Canada's Legal System Hates Indigenous Women

75 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2016 Last revised: 19 Apr 2019

Date Written: June 1, 2017


Canada's Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) will soon begin its work. This paper reviews the history and current ways that Canada's laws and legal system have and continue to discriminate against indigenous women, from Indian status, to property rights, to marital separation rights, to protection from abuse, to health care, reproductive rights, drugs and prostitution laws. The paper asks various questions for the MMIW Inquiry to answer. This discrimination against indigenous women has lasted longer than Canada's existence. The 150th celebration of confederation is coming; the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is more than 30 years old. When will the discrimination end? When will the Charter finally provide equality and security of the person to indigenous women? When will Canada's legal system finally stop hating indigenous women? (Note: pages 5 - 10 were revised in April 2019)

Keywords: Canada, indigenous, aboriginal, women, law, equality, human rights, history, discrimination, Indian Act, reproductive rights, birth, prostitution, drug laws, harm reduction, marital status, voting rights

Suggested Citation

McMahon, Thomas, Canada's Legal System Hates Indigenous Women (June 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

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