Anishinabek Begin Developing Own Citizenship Law
ALDERVILLE FN (June 28, 2007) – Chiefs representing 42 First Nations across Ontario have directed their leadership to take the unprecedented step of developing an Anishinabek citizenship law designed to help their communities replace the Indian Act’s determination of “status Indian” membership.”The basic underlying principle of self-government is that First Nations have the inherent and inalienable right to determine who our citizens are,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. “Canada says they support First Nation self-determination, and recognizing our right to say who belong to our communities is fundamental to that concept.”
The Anishinabek Nation leader noted that the British Columbia Supreme Court recently tossed out Section 6 of the 130-year-old federal Indian Act which determines entitlement to a variety of rights – including access to education and health care benefits — based on an arcane set of rules based on quantum.
“We reject the Indian Act in its attempt to legislate and define who an Anishinabek Nation citizen is, and as such, we reject the concept of Indian Status,” said Beaucage.
In speaking to a resolution endorsing development of a template for a citizenship law to help member communities create their own legislation, the Grand Council Chief recognized years of research on the status/citizenship issue by Alderville First Nation councillor Wayne Beaver.
“We commend councillor Wayne Beaver’s dedication to this critical governance issue. He is a shining example of how individual Anishinabek citizens can play a role in making our Nation stronger,” Beaucage said.
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.