Political involvement of indigenous women in Quebec


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Héloïse, Maertens et Basile, Suzy (2022). Political involvement of indigenous women in Quebec. Repéré dans Depositum à https://depositum.uqat.ca/id/eprint/1515 (Non publié)

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In pre-colonial Canada, the traditional governance systems of Indigenous Peoples were based on cooperation, autonomy, complementarity and inter-connectedness (Wesley-Esquimaux, 2009). With respect to Indigenous women in particular, they were autonomous and held key positions within Indigenous governance systems. The introduction of colonial policies disrupted their roles (Basile, 2017). The introduction of the Indian Act of 1876 shut out women from any political activities within their communities, and forbade them from seeking office, voting or even speaking at public meetings (Anderson, 2009; Voyageur, 2011). The objective was to relegate them to the domestic space, like European women, and to erase their power in the social and political organization as well as in local and territorial governance (Anderson, 2009).
The Indian Act also ensured that Indigenous women who married non-status men lost their Indian status and property rights on the reserve. The same applied to children born of these unions. On the contrary, a white or non-native woman obtained Indian status by marrying a status man (Simpson, 2016). The provision of this law regarding the transmission of status had a clear objective of assimilation. Indeed, Indigenous women play a key role in the transmission of language, culture and values (Basile et al., 2017) so isolating women and their children for their community of belonging and culture aimed at progressively decreasing community populations and accelerating the
assimilation of Indigenous peoples into colonial society. The political mobilization of Indigenous women is marked by multiple efforts, struggles and demands to recover their status. In 1974 alone, two associations for the defence of Indigenous women’s rights were created, namely the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and the Quebec Native Women (QNW) on the provincial level. The Indian Act was finally amended in 1985, giving bands the right to create their own membership codes and allowing Indigenous women to regain the status they had lost through marriage to non- Indigenous men.
As far as the involvement of Indigenous women in politics, after they gained the right to participate in elections in 1951, there were only seven women chiefs and 107 women Councillors out of 557 bands in Canada in 1964 (Séguin, 1981). The Indian Act has had the effect of valuing and increasing men’s roles in the governance, economic and cultural life of communities, while women’s participation in these areas has been diminished and devalued (Barker, 2008). In this way, male domination within band councils was eventually normalized and legitimized.
Today, the situation seems to be changing. In 2020, in Indigenous communities in Quebec, there were 80 female Councillors out of 236 (34%) and six female chiefs out of 40 (15%) (CIRNAC, 2020) . To the best of our knowledge, there is only one Indigenous woman mayor of a municipality in Quebec, Senneterre-Paroisse in Abitibi-
Témiscamingue (Poulin, 2021). By way of comparison, in 2017, women represented 26% of elected women in the House of Commons (Canada), 27% in the National Assembly (Quebec) and 32% at the Quebec municipal level (Assemblée nationale du Québec, 2018; HillNotes, 2019; UMQ, 2017).
This research stems from the fact that there is little literature available on the place of Indigenous women in past and present Indigenous governance structures in Quebec. While some authors have examined the experiences and the reasons why Indigenous women enter politics, these studies are over a decade old and have been conducted primarily in Western Canada. In general, there has been little interest in Indigenous women’s experiential knowledge to date and this research aims at contributing to the reclaiming of this knowledge (Gentelet, 2009; Smith, 2021).

Type de document: Rapport de recherche
Informations complémentaires: Rapport de recherche
Mots-clés libres: Political, involvement, Indigenous women, Quebec
Divisions: Chaires de recherche > Chaire de recherche du Canada sur les enjeux relatifs aux femmes autochtones
Date de dépôt: 01 nov. 2023 13:32
Dernière modification: 04 déc. 2023 15:40
URI: https://depositum.uqat.ca/id/eprint/1515

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