Activists Seek Premier’s Support In McIvor Fight

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 12:20



Members of the Onion Lake First Nation marched through the streets of Regina today.


The band members are calling attention to plans by the federal government to amend the Indian Act.


Ottawa is attempting to remove from the Act clauses that the B.C. Court of Appeal says are discriminatory.


The matter stems from a lawsuit filed against the government by Sharon McIvor, a woman who objected to the fact that her son would not be allowed to pass Indian status down to his own descendants because McIvor had married a non-Native man.


The case has been subject to close scrutiny by many Native leaders, who feel it could potentially change how many First Nations people are recognized by Ottawa.


Darlene Chocan is one of the Onion Lake band members who took part in today’s march.


She says First Nations leaders need to speak out about this case, because many bands could lose large chunks of funding if Ottawa narrows the definition of who is a First Nations citizen.


“They need to start informing their members. I don’t think very many leaders have been doing that, informing their members that we are — like, the seriousness of this, and how it’s going to affect their band members,” Chocan says.


Chocan says her own band has done a good job so far in terms of keeping members in the loop.


Today’s march ended at the steps of the legislature, where protesters sought the support of Premier Brad Wall, in regards to their citizenship rights.


Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Guy Lonechild says the federation is supporting the rights of First Nations women.


“We’re here to promote unity, on a day where First Nations unity is important on issues like citizenship, and we stand firmly behind our women’s rights,” Lonechild says.


Chief Dale Awasis of the Thunderchild First Nation says he wants continued support from the premier regarding First Nations issues.


“He wanted to create partnership, he recognizes the treaty, he implemented treaty education in all the schools in Saskatchewan, which is a good thing. So we’re asking for his continued support. We’re asking him to recognize what we are doing, and to support us in that cause,” Awasis says.