Lesson 9 - Indigenous Women



Agokwa An Anishinaabe term for a cross-gender person meaning "like a woman," that is, someone taking on the roles and duties of a woman. (Reference)
Bédard v. Isaac Bédard v Isaac (1972) dealt with Irene Bédard not being able to return to her reserve after having lost her Indian Status through marriage to a nonStatus Indian man. It argued that the this loss of status unfairly impacted Indian women. The case went to the Supreme Court, where it was ultimately rejected.
Corbiere v. Canada Corbiere v Canada appealed the decision of Lavell v Canada in the Federal Court of Appeal. They argued that the judge's ruling, that Status Indian women losing their status if they married a non-Status Indian man did not constitute a violation of the Bill of Rights, was in error. The Court of Appeal agreed with Corbiere however in 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal.
Cross-gendered Also known as transgendered, this term reflects the idea that there is a spectrum of genders, more so than the gender binary of female/male.
"Double mother clause" This clause in Bill C-31 mandated that the great-grandchildren of Status Indian women who married non-Status men would not be considered Status Indians themselves. This was not the case for great-grandchildren of Status Indian men who "married out." The double mouther clause still unfairly impacted Indian women.
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act The Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act (2011), or "Bill C-3" restored Indian Status to those who lost it through the "double mother clause" established in Bill C-31 in 1985. (Reference)
Gender identity Refers to how an individual perceives their gender as male, female, or somewhere in between or outside of that binary. Some cultures view gender as being limited to being either male or female, but in other cultures, gender is seen as much more fluid.
Gender roles Gender roles are the culturally defined duties and responsibilities that people are expected to carry out depending on their gender identity. Gender roles in Indigenous cultures were traditionally pretty clearly defined, and men and women would have different responsibilities to carry out within their communities.
Gender variance Gender variance is a concept used to refer to the cultural construction of multiple genders. Multiple genders and a wide variance of gender roles existed in many tribal societies and communities.
Heemaneh A Cheyenne term for a cross-gender or third gender person who takes on the roles and duties of a woman. (Reference)
Heteropatriarchy Heteropatriarchy is the combination of heterosexuality and patriarchy, where the superiority of patriarchal beliefs and heterosexuality are seen as the norm.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights A United Nations document outlining individuals' rights based in equality and the dignity of the human person. Canada was found in contravention of Article 27 of the Covenant in Lovelace v Canada (1981) due to the Indian Act provision that stripped Status Indian women of their status in the event that they married a nonStatus Indian man. (Reference)
Iñupiat Iñupiat are an Inuit Indigenous people whose territories encompass much of what is now Alaska, U.S. (Reference)
Lavell v. Canada Lavell v Canada (1971) was an important case as it disputed the Indian Act's patriarchal provision of taking away the Status of Indian women if they married a non-Status Indian man. Although this Lavell eventually lost in the Federal Court of Appeal, it was an important moment in time. Lavell challenged the Indian Act provision claiming it was a form of gender discrimination and that it violated the Bill of Rights.
Lovelace v. Canada Lovelace v Canada (1981) was a Human Rights Tribunal case brought by Sandra Lovelace, a Maliseet women from Tobique, New Brunswick. The Human Rights Committee found that Canada was in violation of its Bill of Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the Indian Act provision that stripped Status Indian women of their status if they married a non-Status Indian man. This represented a huge win for Status Indian women. (Reference)
Matriarchy The term matriarchy describes a society where women hold the positions of leadership.
McIvor Case The "McIvor Case," or McIvor v. The Registrar, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1985) sought to address discriminatory aspects of the Indian Act, to give band control over band membership, and to restore Indian Status to those who lost it through marriage. This case eventually led to Bill C-31, which while a major victory, did not address all of the injustices of gender discrimination in the Indian Act. (Reference)
Nádleeh Nádleeh is a Navajo word for a person with an unclear physical description of being male or female. The first part ná translates to being continuous. The Navajo origin story relates how the very first people born were hermaphrodite twins, who have undetermined sexes, this story becomes the entire basis for understanding the spiritual role and high status of the nádleeh. This person was highly regarded in Navajo society, and was often an integral part of ceremonies and other events.
Niizh manitoag A Northern Algonquin word that literally means "two-spirits." It refers to the presence of both masculine and feminine traits within a person. It's contemporary usage refers to cross-gender and non-heterosexual Indigenous people.
Nuxalk (Bella Coola) people The Nuxalk, or Bella Coola are Indigenous people whose territotries are located in the central coastal region of British Columbia, Canada. (Reference)
Patriarchy The term patriarchy describes societies that are male dominated. In a patriarchal system, men hold the positions of power in political, spiritual, and domestic spheres.
Pocahontas Pocahontas was the daughter of the chief of the Powhatan tribe and encountered the English at Jamestown in 1607. Many different stories have circulated about Pocahontas and John Smith, an English captain, however some of these stories, as well as the 1995 Disney movie, have led to her being perceived as a sexualized "Indian princess." This pervasive Pocahontas stereotype is ultimately harmful for Indigenous women. (Reference)
Process of racialization The process whereby certain groups of people are ascribed race or ethnicity in order to naturalize inferior/superior status. The term highlights that race is a socially constructed phenomenon, rather than a biologically-based set of characteristics. (Reference)
Tainna wa'ippe A Shoshone term for a cross-gender person meaning "man-woman," that is, someone taking on the roles and duties of a woman. (Reference)
The Charlottetown Accord The Charlottetown Accord (1992) was an attempt by the federal government to obtain Québec's consent to the Constitution Act 1982. This involved consultation and negotiations with Aboriginal peoples regarding their rights to selfgovern. During this time, the Native Women's Association of Canada fought for the inclusion of Native women's voices and interests in the negotiation processes. The Accord was ultimately rejected by Canadian voters in referendum. (Reference)
Third and fourth gender Refers to people who are neither male nor female, or who embody aspects of both maleness and femaleness. These people would often have different gender roles and obligations to their communities than other men and women.
Two-Spirit Two-Spirit is an umbrella term that describes nonheterosexual and/or non-cisgender Indigenous sexual and gender expressions. The term comes from the Northern Algonquin word niizh manitoag, meaning two spirits. The term Two-spirit represents the presence of masculine and feminine traits within an individual. (Reference)