To access programs and services available to First Nations, such as health, dental and education, a person must be registered as an Indian in Canada. The term “Status Indian” is often used to refer to a person who is registered. The Indian Act provides the rules that a person must follow in order to register for Indian Status. There are different processes for people born before and after April 17, 1985 when Bill C-31 was enacted.
The decision to apply for Indian Status with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is voluntary – registration does not happen automatically. AANDC maintains the list of Registered Indians in Canada (The Indian Register). This Register keeps a record of births, deaths, marriages and divorces (vital events). A person may register as a Status Indian and/or provide updates on vital events, at their community Band office or at AANDC's regional office (see address below). For more detailed information on registration, visit How to Register and Apply for Indian Status.
Once registered with Indian Status, an individual may apply for a Status Card at their community Band office or through AANDC's regional office.
As soon as a person is registered with Indian Status they may be assigned to a band membership list (Registry Group). If AANDC is managing a band membership list (Indian Act section 11), the person automatically becomes a band member when they are registered, and are added to a band list. If a band is managing its own band list (Indian Act section 10), the person must apply directly to the band for membership. You may contact either a band office or the AANDC regional office to determine whether a Band falls under section 10 or 11 of the Indian Act.
For further information, contact AANDC BC Region main reception and ask to speak to a representative in Community Development.