Formation of New Band Does Not Meet Proper Criteria

Ennisko:wa/March 11, 2014

TERRITORY OF AKWESASNE – The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne  (MCA) wishes to notify the community that according to the Akwesasne Election Law, which was voted on and enacted by our community, MCA is the governing body of Akwesasne's northern portions, with one (1) grand chief being elected by the entire community, and residents of each three (3) districts voting for four (4) chiefs to represent their district.  The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada (AANDC) also recognizes MCA as the governing body of Akwesasne.

Should any members wish to change the manner in which the northern districts of the territory are governed, they must receive that direction and authority from the community.  In order to receive federal recognition, AANDC would also need to recognize an entity as a First Nations government. AANDC has not contacted MCA regarding any secondary mandate for governance in Akwesasne.  No information regarding plans to form a new or separate band office has been transmitted to MCA in any official manner.   

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Election Law was adopted in 1985.  This action took power and decision-making authority away from AANDC (formerly Indian Affairs) and gave it to the community of Akwesasne.  MCA has not been approached to make any changes to this law.

The AANDC provided the following response to an Akwesasne community member regarding the notion of creating a new band:

 

March 7, 2014

Dear Ms. Pyke,

This is in response to your emails to the Department regarding land-related matters at Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and funding for an office.  

As you may know, communication between the Government of Canada and First Nations in the area of funding and land-related issues is undertaken by designated individuals in First Nation administrations. For instance, your request for a copy of a land abstract in Akwesasne on Cornwall Island (Lot 131) would be more appropriately directed to Ms. Leona Delormier, Manager, Office of Vital Statistics, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. 

With respect to your request for funding of an off-reserve office, please be advised that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has programs and authorities for on-reserve capital funding only. 

You also expressed a wish to be involved in land disputes and the new band administration at Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. Again, this request should be addressed to Akwesasne’s administrative offices. AANDC does not have authority over your participation in these matters. 

I understand that you have advised the Department of your wish to divide your community into two reserves. I am attaching AANDC's New Bands/Band Amalgamations document in which the process for band division is outlined. Please note Section 11.3.2.1 that states a formal written request must be received by AANDC from representatives of the group seeking to form a new band. Additionally, the parent band is required to submit a Band Council Resolution agreeing to the creation of the new band and to any proposed transfer of assets. Therefore, I encourage you to discuss this proposal with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne as an important first step in the process.

I am sure you will appreciate that as First Nations have moved increasingly toward self-government, it has been and continues to be the policy of AANDC to encourage First Nation governments to continue to deliver programs and services to their community members.  Therefore, community members are encouraged to resolve their concerns with Chiefs and Councils directly.

I suggest that all future communications about these and other band-related matters be directed to the Grand Chief and Council of Akwesasne for their review and action.

I trust this information is of assistance.

Sophie Radecki
Director, Lands and Economic Development
AANDC Ontario Region

 

The following is a summary of expectations of a group wishing to separate or form a new band, or amalgamate bands, according to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Affairs Canada:

 

Forming a New Band: Steps and Checklist

 

  • A formal written request submitted to the region from the band members/group(s) seeking to form a new band
  • Indication of reasons for the proposal and the alternatives considered
  • Indication that the current band council is in agreement to the new band creation, when significant resources and number of band members are involved.
  • Indication that the new band has developed a plan for asset administration following amalgamation
  • Indication of whether or not any treaty/claims, legal or ministerial obligations might require the deputy minister’s approval of the proposal
  • Identification of the issues which precipitated the new band proposal and whether or not these issues can be resolved within the existing bands’ structure
  • Indication of whether or not alternatives to the proposal have been explored
  • Indication of whether or not the new proposed band and existing band have reached agreement regarding the division of existing assets
  • Indication of the name of the reserve or land reserved by notation and geographic location if the existing band is releasing land to the new band
  • OR Indication of the relevant additions proposal under Chapter 9 of the Land Management and Procedures Manual for the acquisition of a land base, if the existing band is not in agreement with the separation.
  • Indication of whether or not the group requesting the formation are status Indians comprising an existing, viable and ongoing community located on the site of the proposed reserve
  • Indication of whether or not new band members have been advised that they will be required to execute statements of intention to become members of the new band once the Deputy Minister’s approval has been obtained
  • Indication of whether or not any services delivered by provincial/territorial governments would cease if the new band was created
  • Indication of whether or not Specific Claims or Comprehensive Claims has been consulted, where applicable.
  • Indication of what costs are associated with the new band’s creation and what funding will be available.

 

The above information is only a summary of AANDC’s checklist when presented with a new band proposal.  For additional information please contact AANDC directly at www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca.