Exploratory Discussions with Canada
On June 10, 2023 the Michel Callihoo Nation Society (MCNS) held their first community engagement session. Officials from Canada were in attendance and had the opportunity to provide presentations on Canada’s role in the exploratory discussions with MCNS and Bill C-38 An Act to amend the Indian Act (new registration entitlements). This emotional and historic event was the culmination of collaborative engagement over the past 18 months amongst various descendant groups that have come together as MCNS. Canada began exploratory discussions in 2021 with bilateral discussions involving five separate descendant groups. Canada would like to congratulate members of MCNS for entering into a protocol agreement that represents the unification of these separate groups.
Canada continues to engage with MCNS regularly through exploratory main table discussions , as well as through a number of technical sub-working groups focused on topics such as membership, communications, the Band Creation submission , Treaty Pay, and funding support. Canada has provided MCNS with funding through Professional and Institutional Development over the course of these engagements in order to support MCNS in these discussions. At the June 10 community engagement, MCNS informed constituents that MCNS submitted a t a formal written submission to Canada for Band Creation under s.17 of the Indian Act. Canada is currently reviewing the submission in accordance with the New Bands / Band Amalgamation Policy (1991). There are a number of steps that the Department must complete before a determination will be made on whether to enter into a formal Band Creation process with MCNS. This process does not guarantee Band recognition of a group, which is subject to Ministerial decision.
Bill C-38 seeks to address some of the remaining inequities in the registration and band membership provisions of the Indian Act. The introduction of these legislative amendments to the Indian Act seeks to address four areas, including enfranchisement, individual deregistration, natal band reaffiliation and membership, as well as outdated and offensive language related to dependent persons. The legislation responds to longstanding concerns raised by First Nations and other individuals affected by the Indian Act’s residual discriminatory impacts and would seek to ensure First Nation individuals with family histories of enfranchisement are entitled to registration under the Indian Act and can pass on this entitlement to descendants to the same degree as those without family histories of enfranchisement.
Bill C-38 will provide individuals with the right and ability to have their names removed from the Indian Register. This means that for some individuals, deregistration is a matter of having control over their own identity. For others, it’s a barrier to gaining membership to other Indigenous groups, like Métis citizenship or enrollment with certain American Indian Tribes, if they have mixed ancestry. This has prevented many people from accessing important services and benefits through a group they wish to identify with, that they should be entitled to. For example, Métis lose their right to Métis membership if they are registered under the Indian Act and some American Indian Tribes do not allow those registered under the Indian Act to enroll.