Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Canada / Indigenous Peoples

First Nations Women on 300-Mile March against Indian Act
By Gale Courey Toensing
Indian Country Today, June 2, 2010
Photo: Quebec Native Women
"Canada's Indian Act has had more than 20 major changes, but First Nations leaders say it's still an instrument of gender discrimination and, ultimately, bureaucratic genocide. With a proposed new amendment to the 1876 act -- Bill C-3 -- a group of Native women are on a month-long, 300-mile protest march to tell the federal government that the latest fix to the Victorian-era legislation will not end Canada's institutionalized discrimination against First Nations people, especially women. The Amun March -- 'amun' means 'a large gathering' -- began May 4 on the reservation in Wendake, the territorial lands of the Huron-Wendat First Nation near Quebec City, and was scheduled to end June 1 in front of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. Through the Indian Act, Canada’s federal government made First Nations people wards of the state and took control of all aspects of their lives and communities.
The act provided for government registration of Natives, and the government continues to register First Nations people today. Those granted 'Indian status' are entitled to health, education and other social services. But the act's overarching theme was 'assimilate or die.' Natives could seek Canadian citizenship if they renounced their rights, privileges, culture, languages and traditions. ... At the act's core was a policy that deprived women, who married non-Native men, and their children of Indian status. A Native man who married a non-Native woman could keep his status, and his wife and children would gain status. But if a child's mother and paternal grandmother did not have a right to Indian status other than by virtue of having married Indian men, the child had status only up to the age of 21. 'It's a slow genocide,' Audette said. 'It's not the same as genocide in Africa, but it's a kind of genocide to make sure we no longer exist as First Nations.' [...]"

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