What we heard about Indian registration, band membership and First Nation citizenship, October 2018

Summaries of Consultation sessions for the Collaborative process on Indian registration, band membership and First Nation citizenship engagement sessions are posted below.

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Skidegate, British Columbia, October 8, 2018

Participants

  • Participants from Skidegate First Nation
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session was primarily an information session on:

  • the 3 consultation streams of the collaborative process:
    • the removal of the 1951 cut-off
    • the remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act
    • First Nations' exclusive responsibility for determining membership and citizenship, moving beyond the Indian Act
  • questions and answers

Many participants expressed their concerns about the complexity of the issues to be discussed as part of the collaborative process. The consultation session mostly focused on discussing First Nations' responsibility for determining membership and citizenship.

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Questions were raised on the differences between how Section 10 and Section 11 bands determine membership and citizenship

Hope, British Columbia, October 15, 2018

Participants

  • Participants from Chawathil First Nation
  • 2 representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session was primarily an information session on:

  • the 3 consultation streams of the collaborative process:
    • the removal of the 1951 cut-off;
    • the remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act; and
    • First Nations' exclusive responsibility for determining membership and citizenship (moving beyond the Indian Act)
  • questions and answers

A main concern was about the entitlement of women who gained status through marriage and their descendants. A follow-up consultation event will be held in January 2019.

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Participants shared issues they are having with the acceptance of their Secure Certificate of Indian Status as a valid identifying document to cross the Canada-U.S. border
  • Participants highlighted specific problems encountered when visiting or living with a tribe in the United States, such as transporting cultural goods, being taxed on purchases, and holding membership in a Canadian band but wanting to live with a U.S. tribe

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Participants discussed their status as a Section 10 band and how it impacts the way membership and citizenship is determined. Participants expressed concerns over the amount of work involved in managing their own membership list

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, October 16, 2018

Participants

  • Council members, Elders, and band members of Waterhen Lake First Nation
  • 2 representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session was primarily an information session with a focus on the departmental information presentation, and questions and answers. Participant input focused on a need for additional land and funding to accommodate new members as well as the First Nation membership code.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • More funding will be needed to support housing, infrastructure, and genealogical capacity for the anticipated population increase

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Bands should decide the registration category of their members
  • There is the potential for Section 10 bands to face litigation with individuals who were declined for membership
  • The First Nation is a Section 10 band with its own membership code that is distinct from Indian Act registration. Therefore, they will need to revise their membership code to accept individuals who are newly entitled to Indian registration

Muncey, Ontario, October 16, 2018

Participants

  • Members of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

Discussions revolved around:

  • the history and control of membership in their area
  • how the rules regarding registration have changed

Participants expressed concerns about family and community impacts from Bill S-3 with an overarching focus towards a need for more Government of Canada accountability.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • Availability of land and housing were identified as issues as there is already a demand for these resources and it is not enough to accommodate a population increase
  • Funding for membership should be increased to support the band with the influx of new members

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Some participants recommended that there be a cut-off for Indian registration; however, it was not determined at which point
  • Families who have members in Canada and in the United States face difficulty registering their children for membership in the United States because of their registration status in Canada
  • Participants suggested the creation of a registration category to restrict the entitlement of children born to a woman who gained status through marriage, but who were born after the woman became divorced from that marriage

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Participants discussed how bands historically accepted and adopted non-Indigenous individuals who embrace Indigenous culture and community, and how this tradition could impact membership moving forward
  • Participants identified that there could be liability issues for the band should individuals be denied membership after the transfer of responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

Meadow Lake Saskatchewan, October 17, 2018

Participants

  • Members of Waterhen Lake First Nation
  • 2 representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session was primarily an information session with a focus on the departmental information presentation, and questions and answers. Participant input focused on the removal of the 1951 cut-off and the remaining inequities in Indian registration and band membership.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • There is not enough funding to provide new members with the same programs and services offered to existing members
  • Individuals who enfranchised and received a portion of their band's land should return the land to the band

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Enfranchised individuals were taken off the treaty list with no reason provided for why they were removed

Little Salmon Carmacks, Yukon Territory, October 18, 2018

Participants

  • Participants from Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

Participants discussed how the First Nation is obligated to provide services to all citizens, regardless of status. They predicted new members will create pressure on funding for programs provided by the First Nation.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • The population growth from the removal of the 1951 cut-off is predicted to impact their funding for program delivery

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Because of the introduction of the second generation cut-off, more and more individuals are citizens of the First Nation without being entitled to Indian registration
    • Therefore, the funding should be linked to the number of citizens of a First Nation and not its number of individuals with Indian status
  • The second-generation cut-off was discussed by participants
    • Some recommended that there be a cut off for registration after a certain number of consecutive generations of parenting with a person who is not entitled to registration
    • Others thought that all of their descendants should be entitled to Indian registration, regardless of out parenting

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Some participants suggested that there should be the opportunity to use DNA tests to determine status
  • The First Nation has a membership category for associate citizens who cannot vote and who do not have access to benefits

Penticton, British Columbia, October 22, 2018

Participants

  • Members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

This consultation session was a precursor for a consultation event in January 2019. Participants discussed the implications of Bill S-3. A main concern was the entitlement of women who gained status upon marriage and their descendants.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • There are concerns about current band members not knowing the people who have been added to their membership
  • Participants felt like there was a lack of general awareness of Bill S-3, its impacts, and its implementation

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Questions were asked on the particularities of Section 10 bands and clarification was sought on how individuals can be registered as Indians but not be members of their affiliate bands

Williams Lake, British Columbia, October 24, 2018

Participants

  • Representatives of 2 of the 4 bands represented by the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council
  • 2 representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

