Who should qualify for indigenous benefits?
It seems that our indigenous population is increasing by leaps and bounds. it seems that back in the day, the federal government made the decision that an indigenous female who married a non indigenous male would lose her treaty rights. The bands took this one step further and said they could no longer live on the reservations as well. If, however, an indigenous male married a non-indigenous female, he did not lose his treaty rights. In 1985, Bill-C31 was enacted to rectify this state of affairs. The onus was on the female to prove her case, which for some became a hardship, because of lack of funds to pursue their case. Also there was still bias in the male favour since his offsprings had no problem claiming status, the female’s offspring’s did not qualify in the same manner. Bill-C3 was passed to correct this inequity, but actually continues the discrimination. Grand children born before 1951, who come down through the maternal line do not get status, while a paternal line would qualify. Justice Murray Sinclair is working to correct this situation and I applaud his efforts. I do wonder though about the fact that some people who should not qualify can do so with ease. An example is my former sonin-law whose mother registered him in her former husbands name, who had status - which would have qualified him to apply. To his credit he never did because he knew his real father was not an indigenous person. I have also read that there are thousands who are applying who have no proof to indigenous blood. The fact is that the government could be on the hook for millions of dollars of taxpayers money to satisfy these claims. So what do we do to weed out the unqualified, who are by hookor-crook going to try to get on the gravy train. My solution would be to do a DNA test on people who are applying to see how much indigenous blood they actually have. I would think the cutoff should be below 25 per cent. I have no problem with the government satisfying legal claims, but do worry about the scammers. Walter Jones column appears weekly in the Amherst News.