In November 2016, LEAF provided the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples with a submission on Bill S-3 and ending sex discrimination in the Indian Act.

LEAF’s submission argued that Bill S-3 represented a piecemeal approach to reform. The bill failed to achieve full equality between Indigenous men and women in eligibility for and transmission of status under the Indian Act.

Bill S-3 left intact significant areas of sex discrimination. For example, under Bill S-3:

LEAF acknowledged that Bill S-3 was intended to be the first of two stages of Indian Act reform. Other issues – including undisclosed or unknown paternity, the second-generation cutoff, federal authority to determine status, and Indigenous jurisdiction over citizenship – might be addressed in the second stage as part of a broad, Nation-to-Nation conversation. This broader reform was essential: the second-generation cut-off was designed to – and would – result in the eradication of status Indians in Canada within 100 years. LEAF supported the call of Indigenous governments and organizations for this Nation-to-Nation conversation.

Nonetheless, LEAF urged the Committee to ensure Bill S-3 removed all vestiges of sex discrimination from the status provisions. This would be an essential first step towards meeting Canada’s obligations towards Indigenous women under international law, and would set a strong foundation for a broader Nation-to-Nation conversation about moving beyond the racist and colonial Indian Act.

Read and download the submission below.