REGINA - The federal government is facing a lawsuit launched on behalf of the grandchildren of aboriginal women who lost their status when they married non-natives.

A statement of claim says as many as 45,000 people suffered because they were denied Indian status and benefits like post-secondary funding, housing and extended health care.

Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, who wants the suit certified as a class action, says those descendants are owed more than $2.7 billion.

Merchant says the loss of status has had a "profound and permanent" impact on those First Nations people.

Prior to 1985, a grandchild could only receive Indian status through a grandfather but not a grandmother.

The Indian Act was changed in 1985 to reinstate the status for the aboriginal women and legislation extending it to their grandchildren received royal assent in December.