THUNDER BAY – Currently, there is a gap in services for people living on-reserve in instances of marriage breakdown. Provincial laws governing the fair division of assets when a marriage fails does not apply on First Nations reserves. The federal Indian Act, which governs most aspects of reserve life, does not address the subject.
Outside of reserves, when a married or common-law couple splits up, the house and belongings can be split 50-50. Under the Indian Act, on the reserves, only the person issued the band house is in control, which can result in one partner left with nothing.
Bill S-2 aims to provide spouses living both on and off reserves the same rights to claim a share of the family’s assets in the event of a marriage breakdown.
However, it is still a very complex situation and Bill S-2 fails to address all the issues. When a woman leaves a home due to family violence or domestic abuse on reserve there is often nowhere to go. Most reserves in Ontario do not have crisis homes and there are very few if any resources available for emergency housing when most Northern communities are in a housing crisis. This leaves women in a very difficult situation, forcing many Aboriginal women to stay in abusive relationships because of these limitations and for fear of having nowhere to go.
Because of these harsh realities that exist in Northern communities, it is important that women be aware of services like Talk4Healing. Talk4Healing is a culturally safe telephone help line for Aboriginal women living in Northern Ontario. We provide acceptance of Aboriginal women’s issues in a non-judgemental way, and we understand the limitations of on reserve living. We can help with developing a safety plan for Aboriginal women and their children who need to escape a dangerous or violent family situation. Talk4Healing and our trained, Aboriginal women counsellors can also link women up with regional shelters that can assist them in getting out of the home when that is the safest option. Talk4Healing counsellors can help women work on their issues and move forward on the path to healing. It is a completely free and confidential service that empowers women to take control of their own lives in the communities where they live.
Call Talk4Healing today and find out how we can help at 1-855-554-HEAL (4325) or visit www.talk4healing.com for more information. Your path to healing starts here.
By Robin Haliuk