Sandra Lovelace Nicholas – Maliseet, Tobique First Nation, fought for women’s rights

In 1876, Canada passed a law taking away the Indigenous rights of First Nations women who married non-First Nation men.

Women lost their right to hunt, to fish, to select their leadership and even to live in a First Nation community.

Many First Nations women and leaders objected, but the law remained in place for more than 100 years.

In 1977 Sandra Lovelace married, then divorced a non-First Nations man. When she tried to return to her home community, she was not allowed.

Nicholas’ took her case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In 1981 the UN ruled that Canada had violated First Nations women’s civil and political rights. Canada changed their laws in 1985.

Her victory restored the rights of tens of thousands of First Nations women and children. In 2005 Lovelace Nicholas was appointed to the Senate by former Prime Minister Paul Martin.