Removal of all sex-based inequities in the Indian Act

News release

Government of Canada Implements Remaining Provisions of Bill S-3, Ending Sex-Based Inequities

August 15, 2019 — Gatineau, Quebec — Crown-Indigenous Relations Canada and Indigenous Services 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 Act registration 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 Act registration 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: Indian status and Collaborative Process on Indian Registration, Band Membership and First Nation Citizenship: Consultation Plan.


"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

Quick facts

  • 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.

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For more information, media may contact:

Matthew Dillon-Leitch
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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