FEMMES AUTOCHTONES DU QUÉBEC INC.
QUEBEC NATIVE WOMEN INC.
March 4, 2010
QNW would like to comment on the Governor General’s speech from the Throne in hopes that clarifications may be made regarding important issues impacting Indigenous women and our communities. We are pleased to hear mention of the research project Sisters In Spirit but are concerned regarding the vagueness in her Excellency’s speech as to how the Government of Canada proposes to address the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women. The factors responsible for the flagrant abuse of Aboriginal women’s rights in Canadian society such as poverty, status or the lack thereof, violence in all its forms, etc, are all linked to the implementation of the archaic Indian Act.
The double discrimination of Aboriginal women can also be linked to a lack of political will motivated by an apathetic attitude to profoundly change the Indian Act.
QNW sincerely believes that the proposed amendment to the Indian status registration provisions (section 6) of the Indian Act in order to comply with the Court of Appeal of British Columbia’s decision in the Sharon McIvor case, will not adequately address the issue of gender equality for Indigenous women and men. The Court of Appeal’s decision continues to uphold the colonial institution of status being passed through the male line, while only granting Indigenous women partial rights on this issue. As well, with an April 6, 2010 deadline looming and the prorogation of Parliament, it is perhaps unrealistic for the government of Canada to believe that the legislation can be passed in less than a month.
Although QNW is encouraged by her Excellency’s statement that the Government of Canada will consider endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we will remain vigilant and cautious until such time as there is a genuine demonstration by Canada to support and implement the Declaration. Our cautiousness is based upon Canada’s behavior in the last 3 years where it vigorously opposed the UNDRIP stating that it is contrary to Canada’s constitution and laws. International human rights Declarations are universally applicable upon their adoption by the United Nations. Suggesting that they must conform with national legislation shows a disregard for the international system.
We are concerned that Canada continues to engage in colonization against Indigenous peoples. Canada requires the surrendering of land rights in its land claims process threatening the very identity and well-being of future generations of Indigenous peoples. There also appears to be a lack of sincere reconciliation following the Residential School Apology of June 2008. The status quo remains as does inadequate funding formulas for Indigenous languages, education in particular special needs children, child welfare, amongst other mediocre funding formulas which purport to address serious needs of communities which in reality promote assimilation and perpetuate dysfunction.
On the topic of venture capital and foreign investments, QNW is extremely concerned regarding the statement that “Government will ensure that unnecessary regulation does not inhibit the growth of Canada’s uranium mining industry by unduly restricting foreign investment.” The health and well-being of many Indigenous communities have been threatened due to the lack of free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples on lands and resources that have not been ceded through the land claims process. Land rights and the self-determination of Indigenous peoples are constantly being undermined by these very activities that fail to adequately consult Indigenous peoples. Aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada including the right to land are guaranteed under section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982 but are consequently not respected or implemented when it comes to Canada’s quest for energy security and development.
In conclusion, while the Speech from the Throne was peppered with the appearance of good will, holistically speaking, there remains much to be desired in the content and details of the Speech from the Throne. Time will determine the sincerity of the Government of Canada in respecting the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous peoples. In the meantime, we remain hopeful and optimistic that justice will prevail and that the rule of law will indeed be respected.
For more information contact: Aurelie Arnaud, Communications Officer Quebec Native Women (450) 632 0088. E-mail: email@example.com