First Nations must have say in citizenship: Beaucage

    NIPISSING FIRST NATION, ON, June 3 /CNW/ - Anishinabek Nation leaders
want the federal government to involve First Nations in revising Indian Act
provisions dealing with citizenship.
    Grand Council Chief John Beaucage applauded the government's decision to
not appeal a landmark B.C. court decision on the issue, but says this presents
an opportunity to open up the issue of citizenship to a broader First Nations
    "This is an opportunity for the government of Canada to recognize true
First Nations citizenship," said Beaucage, who represents the 42 member First
Nations of the Anishinabek Nation and is currently running for the office of
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. "To enable and recognize
First Nation citizenship codes rather than the narrow approach of the Indian
    On April 6, 2009, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, in McIvor v. The
Registrar, agreed with a lower court decision that Section 6 of the Indian
Act, which defines "status Indians" and other registration provisions,
infringes upon Sharon McIvor and her son, Jacob Grismer's right to equality
under section 15 of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The lower court
found that the discrimination was based on women losing their Indian status by
"marrying out" and subsequently, their children would not obtain Indian
status. The B.C. Court of Appeal narrowed the interpretation to the beneficial
treatment of those in the male line. For persons entitled to be registered
before April 17, 1985, and have only one parent who is Indian - registration
is treated differently if their Indian grandparent was a man than if their
Indian grandparent was a woman.
    Beaucage referred to an Anishinabek Nation process to establish their own
citizenship law to replace definitions of Indian Status.
    "We reject outright the concept of Indian Status. I can think of no other
issue as crucial for our future or as fundamental to our nationhood as
citizenship. It is not my status card that tells me I am First Nations. The
legacy of my forefathers, and my connections with my family, my community and
my Nation tell me who I am."
    Beaucage has pledged that, if elected National Chief, he will campaign
for Canada's endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous
Rights, which affirms the right of indigenous people to determine their own
    "I am committed to supporting our right to determine our own citizens and
to advocate for our citizens and represent their interests wherever they may
choose to live."
    Jeanette Corbiere-Lavell, the Anishinabek Nation Commissioner on
Citizenship, has been working with citizens across Anishinabek territory to
prepare for discussion by Chiefs of an Anishinabek Law respecting Citizenship
during the annual Grand Council assembly next week in Aamjiwnaang First
Nation, near Sarnia.
    "The courts have agreed with us that Canada's imposition of citizenship
rules on us is discriminatory," said Corbiere-Lavell. "The government now has
an opportunity to work with us to set things right."
    The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the National organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
    Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.
    The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 41 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.

For further information:

For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Phone:
(705) 497-9127, E-mail:; Bob Goulais, Executive
Assistant to the Grand Council Chief, Cell: (705) 498-5250, E-mail:

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Anishinabek Nation

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