Removal of all sex-based inequities in the Indian Act
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to gender equality and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and is eliminating all remaining sex-based inequities from Indian Act registration provisions going back to its inception 150 years ago.
Today, the Government of Canada has brought into force the final provisions under Bill S-3, which removes the 1951 cut-off from the Indian Actregistration provisions.
Bringing these remaining provisions of Bill S-3 into force responds to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' calls to Justice and is in line with the United Nations Human Rights Committee decision on the claim brought forward by Sharon McIvor and Jacob Grismer.
It also reflects the recommendations from the Minister's Special Representative, Claudette Dumont-Smith, who led consultations on the removal of the 1951 cut-off as part of a broader process about Indian Actregistration reform and band membership and citizenship. The Government is also committed to implementing the implementation plan set out by Ms. Dumont-Smith in her recommendations.
This means that as of August 15, 2019, all descendants born prior to April 17, 1985 to women who lost status or were removed from band lists because of their marriage to a non-Indian man dating back to 1869, will be entitled to registration, bringing them in line with the descendants of men who never lost status.
Once registered, First Nations individuals will be eligible for federal benefits and services such as Treaty payments, post-secondary education funding, and Non-Insured Health Benefits.
Information on eligibility, the registration process and required documents, as well as general information on Bill S-3 and the removal of the 1951 cut-off, can be found at: Canada.ca/indian-status and Canada.ca/first-nation-citizenship.
"Gender equality is a fundamental human right and for far too long, First Nations women and their descendants have continued to face the effects of historical gender discrimination in Indian Act registration going back to its inception 150 years ago. I stand in solidarity with the Indigenous women who have been working so hard for decades to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act registration and am proud that today all remaining gender discrimination has been eliminated from Indian Act registration provisions."
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
"From day one, our government has been committed to gender equality and to renewing the relationship with Indigenous people. For years, Indigenous women have called for this change; the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for this change; and, today we mark an important step forward in removing all remaining sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. There is still more work to do, but these changes will mean improved quality of life for more First Nations women and their descendants."
The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
"We can't move forward when half of us are held back. Today's announcement is an important victory for gender equality and for Indigenous women in Canada. While there is still more work to do, we are committed to eliminating the systemic barriers that Indigenous women face as an important step in our long journey toward reconciliation."
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality
- The removal of the 1951 cut-off will extend status to women and descendants of women who were removed from band lists or not considered Indian due to marriage to a non-Indian man going back to 1869.
- In addition to removing the 1951 cut-off from Indian registration, the changes now in force will result in the repeal of the 6(1)(c) paragraphs of the Indian Act and will bring into force the new 6(1)(a) paragraphs. This means that anyone who was previously entitled to registration under any 6(1)(c) paragraph, will now be entitled under the new 6(1)(a) paragraphs. Individuals already registered do not need to reapply; their files will be updated automatically.
Removal of the 1951 Cut-off
On August 15, 2019, the Government of Canada removed the 1951 cut-off from the Indian Act. This was the last remaining provision of Bill S-3 to come into force. As a result, all known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act have been eliminated.
Bringing Bill S-3 fully into force to ensure women receive the same rights as men is also in line with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' calls to Justice.
The removal of the 1951 cut-off ensures that all descendants born prior to April 17, 1985 (or of a marriage before that date) of women who lost status or were removed from band lists because of their marriage to a non-Indian man going back to 1869 will be entitled to registration.
In addition to removing the 1951 cut-off from Indian registration, the legislation now in force will result in anyone previously entitled under the 6(1)(c) paragraphs of the Indian Act now being entitled under the new 6(1)(a) paragraphs.
From June 2018 to March 2019, the Government consulted with First Nations and Indigenous groups on how best to implement the removal of the 1951 cut-off. Based on what was heard during the Collaborative Process on Indian Registration, Band Membership and First Nation Citizenship, Minister's Special Representative, Claudette Dumont-Smith issued a report with six recommendations for implementation of the removal of the 1951 cut-off, which have been accepted by this Government. Her recommendations can be viewed here: www.canada.ca/first-nation-citizenship.
In addition to bringing all remaining provisions of Bill S3 into force, the Government of Canada is moving forward with implementing these recommendations.
Going forward, the Government will continue to work with First Nation communities on the implementation of these measures. We will ensure that information on the new provisions is made available and engage with First Nations to monitor the impacts of these legislative changes over time, assess mobility trends of newly registered individuals, and we will factor this information into future funding decisions.
According to independent demographic estimates, the removal of the 1951 cut-off could result in between 270,000 and 450,000 individuals being newly entitled to registration under the Indian Act over the next decade. The actual increase in the registered population will depend on the number of individuals who choose to apply and whose applications support their registration.
Once registered, First Nations individuals will be eligible for federal benefits and services such as Treaty payments, post-secondary education funding, and NIHB.
No one will lose status as a result of the removal of the 1951 cut-off.
To address Bill S-3 and the coming into force of the 1951 cut-off, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is taking steps to improve the application process for registration under the Indian Act and the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS), including:
- Examining historical records and completing genealogical research to support application processing.
- Simplifying the application process and registration requirements.
- Implementing measures and exploring partnerships to ensure the timely processing of applications.
- Proactively amending category codes to reflect the new legislation, for example (6(1)(c) to 6(1)(a.1).
Individuals who are already registered do not need to re-apply. All registered individuals, regardless of the category under which they are registered, will continue to be able to access the services and benefits to which they have been deemed entitled. If you are entitled to a category amendment, you may inquire by contacting ISC's Public Enquiries Contact Centre by phone at:
TTY: (toll-free) 1-866-553-0554
Individuals who have applied and are waiting for a decision on their application do not need to reapply. All applications will be assessed based on the amended Indian Act.
If you have never applied for registration or you have previously applied and were denied registration under the Indian Act and believe that you are entitled to registration, you must submit a complete application and supporting documentation. To find out how to apply, visit canada.ca/indian-status.
Application forms for both registration and the SCIS can be found:
- in-person at any ISC regional office
- online at canada.ca/indian-status
- by mail, by calling Public Enquiries (toll-free) at: 1-800-567-9604;by fax at: 1-866-817-3977; or TTY (toll-free): 1-866-553-0554
Applicants are encouraged to apply for both registration and the SCIS. The SCIS is an identity document provided to registered individuals to ensure access to services and benefits administered by federal and provincial/territorial governments and other private sector programs and service providers. Many organizations use the SCIS as the main proof that a person is entitled to receive services and benefits available exclusively to registered individuals.
To avoid unnecessary delays in registration and SCIS issuance, applicants are strongly encouraged to provide all required information and documentation at the time of application.
Completed applications and supporting documentation should be mailed to:
Application Processing Unit
Indigenous Services Canada
PO Box 6700
Information on the registration process as well as general information on Bill S-3 and the removal of the 1951 cut-off can be found at: www.canada.ca/indian-status and www.canada.ca/first-nation-citizenship.
- Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général)
- Eliminating known sex-based inequities in Indian registration
- McIvor United Nations decision
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