Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

June 02, 2009 13:54 ET

Government of Canada to Amend Indian Act in Wake of Landmark BC Ruling

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 2, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians today announced that the Government of Canada will not appeal the British Columbia Court of Appeal's ruling on the Sharon McIvor case and that it will proceed with amendments to the Indian Act as ordered by the Court.

"After careful consideration and review of the decision, we will proceed with the necessary legislative amendments," said Minister Strahl. "This Government has taken many actions over the years to ensure Aboriginal people enjoy the same rights, protections, and equality as other Canadians. Proceeding with those amendments as ordered by the Court is another step in that direction."

On April 6, 2009, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that certain registration provisions of the Indian Act are unconstitutional as they violate the equality provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court suspended its declaration for 12 months - to April 6, 2010 - to give the Government time to amend the Indian Act.

The ruling stems from a civil law suit that Sharon McIvor launched in October 1989, in her bid to acquire Indian status for herself and her son. She claimed that section 6 of the Indian Act was discriminatory in that it treated the descendents of Indian women who married non-Indian men differently from the descendents of Indian men who married non-Indian women. Section 6 of the Indian Act contains the provisions which determine the eligibility of individuals for Indian status. These provisions are at the centre of the McIvor case.

"We will move quickly in the coming weeks to begin the legislative process. The Government is ready to work collaboratively with willing Aboriginal organizations and Parliamentarians to facilitate the necessary bill." continued Mr. Strahl. "We are working-out the details of the process and will soon be able to provide information on the plan forward."

Contact Information

  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Nina Chiarelli
    Canada Press Secretary