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TheGlobeandMail.com – Opinion
Jun. 23, 2017. TOM FLANAGAN

Tom Flanagan is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary and author of the Fraser Institute paper Incentives, Identity, and the Growth of Canada’s Indigenous Population.

In the wake of the newly named National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is worth reflecting on how the feminist movement is affecting the character of the Indigenous population. Under the Indian Act, membership in Indian bands, now called First Nations, was originally passed down through the male line; Indian women who “married out” lost their Indian status and their children were ineligible to become legal Indians.

Following the 1970 report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women , the status quo came under heavy assault. A series of legal changes restored Indian status to tens of thousands of women and their children and grandchildren. Through Bill S-3 , the Trudeau government is proposing to enable the registration of all Indian women and their descendants who have lost status since 1951, when the Indian Register was created. However, the Senate’s aboriginal people’s committee recently amended the bill to push the date back to the first Indian Act (1876), a change the government says it will not accept.

Regardless of how this tussle ends, the combination of legislation and litigation will almost certainly continue to grant Indian status to ever greater numbers of people, and not only because of feminism. One of the largest First Nations in Canada is the recently recognized Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation of Newfoundland. Other so-called “landless bands” are also struggling for recognition.

The logic of these developments is to allow anyone who can demonstrate any degree of Indian ancestry to apply for registration, that is, to receive legal Indian status. We are not there yet, but things are clearly moving that […]

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