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Women's Rights Questioned

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1971      v02 n08 p04  
The right of an Indian woman to retain her treaty rights has received mixed reaction across Canada.

The case of Jeannette Corbiere Lavell in the Federal court of Canada ruled that "the Indian Act offends the right of such an Indian woman to equality before the law".

It was the first time a Canadian court has applied the 11-year-old Bill of Rights to the issue of sexual equality.

Mrs. Lavell, an Ojibwa, appealed her case after Judge Ben Grossberg resued in June to order the federal government to reinstate her as a member of the band.

She was removed from the band list in December, 1970 following her marriage, April. 1, 1970, to David Lavell, 26. a student at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto.

Her appeal was heard by a three-man panel of the federal appeal court - Chief Justice W. R. Jackett and Justices Louis Tratte and A. L. Thurlow.

In replying to the results of this case both Chief Dave Ahenakew and George, Manuel of the National Indian Brotherhood stated that the courts of Canada have no right to decide who is to be an Indian. The decision lies with the Chief and band council of the reserve.

Harold Cardinal Chief of the Indian Association of Alberta, stated that, the case raised three important points. First there is the land question: "does the woman's husband have the right to move on to our already crowded reserves; second, what is the status of the children from this marriage?; third, how far back will this decision be put into effect?

Jean Chretien, Minister, of Indian Affairs, stated that his department would appeal the court's decision.