Representatives from First Nations belonging to the tribal council met to discuss the impacts on their respective bands. Participants identified insufficient housing, privacy barriers to conducting genealogy work, and confusion between status and membership as main concerns for the consultation.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • Participants anticipated that some members will want to return to the reserve and there is not enough housing for new members
  • Participants discussed the Williams Lake and Canim Lake membership codes and how the codes will apply to the newly registered individuals

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Second-generation cut-off was identified as the most important inequity to be dealt with
  • Unknown or unstated parentage was presented as an issue leading to the second-generation cut-off
  • There may be a need to help members, especially off-reserve, reconnect to the community and culture

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • It was emphasized that communications on the transfer of responsibility should be in plain English with simple explanations

Fort St. John, British Columbia, October 25, 2018

Participants

  • Saulteau First Nations members representing the Chief and Council as well as community members
  • 2 representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

There are concerns that this consultation process is the government's way to obtain First Nation permission to uphold the Indian Act.

Some participants view the Indian Act as the Government of Canada's way of restricting First Nations' rights and that by asking First Nations to collaborate on how to change it without eliminating it, the Government of Canada is trying to have First Nations' consent to being ruled by the Indian Act.

The community will continue to meet to discuss the consultation streams.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • Removing the 1951 cut-off will increase their number of members but there is already not enough housing or land for existing members to move to the reserve
    • This issue will be magnified by the removal of the 1951 cut-off
  • Funding should be immediately available for all individuals newly entitled to status instead of being limited to those who received Indian status
  • A cultural rehabilitation team could help to counter the dilution of culture that is anticipated with the newly registered individuals

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • It was suggested that each First Nation should set their own cut-off for entitlement to registration
  • The government's way of managing adoptee records is problematic
    • Register pages, which are only accessible at the First Nation level by trained and recognized Indian Registration Administrators, are mostly blank and therefore do not contain information about genealogy
    • This makes it hard for the Indian Registration Administrators to do their work
  • The First Nation's membership code differs from the government's approach on adoption
    • For example, their membership code restricts voting and political office rights for adoptees for 10 years after registration, while the federal government immediately grants medical coverage and post-secondary education funding upon registration of an adopted child

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Every First Nation should be able to determine who has Indian status in their community
  • Participants expressed that the federal government does not respect treaty obligations

N'Quatqua First Nation, British Columbia, October 26 and 27, 2018

Participants

  • Members of N'Quatqua First Nation
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The First Nation is interested in developing a membership code within Section 10 of the Indian Act but there is a need for financial support to do so.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • The removal of the 1951 cut-off will increase their population of registered individuals
    • More funding will be needed to support the additional needs in housing and infrastructure
  • Adoption is a difficult issue to balance between blood connections and family relations and will need further discussion to determine how it can be resolved

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Participants expressed their interest in controlling their membership list by developing their own membership code within Section 10 of the Indian Act
  • More funding will be required for the transfer of responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

Tofino, British Columbia, October 29, 2018

Participants

  • Leadership members from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session was primarily an information session on the three consultation streams related to Indian registration, band membership and First Nation citizenship.

Participants discussed how funding is the reason behind many of the problems that the First Nation faces regarding membership and citizenship.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • The availability of land to accommodate membership growth is an important issue due to the high costs of land in the area around the First Nation

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Some participants believe that enfranchisement still exists through the second-generation cut-off
  • Participants suggested that Indian status should not only be determined by genealogy
    • They mentioned that demonstrating a connection with the community should be used as an alternative
  • Participants suggested that deregistration should be possible and discussed what compensation or benefits that would be accessible to individuals after deregistering

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • The First Nation highlighted that their existing code might need to be reviewed and will need funding support to complete this review
  • Participants mentioned that the Indian Act should be abolished and that it should be up to the Nations to determine their own membership rules

Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Ontario, October 29, 2018

Participants

  • Aamjiwnaang First Nation band staff
  • Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief and Council
  • Staff from the Southern First Nations Secretariat
  • A representative from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Key comments and recommendations

The session focused on the impacts of Bill S-3 on their community with a focus on how the increase in the population of registered Indians will impact their band-delivered programs and outstanding commitments from the days of wampum.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • Since the department has control of the historical records, there is a need for the Government of Canada to do further research to understand the broader impacts of removing the 1951 cut-off on all programs and services for community members
  • Bands need more funding for capacity and operations to support band membership and the demographic growth impacting other programs such as wills, estates and matrimonial land

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • It was suggested that women who obtained status through marriage but consequently divorced should lose their entitlement to status

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • Canada should assume liability issues if bands take control of membership

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories October 31, 2018

Participants

  • Women from the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories
  • Representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.

Key comments and recommendations

The second-generation cut-off has directly and indirectly impacted many participants significantly. Participants strongly expressed that women are at the center of the recent changes and their voices need to be heard.

Removing the "1951 cut-off" from the Indian Act

  • Some participants mentioned that perhaps Indian status should be removed from non-Indigenous women who gained status through marriage with an Indian man

Remaining inequities related to registration and membership under the Indian Act

  • Participants expressed that descendants of men who were enfranchised should have the same status as descendants of non-enfranchised men
  • The second-generation cut-off was identified as an important issue and it was suggested that the cut-off be removed
    • Some participants were of the opinion that all descendants of Indians should be entitled to Indian registration

First Nations responsibility for determining membership and citizenship

  • First Nations in the region are generally unaware of the possibility of determining their own membership code under Section 10 of the Indian Act and there is insufficient capacity and funding for those interested in determining their own membership
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