Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

September 28, 2011 16:38 ET

Legislation Protecting Matrimonial Interests and Rights on Reserve Introduced in the Senate

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2011) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced today the introduction of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act.

The Government is acting quickly to reinforce its commitment in the 2011 Speech from the Throne to ensure that people living on reserve have similar rights and protections as other Canadians with regard to matrimonial property and interests.

"It has been more than 25 years since the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged that people living on reserves in Canada lack similar matrimonial real property rights and protections as other Canadians," said Minister Duncan. "Our Government is taking concrete action to address this unacceptable situation."

This bill offers a balanced and effective solution to a longstanding injustice and legislative gap that affects people living on reserves, particularly women and children. As a result, many of the legal rights and remedies relating to matrimonial interests in the family home that are available off reserves in the context of relationship breakdown, death of a spouse or common-law partner, or family violence, are not available to individuals living on reserve.

"Protecting matrimonial interests and rights is an important step in ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls," said the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women.

The bill builds on a version that was tabled in the last session of Parliament. Changes have been made to address some concerns expressed by First Nations and further support them in developing their own laws. The changes include:

  1. Elimination of the provisions related to the verification process, including the role of the verification officer.

  2. Lower ratification threshold for the approval of First Nation matrimonial real property laws to a single majority with a set participation rate of at least 25 per cent of the eligible voters.

  3. A 12-month transition period before the federal provisional rules come into force.

Further information on the legislation can be found on the website of the Senate of Canada.


Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act

Scenarios reflecting impact of current legislative gap

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  • Minister's Office
    Moira Wolstenholme
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    Office of the Honourable John Duncan

    Media Relations
    Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
    Development Canada