Submitted by: Sandra Lovelace
State party concerned: Canada
Date of communication: 29 December 1977
The Human Rights Committee, established under article 28 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a/
Meeting on 30 July 1981;
Having concluded its consideration ofcommunication No. R.6/24 submitted to the Committee by Sandra Lovelace under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
Having taken into account all written information made available to it by the authors of the communication and by the State party concerned;
adopts the following:
VIEWS UNDER ARTICLE 5 (4) OF THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL
1. The author ofthe communication dated 29 December 1977 and supplemented by letters of 17 April 1978, 28 November 1979 and 20 June 1980, is a 32-year-old woman, living in Canada. She was born and registered as "Maliseet Indian" but has lost her rights and status as an Indian in accordance with section 12 (1) (b) of the Indian Act, after having married a non-Indian on 23 May 1970. Pointing out that an Indian manwho marries a non-Indian woman does not lose his Indian status, she claims that the Act is discriminatory on the rounds of sex and contrary to articles 2 (1), 3, 23 (1) and (4), 26 and 27 of the Covenant. As to the admissibility of the communication, she contends that she was not required to exhaust local remedies since the Supreme Court of Canada, in The Attorney-General of Canada v. JeanetteLavalle, Richard Isaac et al. v. Ivonne Bedard /1974/ S.C.R. 1349, held that section 12 (1) (b) was fully operative, irrespective of its inconsistency with the Canadian Bill of Rights on account of discrimination based on sex.
2. By its decision of 18 July 1978 the Human Rights Committee transmitted the communication, under rule 91 of the provisional rules of procedure, to the State party concerned,requesting information and observations relevant to the question of admissibility of the communication. This request for information and observations was reiterated by a decision of the Committee's Working Group, dated 6 April 1979.
3. By its decision of 14 August 1979 the Human Rights Committee declared the communication admissible and requested the author of the communication to submitadditional information concerning her age and her marriage, which had not been indicated in the original submission. At that time no information or observations had been received from the State party concerning the question of admissibility of the communication.
4. In its submission dated 26 September 1979 relating to the admissibility of the communication, the State party informed the Committee thatit had no comments on that point to make. This fact, however, should not be considered as an admission of the merits of the allegations or the arguments of the author of the communication.
5. In its submission under article 4 (2) of the Optional Protocol concerning the merits of the case, dated 4 April 1980, the State party recognized that "many of the provisions of the ... Indian Act, includingsection 12 (1) (b), require serious reconsideration and reform". The Government further referred to an earlier public declaration to the effect that it intended to put a reform bill before the Canadian Parliament. It none the less stressed the necessity of the Indian Act as an instrument designed to protect the Indian minority in accordance with article 27 of the Covenant. A definition of theIndian was inevitable in view of the special privileges granted to the Indian communities, in particular their right to occupy reserve lands. Traditionally, patrilineal family relationships were taken into account for determining legal claims. Since, additionally, in the farming societies of the nineteenth century, reserve land was felt to be more threatened by non-Indian men than by non-Indian...