The Government of Canada takes action to eliminate known Sex-Based Discrimination in the Indian Act

News Release

July 28, 2016 – Ottawa, ON – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, provided details on the Government of Canada’s two-staged approach in the context of the response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in the case of Descheneaux et al., v. Canada.

As part of the first stage, the Government of Canada will work with Indigenous peoples to eliminate known sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. In the coming weeks, INAC will discuss the structure of engagements with Indigenous organizations to work towards legislative amendments to the Indian registration provisions of the Indian Act. These legislative changes will allow for immediate response to the specific facts in the Descheneaux decision which must be in place by February 3, 2017, as well as other known sex-based discrimination in Indian registration under the Indian Act.

The Government of Canada is aware there are concerns and a need for reform to address further issues. Stage two will provide an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to jointly design a process to examine the broader and systemic issues related to Indian registration and membership, citizenship and identity for First Nations, Métis and non-status Indians.

This work is in keeping with the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.


“For decades, Indigenous women have fought to eliminate sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. We honour their work, and are fully committed to eliminating known sex-based discrimination in the Act, in full partnership with First Nations. While today’s changes will address many long-standing grievances with the Indian Act, we know that our shared goal must be to work together to move beyond the Indian Act, based on recognition of rights, respect, and cooperation."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“Ensuring equal rights for all Indigenous women and girls is a priority for the Government of Canada. Only through collaboration can we take an important step in addressing historic injustices and stay true to our renewed, Nation-to-Nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Status of Women

Additional links


Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

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