Feds look to modify Indian Act with Bill C 38

By Marc Lalonde

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Up to 3,500 more people could qualify for Indigenous status if the government follows through on its new Bill C-38, which would modify sections of the Indian Act, the federal government said last week.

The introduction of these legislative amendments to the Indian Act seeks to address four areas, including enfranchisement, individual deregistration, natal band reaffiliation and membership, as well as outdated and offensive language related to dependent persons.

Federal Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu said a consultation in early 2023 will help the government shape the law.

“As we work in partnership with First Nations to right the wrongs of the past, this step is an important one. We know there is so much more to do, and we will soon launch a co-developed consultation in early 2023 to address other areas like the second-generation cut-off,” she said. “I look forward to doing this important work with partners and parliamentarians as we continue to address colonial laws and structures.”

Bill C-38 would seek to ensure First Nation individuals with family histories of enfranchisement are entitled to registration under the Indian Act and can pass on this entitlement to descendants to the same degree as those without family histories of entitlement.

“Eliminating gender-based discrimination is ongoing and requires sustained effort,” Hajdu said. “Bill C-38 proposes amendments to the Indian Act that responds to rights holders and legal action taken against the federal government related to enfranchisement, individual deregistration, natal band membership, as well as outdated and offensive language related to dependent persons.”

The changes to the Indian Act are an offshoot of public consultations held in 2018 and 2019, where input was received from over 650 participants, representing 395 First Nation communities and/or governments.

The conclusion was that Canada should work with First Nations to proactively address issues related to registration and band membership provisions of the Indian Act.

Marc Lalonde is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the IORI:WASE

The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.

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