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 band.

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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?

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

Under the process set out in section 10 of the Indian Act:

  1. the band must give notice to its electors of its intention to assume control of its membership
  2. the band must develop membership rules that protect any person's right to membership acquired when INAC was maintaining the band list
  3. a majority of the majority of the band members must approve the intent to assume control of its membership, that is, the majority of the electors of the band must vote, and a majority of those who vote must be in favour of the intent
  4. the band must give notice in writing to the Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs that it is assuming control of its own membership and provide the Minister and the Office of the Indian Registrar with a copy of its membership rules

If the Minister is satisfied that the conditions of section 10 of the Indian Act have been met, the band will receive notice that it has control of its own membership.

In self-government negotiations, the process is similar to that set out in section 10 of the Indian Act; however, the Parliament of Canada will normally approve the membership rules when they are part of self-government legislation.

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

If the band is under section 11 of the Indian Act, the band membership list is maintained at INAC by the Indian Registrar.

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.

To find out more about how a band assumes control of its own membership, contact:

How to create a band?

Bands can be created in three ways:

Dividing 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 the other affected band or 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 Crown–Indigenous Relations 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 separation terms.
  5. The Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs approves the separation agreement in principle.

Most new bands have come into being from a band division. Some have involved both status and non-status Indians, following the general rule that registered 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.

Merging bands

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

Before merging, the bands must prove 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 or bands.
  2. INAC reviews the proposed terms to ensure the department can meet any obligation that will fall within its mandate and that all essential matters are addressed.
  3. The Deputy Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations 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 merger terms.
  5. The Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs approves the merger 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.

Seeking recognition as a band

INAC regional offices work with unrecognized groups or collectives seeking recognition under the Indian Act. A recommendation is then made to INAC headquarters on what the groups or collectives are seeking in terms of rights. The INAC regional office working with the groups or collectives must receive a formal written request from the groups or collectives if they officially are seeking to form a band.

To find out more about seeking recognition as a new band, contact your INAC regional office.

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