1985 INDIAN ACT AMENDMENT
Before 1985 many Band membership provisions in the Act were gender discriminatory and caused a great deal of suffering among Indian women who had married non-Indians. Under these provisions First Nations women who married non-Indians lost their status as Indians, but non-First Nations women who married First Nations men were given Indian status. By enacting these discriminatory provisions the government of Canada assumed the right to assign racial status by deciding who was or was not an Indian.
Native women, supported by many men, fought a prolonged battle to have these sections repealed; they won when Bill C-31, an Act to amend the Indian Act, made retroactive to April 17, 1985, was given Royal Assent in June 1985. This amendment also repealed many other archaic sections of the Act and provided for the reinstatement of those who had been unilaterally removed from Band Lists and the Indian Register. Most of the women and their children who had lost their status under the former discriminatory provisions of the Act have now been reinstated to the Indian Register and, where appropriate, had their names reinstated on Band Lists. Non-Indian women who marry Registered Indians are no longer registered.