Law Aimed at Improving the Rights of Aboriginal women and Their Families Comes into Force
December 16, 2014 – Ottawa, ON – Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Today, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced the coming into force of the provisional federal rules of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. The implementation of the second phase of the Act will provide women and families living on reserve with access to the same matrimonial rights and protections that all other Canadians have.
Pursuant to the Act, judges will be able to issue emergency protection orders, remove violent partners from the family home, and hear cases utilizing First Nations’ own matrimonial real property laws that respect their culture and traditions once those laws are enacted within the provisions provided.
The Act will also continue to provide a mechanism for First Nations to develop their own matrimonial real property laws. First Nations may enact community-specific matrimonial real property laws at anytime pursuant to the Act.
As soon as a First Nation enacts its own laws, the provisional federal rules in the Act will no longer apply. The Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property is in place to assist First Nation communities with the understanding and application of the new Act and to guide First Nations who are opting to develop their own matrimonial real property laws.
Closing this legislative gap followed years of engaging in studies, education, information and consultation with national Aboriginal organizations, First Nations and First Nations organizations and individuals.
The Harper Government remains deeply committed to further protecting the rights of Aboriginal people, particularly women and children living on reserves. With this law, our Government is taking concrete steps to ensure the equitable distribution of real property assets in the event of death, divorce or separation.
- The Act received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013, and the first element of the Act came into force on December 16, 2013.
- A 12-month transition period was added to the legislation to provide some time for First Nations to enact their own laws before the federal rules take effect.
- First Nations will still be able to develop and enact their own matrimonial real property laws at any time now that the federal rules are in force. Once First Nations enact their own matrimonial real property law under the Act, the provisional federal rules will no longer apply to their community.
- For First Nations under self-government or under First Nations Land Management Regime, the law will be enforced according to the law enacted by the First Nations.
“I am proud that our Government is taking concrete action to ensure that women and families living on reserve have similar rights and protections as other Canadians. This law is about giving basic rights and equitable division of assets, in the case of abusive relationships or separation.”
– Bernard Valcourt
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
“Our Government is committed to standing up for the rights of Canadian women and girls, including Aboriginal women. This law is another example of how we’re empowering women and their families on reserves by ensuring they have access to the same basic legal protections that are applicable to all Canadians.”
– Kellie Leitch
Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women
“Safety includes being able to stay in the family home and not be forced to move off-reserve due to situations of domestic violence. These are important protections that many Canadians take for granted but have been a long time coming for First Nations women and children. The recognition of First Nations government authority to develop strong and clear policies around safety for victims of domestic violence holds promise for a better future, and I hope real collaboration will continue in British Columbia and Canada.”
– Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond,
B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth
Office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
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