The Indian Act sets out rules and requirements for both “Indian status” and for membership in First Nation “bands”, as those terms are defined in the Indian Act. However, the Indian Act also provides bands with the ability to draft and enact their own membership codes which means they can develop their own laws, customs and traditions.
A “band member” is defined in the Indian Act(the “Act”) as “a person whose name appears on a Band List or who is entitled to have his name appear on a Band List” (see section 2 of the Act).
Prior to 1985, band membership carried Indian status along with it (note: the term “Status” Indian is used to refer to people who are registered or entitled to be registered as Indians under the Indian Act). In other words, they were one and the same: people who had Indian status under the Act and who had band membership were treated the same at law.
In 1985, however, Canada introduced amendments to the Indian Actwhich changed the way in which Indian status and band membership is determined. Since the 1985 amendments, Indian status and band membership can be determined separately and may not coincide.
The 1985 amendments allowed a band to control their membership by adopting their own membership codes under section 10 of the Indian Act. Section 10 allows a band to control its own membership, ifit gets consent from a majority of electors, and if it establishes “membership rules” (e.g., a membership code).
Membership codes must meet certain requirements under the Indian Act and be compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In August 2009, DRFN’s membership approved its Membership Code which became effective August 22, 2011. As part of the Code, DRFN developed Membership Code Policies and Procedures and established a Membership Committee.
The Membership Committee is responsible for:
- deciding applications for Membership
- applying the membership criteria guidelines to make decision on applications
- providing written reasons for its decision, and,
- producing reports respecting membership and applications, upon request by Council
The Membership Committee is supported by the Membership Clerk, Darlene Davis and the Band Manager, Shona Nelson.
The Membership Committee is composed of not less than:
- two elders, with at least one residing on a reserve or lease of DRFN
- six additional members, with at least two residing on a reserve or lease of DRFN; and
- the Registrar
Council will consider appointing, where reasonably practicable, at least one person to act as a representative for each traditional family group and will appoint the Committee members at a duly convened meeting by band council resolution.
The current Membership Committee includes:
- Darlene Davis-Registrar
- Margaret Davis
- Shania Capot-Blanc
- Sue Carter
- Annie Acko
- Madeline Oker
- Ashley Kucher
- Mabel Harding
Applications for Indian Status and DRFN Membership
Applications for Indian Status are received by Darlene Davis, Membership Clerk. Indian status is the legal status of a person who is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act.
Darlene also receives applications and works with individuals applying to be a member of DRFN as per the DRFN Membership Code. Membership applications are then reviewed and approved by the DRFN Membership Committee.
For more information contact Darlene Davis.