Friendship Centres to host forums, compile information for report to government

By Angela Brown
January 22, 2019 - 4:25pm Updated: January 22, 2019 - 8:17pm

Friendship Centres in the region will hold community forums this week to raise awareness about the issue of gender discrimination and encourage people to apply for their Indian Status card.

The Let's Talk about Gender Discrimination in the Indian Act and Bill S-3 sessions are planned for Meadow Lake and North Battleford, among other locations in the area. The forum and feast are organized by the Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan.

“It will allow more people to (achieve) status registration,” Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan Program Manager Alicia Buckley said.

Issues on the agenda include inequalities within the Indian Act, Indian Status registration, the responsibility of band membership and recommendations for the Government of Canada.

Buckley, who is based in Saskatoon, said the federal government is working on a proposed amendment to the Indian Act to allow more people to apply for their Indian Status registration.

“There are a lot of issues that have been taken into account, that have been addressed in this bill,” she added. “We’re coming out to communities and trying to provide a little more information, and also gather input on the second part of the amendment called the collaborative process.”

Buckley said community engagement plays a large part in the process. Representatives will take note of any issues raised during the forums as well, such as whether people have had any difficulties in obtaining their Indian Status, or band membership, as an example.

On the matter of gender, she said there is a great deal of discrimination in the Indian Act. As a result, many women and their children and descendants were not granted status. 

Once compiled, the comprehensive report will be delivered to Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Meadow Lake Friendship Centre forum will take place Wednesday while The Battlefords Indian and Métis Friendship Centre event will be held Thursday. Both run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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