From FAFIA (Feminist Alliance for International Action) via AWID (Association for Women's Rights in Development):
"Canadian Aboriginal woman lawyer, leader and advocate, Sharon McIvor announced today [December 22, 2010] that she will file a complaint against Canada at the United Nations. 'Canada continues to discriminate against Aboriginal women and their descendants in the determination of eligibility for registration as an Indian. Versions of the Indian Act, going back to the
19th century, have given preference to male Indians as transmitters of status, and to descendants of male Indians. Despite amendments made to the Indian Act when the Charter came into effect in 1985, Aboriginal women are still not treated equally as transmitters of status, and many thousands of descendants of Aboriginal women are denied status as a result.'
McIvor said: “I contested this discrimination under the Charter. It took twenty years in Canadian courts, and I achieved only partial success. Now I will seek full justice for Aboriginal women under international human rights law. Canada needs to be held to account for its intransigence in refusing to completely eliminate sex discrimination from the Indian Act and for decades of delay.”
In 1994, Sharon McIvor brought a constitutional challenge to the sex discrimination in the registration provisions of the Indian Act. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that section 6 of the Indian Act violated s. 15 of the Charter. However, when Canada appealed, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that although the Indian Act was discriminatory, the bulk of the discrimination
was justified because the Government’s purpose was to preserve the existing rights of the Aboriginal men and their descendants who had been given preferred status.
Parliament is now poised to pass a new amendment to the Indian Act, Bill C-3, in response to the Court of Appeal decision. But Bill C-3, if passed, will provide only a partial and inadequate solution to the sex discrimination. Bill C-3 will make some female line descendants newly
eligible for status, but they will still have a lesser ability to transmit status than their male line counterparts. In addition, Bill C-3 will still exclude many descendants of Indian women who were unmarried. As long as these Aboriginal women and their descendants continue to be ineligible for registration as Indians, sex discrimination will remain an entrenched characteristic of the Indian Act.
McIvor said: “Because neither Canadian courts nor Parliament have yet granted an adequate and effective remedy for the sex discrimination which has been a hallmark of the Indian Act for more than a hundred years, I will take my case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.”
“Many people in Canada, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, recognize that this long-standing discrimination against Aboriginal women and their descendants is wrong and should end. Before me, Mary Two-Axe Early, Jeanette Corbière Lavell, Yvonne Bedard, and Sandra Lovelace all fought to end sex discrimination against Aboriginal women in the status registration provisions in the Indian Act. I will continue, with the same determination they had, until Aboriginal women enjoy equality,” said McIvor."
Sharon McIvor has devoted her life to improving the conditions of Aboriginal women, and all women in Canada. Sharon is a member of the Lower Nicola Band in British Columbia , a practicing lawyer, and a Professor of Aboriginal Law at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. She has spent over two decades fighting to end sex discrimination under the status provisions of the Indian Act. At the same time she has been tireless in her work to end violence against Aboriginal women.