On October 25, 2016 the federal government introduced Bill S-3: An Act to amend the Indian Act as its response to the Descheneaux decision. The draft legislation was introduced in the Senate. The government’s original amendments were intended to address three forms of gender-based discrimination found in Descheneaux: (a) first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage; (b) women who were born out of wedlock between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985; and (c) minor children who were born of Indian parents, but lost entitlement to Indian status because their mother re-married a non-Indian after their birth.
On May 9, 2017, National Chief Bellegarde appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples to again speak to issues raised by Bill S-3. The National Chief’s submission supported the elimination of sex or gender-based discrimination, and he indicated the Indian Act, at its core, cannot be fixed. National Chief Bellegarde also spoke to the need for additional financial resources to provide essential government services to new registrants, as well as the need for additional reservation land entitlements to account for increases in new members. He encouraged First Nations to assert their inherent jurisdiction over all matters respecting First Nations citizenship.
In May, 2017, the Senate adopted an amendment by Senator McPhedren which is known as “6(1)(a) all the way”. This amendment was later eliminated by the House of Commons on June 22, 2017 and sent back to the Senate for approval. However, the Senate delayed debate on the bill until the fall.
On June 27, 2017 Madam Justice Masse of the Québec Superior Court denied a motion by Justice Canada to extend the deadline by a further six months. Canada has filed an appeal and will be heard by a single judge in July. As an alternative, the AFN has developed a template citizenship law for First Nations governments to use in enacting their own citizenship law.