Question Period: Indian Act

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Last July, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples issued a report about Indigenous peoples in Canada. Among a number of recommendations, Mr. Cali Tzay specifically called on Canada to implement the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples, including repealing section 6(2) of the Indian Act, also known as the “second-generation cut-off.”

Is the Government of Canada finally going to end the discrimination against First Nations women and their descendants in the registration provisions of the Indian Act? Or will it simply continue to take a reactive approach in response to court decisions?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and, again, for reminding us that the work towards eliminating gender inequality and other inequities in our system of law — the Indian Act being only the most prominent example of it in this regard — is ongoing.

This government has done more than any government in history to address it. The Senate has played a critical role in that regard. I will certainly make inquiries and bring the preoccupations to the attention of the minister and encourage all colleagues here, members of the Indigenous Senators Working Group and the committee to continue to use our bully pulpits to make sure this issue stays on the agenda.

Senator Francis: Senator Gold, First Nations women and their descendants have fought for decades in the courts to address sex discrimination, and we deserve redress for the harms that continue to be perpetrated. If the Government of Canada is truly committed to reconciliation, it is beyond time it removes all outstanding inequities in the Indian Act. Anything less is unacceptable, and I welcome a detailed update on what progress, if any, will be made in 2023.

Senator Gold: Again, I certainly understand and respect the question. I will certainly bring this to the attention of the relevant minister.

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