Opinion

Brazeau challenges Trudeau to ‘live up to his narrative about reconciliation’ by eliminating sex-based inequities in Indian Act

In the wake of the prime minister's controversial comments about him to Rolling Stone magazine, Independent Senator Patrick Brazeau is urging Justin Trudeau to support legislation eliminating differences in Indigenous registration based on sex, regardless of birth year.

Independent Senator Patrick Brazeau, pictured in this file photo on the Hill, is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to move past his controversial Rolling Stone comments about him and support an effort by the Senate to eliminate sex-based discrepancies under the Indian Act for all Indigenous peoples. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 4:27 PM

You may have heard about some controversial remarks made by the prime minister about me in Rolling Stone magazine. In the article he referred to me as “Indigenous” which is true, and “scrappy,” which, if ever true, is becoming less so with advancing years. The most important outcome of our boxing match is that, together, we raised a lot of money for cancer research.

So, I hold no ill will towards the prime minister about those Rolling Stone comments and I would challenge him to live up to his narrative about reconciliation.

Sometimes you hear people saying that the relationship between First Nations and mainstream Canadians will take “generations” to fix. You often hear that there are no easy solutions. That is false and leads to paralysis and stonewalling.

Take a look at Bill S-3—An Act to amend the Indian Act. This bill aims to remove the sex-based inequalities from the Indian Act. The bill would give children born to women the same rights to their heritage as children with Indigenous fathers from 1951 onward.

  

An important amendment has been proposed that would eliminate the sex-based inequities in registration in their entirety, not limiting the equality only to the children born to women since 1951.

The prime minister likes to talk about principles and equality. That is part of his narrative. It is his “right story to tell.” But is this all talk and no action?

The refusal to remove all the sexism as requested in the amendment affects two of my children directly. I have been told that, due to the delay in the passage of the bill, my son cannot expect to be granted his status for one to two years. My youngest daughter would never receive her status. My family’s story is only one of the many who are directly and deeply affected by the prime minister’s action—or inaction —on this file.

For First Nations people, our status is primary. Just as a mainstream Canadians cherish their passport or citizenship papers, we cherish our status. It is a part of who we are. Our status connects us to our communities. And as the demographics of Canada change over the years, our status is something that keeps us strongly connected to who we are.

  

I challenge to prime minister to move on from his Rolling Stone comments and to turn his attention back to S-3, back to his stated beliefs in fairness and justice. I ask him to be a champion for equality rather than just talking about being one.

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The Hill Times