First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

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OTTAWA — Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says First Nations women will finally be treated the same as men under the Indian Act.

Bennett says First Nations women and their descendants will be able to obtain equal status and category of membership as the First Nations men and their descendants.

She says that past provisions within the Indian Act meant women lost their status when they married non-Indigenous men while men who married non-Indigenous women kept their status.

The government says it has now brought provisions into force that allow registration by descendants born before April 17, 1985, who lost their status or were removed from band lists due to marriages to non-Indian men.

Registration affords First Nations individuals federal benefits and services, including access to post-secondary education funding and non-insured health benefits.

Parliament passed the Indian Act in 1876, giving the federal government enormous power over the control of registered First Nations people, bands and the reserve system.