The federal government says it can’t reinstate the Michel First Nation in Alberta Treaty Six territory — because the Indian Act doesn’t have any provisions allowing it to do so.
In a statement to APTN News following recent coverage of community’s ongoing efforts to have the band reinstated, s spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada said that the band “voluntarily enfranchised in 1958, and reserve lands and assets were distributed to its enfranchised members.
“There is no provision in the Indian Act specifically for band reinstatement; a new band must be created.”
In 1985 amendments to the Indian Act led to the reinstatement of Indian Status to around 750 Michel Band members.
Many have been fighting ever since to have their community and reserve lands returned.
Brandy Callihoo of the group Descendants of Michel First Nation Association says the creation of a new band would allow the feds to negate responsibilities stemming from historic injustices.
“It’s a big deal because they need to make amends for the past,” she said. “I think by creating a new band they are trying to bypass all the wrongs that they did to our nation. They don’t want to deal with those because there’s many.”
Rosalind Callihoo is with the Michel Band Unity Group, which represents Michel’s treaty descendants, both status and non-status.
She’s also skeptical of having a new band created.
“We should have recognition under the Indian Act. If we have a new band, we have no claims that we can bring forward,” she said.
Both women say they will continue to fight to have the band reinstated.
“I would like for them to bring us to the table and have a conversation with us,” says Brandy. “Rather than making decisions without us.
“This is our future and we have the right to know what is going on firsthand.”
The government says it’s reviewing the case and has no further comment at the time.