Supreme Court Decision On McIvor Angers Leaders

Friday, November 06, 2009 at 13:47



Aboriginal leaders and Opposition MPs are condemning the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear activist Sharon McIvor’s plea to allow all First Nations women to pass on Indian status to their children.


This past spring, the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with McIvor that Section 6 of the Indian Act, which deals with Indian status discriminates against the descendants of women who married non-Indian men.


McIvor wanted the Supreme Court to expand on the B.C. court’s ruling, and make the cut-off of status to later generations invalid — but the court refused.


Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, called yesterday’s decision “disappointing” — especially the court costs charged to McIvor, which she says punishes her for bringing forward the case.


Corbiere Lavell, who went to the Supreme Court to regain her own Indian status under what is now known as Bill C-31, is troubled by “continued gender discrimination” that has meant some of her own grandchildren don’t have Indian status — and by the fact that equality for First Nations women is still an unmet goal.


The B.C. decision, which invalidated Section 6, has prompted the federal government to revise the Act — with a court-imposed deadline of April 6, 2010, and while the government has promised “engagement” with First Nations, full consultation has not happened.


Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo says the AFN will continue to push the federal government to work with bands to restore the “inherent rights of First Nations to determine who their citizens are.”


NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic Jean Crowder, an MP from B.C., worries that if a new Section 6 isn’t ready by April, status could be denied to any children born after that date.