inside detectThe Commission found that, prevented from passing on their indigenous status to new generations, JEM – an indigenous matrilineal descendant from a long line of leaders of the Capilano Community – and his children. was the victim of violations of the discriminatory nature of Canada’s India Act, the main law used to govern Indigenous peoples.
Lost my nation
The committee cited the case of JEM, whose maternal grandmother was a member of the Indigenous Squamish Nation in British Colombia.
She was forced out of her community and placed in a residential school to integrate her and other Indigenous children into the Eurasian culture..
His grandmother was forced to learn English and practice Christianity, and then married a non-Indigenous man, which, under the Indians Act, meant she was no longer native. land again.
“The whole problem stems from a lack of respect for the fundamental right of indigenous peoples to self-identifyCommittee member Corinne Dettmeijer said.
Under the Act, “Indian status,” registered with the federal government, is a condition of access to rights and benefits, such as health care services, financial assistance to education, the right to reside in Indigenous territories and to hunt and fish on traditional Indigenous lands.
Prior to 1985, the India Act contained explicit discriminatory provisions against women, including stripping them of their status if they married a non-Indigenous man. Since then, despite numerous legal challenges, Canada has only modified the discriminatory provisions with partial changes rather than ending the discrimination altogether.
As JEM is a disenfranchised matrilineal Indigenous descendant, he was denied his native identity until 2011, when he was only able to restore limited status.
And it was not until 2019 that the children of JEM were recognized as indigenous.
However, under the Indians Act, they shall not have the liberty to pass on their native status to the next generation.
CEDAW found that by being prevented from passing on their indigenous status to new generations, JEM and his children were victims of violations
“It is exacerbated by the unequal criteria by which men and women are allowed to pass on their status and indigenous identity to their descendants,” Ms. Dettmeijer asserts.
The law needs to be changed
After several failed attempts to oppose the Indians in Canada Act, JEM brought its lawsuit to CEDAW, which claimed the provisions of the Indians Act were discriminatory. with descendants of disenfranchised indigenous women.
“Descendants of native Indian grandfathers will never lose their status and can always pass on their status to their children.‘ pointed out Mrs. Dettmeijer.
The Commission recommends that Canada provide appropriate compensation to JEM and his children, including recognizing them as full-qualified Indigenous peoples and allowing them to freely pass on their status and identity their indigenous identity for their descendants.
It also calls on Canada to amend its legislation to respect the basic criterion of self-identification and to provide registration for all matrilineal descendants on an equal basis with paternal descendants.