Bill C-31 Reaches 20th Anniversary

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 13:14



Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the implementation of Bill C-31, a piece of legislation that is being widely criticized in First Nations circles.


The bill was primarily created to allow First Nations women to recover and hang on to their Indian status after marrying non-native husbands.


But it also puts conditions on how offspring from those unions, and their children, qualify for Indian status.


The Assembly of First Nations says, as a result, the population of status Indians is declining at a rapid rate. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2010, nearly 20 per cent of First Nations children will no longer be eligible for status.


AFN chief Phil Fontaine says it is morally, politically and legally wrong for the government to tell First Nations who their citizens are.


Fontaine also says Ottawa is in a clear conflict of interest here because the number of registered Indians has financial implications for the government.


He’s again calling on the government to transfer citizenship decision-making powers to First Nations governments.


Cree court judge Gerry Morin recently told a UN-sponsored human rights conference that Bill C-31 amounts to “legislative genocide” for First Nations people.