NVITEA President wins major court battle

The President of Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Employees' Association, Sharon McIvor, has won an important legal victory in the BC Supreme Court. On June 11, 2007 the court released its decision on an application first made by Ms. McIvor in July 1990.

In its decision, the B.C. Supreme Court wiped out one of the most contentious aspects of the federal Indian Act, striking down part of Ottawa's definition of a status Indian and opening the door to hundreds of thousands of new applications for native services.

The court rejected part of the existing legal definition on the grounds that it discriminates against Canadians who trace their aboriginal roots through their female relatives rather than their father or grandfather.

The ruling alters the federal law that has long created two classes of aboriginals in Canada: the 767,000 who fit the definition of status Indian and the several hundred thousand more who don't.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Ms. McIvor noted that the decision will have a significant impact: "Conservatively, we're looking at probably 200,000 people [who could now qualify for status that did not before the ruling]," she said. Before contact with Europeans, many native tribes operated under matrilineal power structures in which women were the community leaders. After Confederation, male-dominated rules were imposed on those communities through the Indian Act that meant only men could pass along native status.

Click here to read the reasons for judgement from the BC Supreme Court Decision.

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About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.