Posted on: March 4, 2018

Impact of Bill S-3, an Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), on WFN’s Membership Rules

Bill S-3 proposes to re-enact paragraph 6(1)(c) of the Indian Act (“IA”) which provides for the reinstatement of individuals whose names were omitted or deleted from the Indian Register or a Band List prior to April 17, 1985, and provides eligibility for Indian Status to:

  • women who had previously lost status as a result of marrying ‘non-Indians’;
  • children omitted or removed as a result of their mother marrying a ‘non-Indian’;
  • persons removed from the Indian Register as a result of protests based on ‘non-Indian’ paternity;
  • persons omitted or deleted from the Indian Register under the double-mother rule;
  • the illegitimate children of Indian women born prior to August 14, 1956 who were omitted or deleted because of ‘non-Indian’ paternity.

Section 6.1 (c.2) proposes to address the ‘cousins’ issue identified in the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada (Attorney General) court decision, by correcting the differential treatment in the acquisition and transmission of "Indian status" that arises among first cousins of the same family depending on the sex of their Indian grandparent, where the grandparent married a ‘non-Indian’ prior to April 17, 1985.

Section 6.1 (c.3) proposes to address the ‘siblings’ issue identified by the Court in Descheneaux by correcting the differential treatment in the ability to transmit ‘Indian status’ between male and female children whose parents were not married to each other at the time of birth. It proposes to provide entitlement under subsection 6(1) to individuals born female and out of wedlock of an Indian father and of a ‘non-Indian’ mother. Transgendered males who were born female will be assured of their ability to be eligible for registration under subsection 6(1).

The balance of the proposed amendments address the procedural results from the above changes (ie. if a parent is now eligible for status, their children are now eligible; if an eligible parent is deceased, their surviving children are still eligible, etc.).

It’s difficult to say what, if any, impact this would have on WFN Membership, as it’s unclear how many individuals are currently non-Members who might qualify for ‘status’ under these amended provisions. Regardless of these changes, WFN has its own Membership Rules (in sections 8-13 of the Constitution), so whether or not Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada registers newly qualified individuals on its roll for WFN, it doesn’t necessarily follow that WFN would then register them on its membership roll. It is likely that individuals who are not WFN Members already, but who might now qualify for status under these amendments, would not meet the minimum requirement for Membership with WFN.