About band membership and how to transfer to or create a band

Find out about band membership and how to transfer to, divide, merge or create a new band.

On this page

How to transfer to another band?

If the band you want to transfer to is under:

How does a band assume control of its own membership from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada?

There are two ways a band can assume control of its own membership from INAC:

Membership rules must protect all membership rights acquired when INAC was maintaining the band list under section 11 of the Indian Act. The intent to assume control must be approved by a majority of the majority of the band (the majority of the electors of the band must vote and a majority of those who vote must be in favour).

A band that develops its membership rules within its community must provide a copy of those rules to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Office of the Indian Registrar. If the Minister is satisfied that the conditions of section 10 of the Indian Act have been met, including the consent of the majority of the majority of the band, the band receives notice that it has control of its membership.

The process is similar in self-government negotiations; however, the Parliament of Canada will normally approve the membership rules when they are part of self-government legislation.

As of June 2017, 229 bands have assumed control of their own membership under section 10 of the Indian Act, while 38 control membership through self-government legislation outside of the Indian Act.

Contact your INAC regional office to learn more about how a band assumes control of its own membership.

How are bands created?

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs can create a band in three ways:

If the band is under section 11 of the Indian Act, an INAC regional office can help maintain the band list and keep track of the membership. The regional office works with the groups or bands so that it can make a recommendation to INAC headquarters on what the groups or band are seeking. The INAC regional office working with the groups or bands must also receive a formal written request from the group(s) or band members seeking to form a band.

If the band is under section 10 of the Indian Act, the band works with its own legal counsel to develop the membership rules (codes). INAC regional offices have no direct role in developing the band's membership rules.

How to divide a band?

Band division falls under section 17 of the Indian Act.

When submitting a request for a band division, you must include the reasons for division and alternatives that were considered. There must be an identified land base and the division must be cost neutral.

Band division usually involves five steps:

  1. The proposed band negotiates the terms of separation with other affected bands.
  2. INAC reviews the proposed terms to ensure the Department can meet any obligations that will fall within its mandate and that all essential matters are addressed.
  3. The Deputy Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada gives approval in principle to the proposal.
  4. A vote is held in the affected communities to ensure a majority agreement to the terms.
  5. The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs approves the agreement in principle.

Most new bands have emerged from a band division. Some have involved both Status and non-Status Indians, following the general rule that status members are the majority.

Before you begin the band division process, contact your INAC regional office as more steps may be required than those listed here. 

How to merge bands?

To merge or amalgamate a band with another band, you must submit a band council resolution to your INAC regional office regional office requesting the merger and explaining the request.

Before merging, the bands must demonstrate that they have reached an agreement about how the bands' resources (such as land, assets and funding) will be distributed within the band. The INAC regional office will examine the proposal to merge. There must be an identified land base and the merger must be cost neutral.

Band merging usually involves, five steps:

  1. The proposed band negotiates the terms of merging with the other affected band.
  2. INAC reviews the proposed terms to ensure the Department can meet any obligations that will fall within its mandate and that all essential matters are addressed.
  3. The Deputy Minister of INAC gives approval in principle to the proposal.
  4. A vote is held in the affected communities to ensure a majority agreement to the terms.
  5. The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs approves the agreement in principle.

No additional land will be provided by INAC to the band as a direct result of the merge.

Before you begin the band merging process, contact your INAC regional office as more steps may be required than those listed here.

How to create a new band?

Contact your INAC regional office to find out more about creating a new band.

Related links

Date modified: