Showing posts from June, 2010

Bill S-4 - Step Back In Time

The Senate is due to vote on Bill S-4 today (June 28). All indications say that it will pass despite nearly unanimous opposition to the Bill by First Nations and Aboriginal women's groups, then it has to go through the same process in the House once Parliament reconvenes in the fall. Hopefully, in the meantime, MPs will see the Bill for what it is: A Step Back in Time. Despite the fact that Prime Minister Harper has apologized for the assimilatory foundations upon which residential school policy was based, this draconian, paternalistic bill is being imposed on First Nations against their will and contrary to their constitutionally protected right to be self-determining. While I have many issues with the Bill, one aspect of the bill is clear evidence that Canada has reverted back to its paternalistic control over Indians as though they were once again wards of the state who must be controlled and assimilated. The verification officer is akin to the Indian agents which were slowly

Bill S-4 - Backdoor Assimilation and Land Grab

Bill S-4 relates to matrimonial real property on reserve after the breakup of a marriage or relationship. After a process of hearing from witnesses and deciding on potential amendments, the Senate will vote on the Bill today. Even if the Bill is passed, it must still go through the same process in the House. Given Parliament's summer schedule, it likely won't be addressed until the fall. That being said, there are numerous problems with Bill S-4. While some protections are important for those who divorce or no longer cohabitate, Bill S-4 represents backdoor assimilation - a key feature of the conservative government's agenda, well-informed by Tom Flanagan and his right-wing ideas. One particular issue of concern is that of the recent amendments which would allow courts to "consider" First Nation collective interests in divorce cases. The legality of Bill S-4 in disposing of constitutionally protected land rights in reserves have not been fully canvassed. In my opi

Letter to the editor re Manny's Mission to Disband Reserves

Re: article in Hamilton Spectator on June 10, 2010 re "Private property on reserves next frontier" Saturday, June 12, 2010 Dear editor; Your article which alleges that there is growing support for Aboriginal ownership is far from accurate. This is an initiative of Manny Jules from the Squamish band and has been incorporated into Bill C-24 First Nations Certainty of Land Title Act without ANY consultation with First Nations. Only he and a handful of other First Nations are in support of this idea. These are the same First Nations who have also advocated for other related legislative initiatives like the First Nations Land Management Act ( FNLMA ) and the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act ( FNCIDA ). Yet despite their claims, the VAST majority of First Nations have NOT signed on to their previous initiatives nor are the majority in support of dividing up reserves into fee simple lands. This is an assimilation plan by Tom Flanagan proposed in his new bo

Bill S-4 - An Empty Shell of a Legislative Promise

Bill S-4 is An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves. The short title is: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. The bill was introduced in the Senate in March 2010 and had its first reading on March 31, 2010. Its second reading was May 5, 2010 and it is currently before the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for study. This is the third time that this bill has been introduced. Its other two incarnations, were Bill C-8 and Bill C-47 both of which were opposed by Aboriginal peoples and both of which did not become law. Canada is now trying to pass what is referred to as MRP legislation (laws which deal with how to address property of the marriage after marriage breakdown) without consulting with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples impacted by the bill. Yesterday, I appeared as a witness before the Standing Senate Committee on Human Ri