Senators say the darndest things
Here, without comment, we offer you a snippet of a Senate committee last night, at which the topic of discussion was Bill C-3: "An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)"
Vim Kochhar, the first Indian-born person to be appointed to the Senate, seems to have some rather thought-provoking views on what identity means to aboriginal people, as well as some thoughts on where "pure" Indians come from. (Senator Brazeau is an aboriginal Canadian.) Let's let the transcript speak for itself.
The Chair: I wanted a distinction made between inherent right to self‑government, citizenship and band issues and the McIvor case, which is about registration in the Indian Act. If all the resources and engagement are going to solve every problem of discrimination, this little problem with the Indian Act, which we have passed on division, may get lost in the huge shuffle that will have to happen.
Senator Kochhar: I do not want to sound ignorant, but it is really not about recognition; it is about getting money. People who are registered get extra money. It is about obtaining money.
Senator Jaffer: No, senator. It is about who you are. It is your identity. It is not about money.
Senator Kochhar: If you take the money out, identity will disappear.
Senator Jaffer: No, senator. It is about having your identity, about who you are.
Senator Kochhar: Thank you, Chair and panel. Ms. McIvor, I admire your courage and passion to continue your fight, but there is absolutely no bill that is a perfect bill. I have not seen one yet. Most bills get compromised to please the many sides for whom the bill is drafted.
In the very beginning, you said Bill C‑3 is a piece of garbage. In your opinion, how far do you think you can go? I do not mean the gender equality here. How far do you think your status can go?
Senator Brazeau is my mentor when it comes to Indian affairs, although I am more pure Indian than he is. Having said all that, I want to know how far you think the status should go. If a pure Indian marries a non‑Indian; then that non‑Indian marries another non‑Indian; and that non‑Indian marries another non‑Indian, how far do you think you can take the status?