Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

March 04, 2008 12:57 ET

Canada's Government Introduces Legislation to Provide Matrimonial Real Property Rights on Reserves

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 4, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, and the Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, today introduced legislation to resolve the longstanding issue of on-reserve matrimonial real property.

"With the introduction of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, our Government is taking concrete, practical action to fill an intolerable, inexcusable legislative gap that has existed for far too long", said Minister Strahl. "It's the 21st century, and yet we continue to hear stories of Aboriginal women suffering because this legislative change has not been made - a change which was made for other Canadians decades ago."

"I can think of no better time to introduce the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, than during International Women's Week which began last Saturday," said Minister Verner. "This important new legislation will afford protections to women and children living on-reserve that are similar to those now available to women and children living elsewhere."

With this legislation, the Government is striving to achieve two practical goals: 1) to establish a federal regime that will ensure that matrimonial real property rights and remedies are available to on-reserve residents; and, 2) to provide a mechanism for First Nations to develop their own community-specific laws.

Ms. Lucy Roundpoint Wolf-Clan member from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne was on hand for the announcement and she shared her personal story.

"I know all too well what can happen when a marriage breaks down and you don't have rights to equal distribution of the assets of the relationship. There was nothing that the legal system could do for me", said Ms. Roundpoint, "It's too late for me but hopefully this proposed legislation will help other Aboriginal women in my shoes."

This legislation was shaped by an extensive consultation process, which began in September 2006. Drafts of a legislative proposal were shared with the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, provinces and territories, resulting in a much-improved bill.

Our Government is following up on its commitment to enhance the quality of life of First Nations people by providing them with rights and remedies similar to those enjoyed by other Canadians.

This news release is also available on the Internet at: www.inac.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Josee Bellemare
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160