The Federal Government of Canada has imposed the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act upon First Nations without obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent from rights holders as well as failing to provide adequate guaranteed or statuary-based funding to meet the legislative standards. Under-funding of First Nation communities and their respective organizations remains a practice of the federal government, which places communities at risk of running deficits or unable to meet the needs of their citizens. In response to the imposition of this legislation, the AIAI General Assembly passed resolution 08/14 which called for: the rejection of all federal legislation that does not comply with rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International standards on Free, Prior and Informed Consent; and further calls on the Government of Canada to uphold its fiduciary obligations by providing the required funding to effectively implement the imposed legislation.
The absence of First Nations rights and interest to matrimonial real property on-reserves was a recognized gap within the Canadian legal framework. In order to remedy this legislative gap, the federal government established the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013. This Act aims to ensure that families living in First Nation communities have access to similar matrimonial rights as those living outside of their respective communities.
Throughout the legislative process, the federal government has been criticized for ignoring First Nations jurisdiction to exercise their existing customary laws that address issues relating to matrimonial real property. From this perspective the legislation gap as purported by the federal government, was caused by none other than the oppressive nature of the institutionalized practices of the colonial government. Correcting their discriminatory practices has led to the further oppression of First Nation peoples to assert their inherent jurisdiction over their citizens and territory.
Since the imposition of this legislation First Nations have maintained the following positions:
- The consultation process was inadequate
- Provincial courts do not have the needed knowledge nor do they possess the capacity to make determinations about real property on reserves.
- The necessary supports have not been provided for First Nations to engage in lawmaking or to exercise federally recognized jurisdiction in this area.
To remedy these issues, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians has taken the following measures:
- Sent correspondence to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to make note of our grievances as it relates to the inadequate consultation process and their failure to provide the necessary resources to fulfill the legislative requirements.
- Informed the Ministry of the Attorney General for the Province of Ontario our general concerns and looking to schedule a meeting to address additional issues that may arise from enactment of the provisional laws.
Overview: Federal Legislation
According to the federal government, the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act enables First Nation communities to develop Matrimonial Real Property laws that are culturally appropriate to meet the interests of their community.
In the absence of MRP laws, First Nation communities are subject to the Federal Provisional Laws, which took effect on December 16, 2014. The provisional laws will remain in effect until the First Nation has successfully ratified their own MRP laws, through a voting process.
- The Association has partnered with the Centre of Excellence on Matrimonial Real Property to provide training on their MRP toolkit and offered further insight on the potential challenges in developing our community MRP laws. This two-day workshop was held on January 28 &29, 2014 in our member community Hiawatha.
- Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property
- Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Name: Geoff Stonefish
Phone: 519.434.2761 ext. 225