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Government is ensuring fairness and improving lives on reserves

By: Blake Richards

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 12:18 pm

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When raised in a home marked by abuse, it is difficult for a child to reach his or her full potential unless that cycle of violence is broken. Sadly, family violence is still a fact of life in too many homes.

On First Nations reserves, a hole in decades-old legislation left women particularly vulnerable.

Our federal government took action to help those families by approving Bill S-2, which provides Canadians living on reserves with the same matrimonial rights as those living off reserves.

This is important, because without key matrimonial rights for women, their husbands were legally able to sell the home without his wife’s consent and keep all of the proceeds. He could also bar his spouse from the home.

Perhaps worst of all, the courts were unable to order his removal, even in the event of domestic violence and abuse.

It is unacceptable that such abuse could continue because families living on First Nation reserves lacked the same legal rights as other Canadians.

I am proud to be a part of the government that put an end to this situation when Bill S-2 came into force on Dec. 16, 2013.

Another step we are committed to taking for children on reserves is to ensure they have access to the same quality of education available to other Canadian students. Again, this requires our government to make legal changes.

We have drafted a First Nations Education Act, with the goal of guaranteeing minimum standards, respecting First Nation language and culture, and providing stable, predictable and sustainable funding. This draft proposal is currently being shared with First Nations across Canada.

However, we know that students, teachers, parents and chiefs all recognize the need for change, and progress is essential.

Since 2006, our government has built and renovated more than 260 First Nations schools; increased funding for First Nations elementary and secondary education programming, expanded budgets for operation, maintenance and repairs, and increased funding for child and family services by 25 per cent. With our proposed First Nations Education Act, we are taking major strides for students on reserve.

Protecting kids from family violence and providing them with the opportunity to succeed:

These are goals worthy of our country, and a key part of our government’s agenda in 2014.


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