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A message from the Feminist Alliance for International Action:

Dear Friends and Allies,

We need to get rid of sex discrimination in the Indian Act now!

Please help by:

1) signing on to the attached letter and

2) circulating this email and letter to all your friends and all the organizations you work with. We need both organizations and individuals to sign on. Send your sign on to ASAP.

Shocking as it is, Indian women still do not enjoy the same entitlement to full Indian status and the same ability to transmit their status to their descendants as Indian men. This discrimination has existed since the Indian Act was first introduced in 1876. We believe that 143 years of sex discrimination is enough.

Since 1970, this discrimination has been condemned repeatedly by Canadian commissions and inquiries, United Nations treaty bodies, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Canadian courts have ruled in case after case that the Indian Act violates s. 15 of the Charter. Despite this, Canada’s amendments to the Indian Act have been narrow, and have never eliminated the structure of discrimination that is embedded in the Act. In 2017, because of the insistence of the Senate, and the Famous Six, the Government of Canada included provisions in Bill S-3 that can eliminate the discrimination completely, but these provisions are not in force.

Now we have a new development. On January 11, 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued its decision on the petition filed by Sharon McIvor and ruled that Indian Act sex discrimination violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a signatory to this treaty, Canada is directed to ensure that all First Nations women and their descendants are granted the same status as their male counterparts. We want to see this ruling implemented immediately.

We are coming up to an election. If this 143-year-old discrimination is not removed by May 2019, we will head into an election period, and the opportunity for groundbreaking change will be gone.


1. Please sign on to this letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Minister of Justice asking them to remove the sex discrimination from the Indian Act now; to sign on, send us an email at by March 1 with your name, if you are signing as an individual, or the name of your organization, and/or the name of all the individuals at your organization that would like to sign on. We will keep a continuous list and post it on our website.

2. For background information on Indian Act sex discrimination, please go here.

3. To see the UN decision, please go here.

Thank you for your help and support.
Sharon McIvor
Pamela Palmater
Shelagh Day

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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