indigenous women and their supporters want the prime minister to use an order in council to end sex discrimination in the 143-year- old Indian Act. Dan Nyznik has the details.

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.

READ MORE: Peterborough activists pushing for change to Indian Act gather outside MP’s office

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.

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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.

READ MORE: Federal Liberals urged to accept Senate change to sex discrimination bill

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.

“We’re here today because we recognize that [the government] is trying to divide us and we’re not going to let them. So come on prime minister and take the next step, because we need you to do the order-in-council,” said Jones.

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)

Mi’kmaq elders reflect on past decades of discrimination in Nova Scotia
Mi’kmaq elders reflect on past decades of discrimination in Nova Scotia
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