More must be done to dismantle the lasting effects of colonialism

March 15, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recently issued a decision in favour of Mr. Jeremy Matson, who had filed a petition alleging that registration provisions of the Indian Act violated his rights and those of his children. Following the decision, CHRC issues the following statement:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission congratulates Mr. Matson on this important decision. We applaud his perseverance in combatting discrimination for over a decade as his case wound its way through national and international human rights justice systems.

Mr. Matson's case is about his identity and desire to pass that identity to future generations. As found in the CEDAW decision, preventing Mr. Matson from transmitting his status to his children is discrimination. It is up to Indigenous peoples through their own customs and laws to decide how to identify themselves. This right is enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Commission welcomes the Government of Canada’s recent commitment to introduce new legislation by summer 2022 to amend the registration provisions of the Indian Act. We encourage Canada to consider the CEDAW decision when making these legislative changes.

Advancing human rights relies heavily on human rights defenders who stand up for what they believe is right. Mr. Matson and countless other individuals and organizations others have worked tirelessly to dismantle the lasting effects of colonialism in whatever form they take.

As Canada implements the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Government of Canada must actively root out the enduring colonialism and systemic racism that are still woven into the fabric of far too many of the laws and policies that underpin our society.


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