KAHNAWAKE RESIDENTS WHO ARE VICTIMS OF DISCRIMINATION CAN FILE COMPLAINTS UNDER THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Montreal, June 10, 2015 — Residents of the Mohawk Community of Kahnawake who are threatened with expulsion, denial of band membership and its attendant benefits, and other negative treatment because their partners are non-Mohawk, or because they are children of bi-racial (Mohawk or non-Aboriginal) couples, can file discrimination complaints under the Canadian Human Rights (CHRA).
In 2008, after extensive consultations with First Nations, Parliament amended the CHRA to extend the scope of its provisions to areas governed by the Indian Act, such as election and membership codes. To allow First Nations governments and other institutions to adapt to the principles and requirements of the CHRA, a three-year transition period was granted before the amendments were to take effect.
As of June 2011, the CHRA fully applies to all First Nations governments and communities. Therefore acts of discrimination and harassment based on prohibited grounds such as race, gender, ethnic or national origin, disability and family status are illegal. Victims of discrimination can file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and claim material, moral and other damages (up to $40,000), as well as non-monetary remedies, the object of which is to end and prevent discrimination.
Many individuals living in Kahnawake are facing expulsion or the denial of education and health services (including adequate protection by public security services), benefits and other entitlements (including the right to own or rent a home, to vote, and to run for public office). They face this simply because they are married to non-Aboriginals or are children of biracial couples who cannot be registered on the band membership list (also known as C-31 children, named after the 1985 law that restored Aboriginal status and rights mostly to women who marry non-Aboriginal men).
These individuals are encouraged to avail themselves of protections of the CHRA, and ultimately, the Equality Clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
CRARR is available to assist victims of discrimination based on race, ethnic or national origin, family status and gender in Kahnawake who wish to seek protection under the CHRA and other applicable laws.