Aboriginal women and children staged simultaneous protests in six cities across Canada on May 12 against Revenue Canada’s repeal of child tax benefits.

Protesters say the federal government’s actions violate Aboriginals’ tax-exempt status and effectively breaks a 10-year-old agreement struck between Revenue Canada and Aboriginal communities.

“We’re protesting against government policies that would lead to more poverty for Aboriginal people,” said Louise Mayo, an Aboriginal mother and Director of the Montreal Native Friendship Centre. “Revenue Canada needs to be held accountable to its good-faith agreement that was to last until four test cases all went through the courts.”

The six sit-in protests took place in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Hamilton.

Revenue Canada agreed to a tax reporting and reclamation process in 1995 with Canada’s Aboriginal communities that called for Aboriginals to file their taxes, and then file Notices of Objection to reclaim taxes to fulfill benefits to which they are entitled.

However, since that time, Revenue Canada has imposed inconsistent repeals that discourage Aboriginals from asserting their tax-exempt status.

“By taking away child tax benefits, Revenue Canada is directly causing us to sink further into poverty. It’s a move that’s hurting the most vulnerable in our community – our children,” said Mayo. “Revenue Canada is trying to frustrate us by making the system complicated. It’s under-handed, unfair and wrong.”