Court strikes down unconstitutional clause . . .
On Friday, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court struck down part of the 2001 Status Act for Indigenous Peoples that deals with granting Indigenous status to those with mixed parentage. The clause in question states that "children of intermarriages between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples taking the surname of the Indigenous father or mother, or using a traditional Indigenous Peoples name, shall acquire Indigenous Peoples status." This makes gaining Indigenous status gender-biased; in practice, a child with an Indigenous father would be more likely to gain Indigenous status than the other way around, as it is more common for children to acquire their father’s surname. The Court ruled that the clause violates the Constitution by not protecting Indigenous rights to personal identity or racial and gender equality. It also said the clause was based on a flawed understanding, as surnames are not a part of Indigenous cultures in Taiwan.
Two years to amend . . .
The Court ordered the government to amend the law within two years. If its requirements are not met within that time frame, people with mixed parentage, about 95,000 people, would be eligible to acquire Indigenous status. Indigenous identity issues in Taiwan, however, are not limited to this law. While the government recognizes 16 distinct Indigenous groups, with a total population of about 580,0000, or about 2.5 per cent of the island’s population, there are at least 10 Pingpu Indigenous groups that do not have such recognition. Regardless of government recognition, many face challengesaround culture and language revitalization, education, encroachment on traditional lands, and protection of their rights. Like in Canada, about half of the officially recognized Indigenous population in Taiwan lives in urban areas.
Indigenous peoples strengthen Taiwan-Canada ties . . .
There have been a variety of Indigenous peoples exchanges between Taiwan and Canada over the last three decades focused on areas such as education, media, language, and rights. Last week, Taiwan officially announced that it had become a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s 2021 Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement. The agreement aims to “strengthen the economic empowerment of Indigenous Peoples in the Asia Pacific region [by] promoting greater Indigenous trade and economic linkages and ensuring international focus on Indigenous economic and trade matters.” Given that Canada is one of the other founding members, these longstanding Indigenous ties are bound to deepen.