Background Paper: Bill C-31, Equality or Disparity? The Effects of the New Indian Act on Native Women


A 1987 background paper prepared for the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women/ Conseil consultatif canadien de la situation de la femme. The paper explores the impact of Bill C-31 on Indigenous women and covers issues including the history of discrimination under the old Indian Acts, the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the lives of native women; and the meaning of having status. Concerns regarding gaps in the new legislation, difficulties in applying for status, family unity, and equality for native women are explored. The report concludes that although blatant discrimination against Indian women has been removed from the Act, the effects of that discrimination persist and new areas of inequality arise.