Aboriginal Women Unmasked: Using Equality Litigation to Advance Women's Rights


From the Author's Abstract:

"Aboriginal women in Canada do not enjoy rights equal to those shared by other Canadians. Since 1869, colonialist and patriarchal federal laws-most notably the Indian Act-have fostered patriarchy in Aboriginal communities and subjected Aboriginal women to loss of Indian status and the benefits of band membership, eviction from reserve homes, and denial of an equal share of matrimonial property. Colonialism and patriarchy have also enabled cooperation between male Aboriginal leadership and Canadian governments to resist the inclusion of Aboriginal women in Aboriginal governance. These denials and exclusions perpetuate the exposure of Aboriginal women and their children to violence and consign many to extreme poverty. Since 1969, Aboriginal women have turned to the courts to advance their sex equality rights. This article reviews legal challenges brought under the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international human rights instruments. Drawing on her own struggle to have her children accorded Indian status, the author highlights discriminatory provisions that persist in Bill C-31. Finally, she discusses cases brought by Aboriginal, Inuit, and Métis women's organizations to recognize their right to participate in shaping policies and programs directed at them. Many claims have not succeeded, but the act of bringing legal challenges has itself facilitated political organizing and negotiation to achieve positive change. Litigation for equal rights is not a last resort, but an empowering element of the broad political, social, and legal struggle to eradicate sex discrimination against Aboriginal women." (106-107).

Publication Information

McIvor, Sharon Donna. "Aboriginal Women Unmasked: Using Equality Litigation to Advance Women's Rights." Can. J. Women & L. 16 (2004): 106-136.

McIvor, Sharon Donna
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