Gender Based Analysis and Bill C 7

September 4, 2003

Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, Inc.
630 Westminster Avenue, Winnipeg MB R3C 3S1
Tel: (204) 992-2751 Fax: (204) 783-3882

The Hon. Robert Nault
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Room 407, West Block

The Hon. Jean Augustine
Secretary of State for Status of Women
Room 583, Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
September, 2003

Dear Ministers:
In December 2002, PCWM first requested from Indian Affairs, by e-mail and telephone, a gender based analysis (GBA) of Bill C-7, the First Nations Governance Act. Similar telephone requests were made of Status of Women staff. Receiving no acknowledgement or response in the next three months, led us to the conclusion that no GBA had been done. It was not until after the National and Manitoba Councils of Women had recommended to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs at a public hearing 19 March 2003, a GBA be conducted that we learned such an analysis had indeed been done.

A formal Access to Information request for the analysis was made 28 March 2003. After 30 days, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) advised it would need an additional 120 days to provide the information. Near the expiry of this extension, on 21 August 2003, only 19 out of a possible 46 pages of GBA documents were received. Many of the 19 pages were further censored. In addition, among excluded pages from the Gender Equality Analysis were the Executive Summary and four pages covering “Impact on Gender Equality” and “Potential Gender-Specific Concerns”.

The lack of response to early inquiries, the delays and resulting limited disclosures are unacceptable to PCWM. It is particularly outrageous that the Executive Summary and four pages from the Gender Equality Analysis covering “Impact on Gender Equality” and “Potential Gender- Specific Concerns” have been entirely censored.

For members of the public to adequately address the gender issues raised by Bill C-7, a matter so vital to Aboriginal Peoples and aboriginal women in particular, candid and timely sharing of information is essential. Not only is a GBA central to properly advising and informing decision- makers, non-partisan citizen input is considerably devalued and trivialized by the withholding of such material prepared pursuant to federal government policy generally and INAC policy in particular*.

The Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba strives consistently to examine its policy and its recommendations on substantial matters concerning the quality of life for women with the most thorough and up-to-date research available. We are a federate member of the National Council of Women of Canada, an organization that has been promoting women’s equality and the needs of families since 1893. Further information about the National Council is available on the web-site at www.ncwc.ca

It can be noted here the progress that has been made generally by the Federal Government in the area of a research model for GBA, under the leadership of the Department of the Status of Women. However, the results must surely be placed in the public domain if they are to inform the public and decision-makers.

It is, therefore, in the public interest and particularly in the interests of aboriginal women that PCWM respectfully urges the Ministers to release immediately the complete gender equality analysis of Bill C-7, including all analysis of the effect on women and girls of removing section 67 of the Canada Human Rights Act.

Any correspondence on this matter should be directed to the above address.

Yours sincerely,

Norma Buchan,
Vice-President

* “The policy of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development on Gender Equality Analysis requires that Gender-Equality Analysis be integrated in all DIAND’s work.” Gender Equality Analysis Policy, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1999.
c.c.
Raymond Bonin, M.P., Chairman and Members House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
Senator Thelma Chalifoux
Senator Pat Carney
Senator Shirley Maheu
Senator Sharon Carstairs
Senator Landon Pearson
Information Commissioner of Canada
Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Manitoba
President, Native Women’s Association of Canada
President, National Aboriginal Womens’ Association
President, National Council of Women of Canada
Mother of Red Nations (Manitoba)
Other interested parties

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