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Showing posts from May, 2010

Bill C-3 - Not a Catastrophe if it Does not Pass

In my previous blog on Bill C-3, I argued that we should not agree to pass the bill as it currently reads. I made this argument despite the fact that I, personally, stand to gain from Bill C-3. In my opinion, the more important issue is whether our children, siblings, cousins and future community members will benefit and not whether a select few have their immediate needs met.

As First Nations peoples, we have always made decisions based on what is best for our future generations and not what we need in the present or what has worked in the past. We can not simply preach the values we represent as First Nations - we have to put those values into action. This will mean that we have to make sacrifices in the present, to ensure that our children are protected in the future. This is asking no more and no less than what our ancestors did for us by protecting our lands through war, treaties and self-sacrifice.

Also in my last blog on Bill C-3, I highlighted some of the misconceptions about th…

Vote-Buying in Burnt Church a Cultural Tradition?

I know that this blog may be a little off-topic from my usual discussions, but this issue is too important to let slide. A very senior person in Aboriginal politics has made an absolutely insane statement about my Mi'kmaq Nation, our governance practices and our traditions. The record now has to be set straight so that the public does not think Mi'kmaq people are all crooks.

Burnt Church First Nation (also known as Esgenoopetitj) is one of several Mi'kmaq communities in New Brunswick. My home community is Eel River Bar First Nation is only a few hours north of Burnt Church. The Chief of Burnt Church is Wilber Dedham and his term in office has not been without significant controversy.

Earlier this year, a member of Burnt Church filed a complaint with the RCMP alleging that council members participated in vote buying during the election. APTN reported that initially the RCMP refused to investigate the complaint because it did not want to ruin relations with Burnt Church. As so…

Bill C-3 Debates of May 25, 2010

This blog is a summary of my initial reaction to the debates on Bill C-3 that took place in the House on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. It is quite clear to me that there is a huge divide between the unanimous voices of Aboriginal peoples on this issue and that of the government. Even the opposition parties have noted the rare unanimity of opinion on this issue. What follows are some of the main items that Canada is using to try to justify passing this Bill:

(1) The Members of Parliament (MPs) must pass Bill C-3 as there is a strict court-imposed deadline of July 1, 2010.

As has already been pointed out by numerous witnesses and the government itself, the court of appeal had already indicated a willingness to grant a longer deadline to amend the Act as it noted the complexity of the Act.

If Canada did seek an extension, they would still be well within the norm of 12-24 months given by the Supreme Court of Canada for amendments.

(2) The government did extensive "consultations" with the …

Copy of Letter sent to Minister of INAC asking Canada to Amend Bill C-3

Dear Minister Strahl;

RE: Bill C-3

I understand that next week the House will start debate at the report stage of Bill C-3. Please accept this letter as my official request for you to make meaningful amendments to the bill in order to finally end gender discrimination.

Barring substantive amendments, I would ask that you withdraw Bill C-3 as currently drafted and re-introduce a bill that better reflects the values and principles of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our Constitution, and our country as a whole. If you cannot withdraw the Bill for some procedural reason, then I ask that your government vote against it and start over.

Had your government been open to considering reasonable amendments to the Bill in order to address gender discrimination, we, those affected by gender discrimination, would not be put in the position of having to find solutions to the legislative mess created by Canada. The duty always seems to be placed back on the excluded to find ways to make inclusion fin…

Current Status of Bill C-3

Bill C-3 - An An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)(Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act).

This Bill was introduced in the House on March 11, 2010. Debates at second reading were on March 26 & 29, 2010. The Bill was then studied at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAON) from April 1st-29th, 2010.

During Committee, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Justice Canada and Aboriginal groups and individuals gave evidence about Bill C-3 and how it would or would not address gender inequality under the registration provisions of the Indian Act in response to the McIvor case.

Most of the witnesses recommended amendments to the Bill as drafted. The Committee was struck by the unanimity of the witnesses on the point that Bill C-3 as originally drafted not only does not remedy gender inequality within the Indi…