Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, on May 19, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will be visiting the University of Saskatchewan .
As part of their trip to Saskatchewan in honour of our province's centennial, the royal couple will tour the Canadian Light Source synchrotron located on the University of Saskatchewan campus and will attend a reception hosted by the president of the university, Peter MacKinnon. The royal couple will also visit a school and attend Lieutenant-Governor Lynda Haverstock's centennial gala.
I would like to remind honourable senators of some of our history prior to 1905 from the First Nations perspective. In 1871, four years after the creation of the Dominion of Canada, the Canadian government negotiated the first of 11 numbered treaties in the West. The University of Saskatchewan , located in Saskatoon , is in the area covered by Treaty No. 6, signed in 1876. The Indian Act, also from 1876, provided a legal definition of who was an Indian.
Honourable senators, I am a member of the Gordon First Nation of Saskatchewan. My reserve is covered by Treaty No. 4, signed in 1874. My mother, Eva McNab, was sent to residential schools and was taught to be ashamed of her culture. In fact, she was taught to be ashamed of her own self.
On her marriage certificate she did not identify herself as an Indian, but instead she wrote "Scots." This was true to some extent because she did indeed have a Scottish grandfather who was a fur trader in the late 1800s.
I, too, was ashamed of being an Indian. I self-identified as being Chinese until 1981, when I obtained my Ph.D. With that degree, I thought that no one could look down on me anymore.
My father, Yok Leen Quan, was Chinese. He came to Canada in 1912, and he paid the head tax to do so. He had a wife and family in China in addition to his wife and family here. We were told that because he refused to disown his Chinese family, especially his firstborn son, he was not able to become a Canadian citizen until 1956, 44 years after he arrived in Canada .
Because my mother married a non-Indian, she was automatically disenfranchised -- that is, she was no longer considered to be an Indian person according to the Indian Act.
Until the passage of Bill C -31 in 1985, I could not be a status Indian and have treaty rights. Although Bill C-31 has allowed me to reclaim my Indian status, my son cannot do so. Only the first generation of children born to women who, like my mother, lost their Indian status can reclaim their Indian status. It is clear that Bill C-31 continues to discriminate against the families of women who lost their Indian status by marriage to non-Indians.
Honourable senators, in celebrating the centenary of the province of Saskatchewan --let us remember that the First Nations people of Saskatchewan, by entering into treaty agreements, allowed Saskatchewan to be settled and become home to non-First Nations peoples, and let us remember that gender equality for First Nations women has yet to be achieved under Canadian law.