The question of who is eligible to be registered in a band – and who makes that decision is the focus of a short APTN News Perspectives series.
Correspondent Tamara Pimentel spoke to families who have children that are not included on a band’s roll for one reason or another.
She wrote for APTN Investigates with her documentary Memberships Denied in the fall of 2019 – but the story didn’t stop there.
There are other families who are having trouble registering their child with their bands.
Tamara shares the stories of two same sex couples who cannot get their kids registered.
One parent, Wayne Wallace of the Madawaska Maliseet Nation in New Brunswick, has been trying to get his twin boys registered but is having trouble because his children were born via surrogate.
Two eggs were fertilized, one by Wallace, one by his husband.
Both implanted into the same surrogate and born as twins but only one is registered with the band.
One child, who is the biological child of Wallace is registered, but the biological child of his Australian husband has not been allowed to register.
The custom code of the band requires DNA testing and to be blood related to be registered.
But Wallace doesn’t think that is how his community is meant to look at membership and that the code is based on colonial ways of seeing how a person is Indigenous.
“I view it in a completely different way, it’s a part of kinship, it’s part of family. And individual shouldn’t be discriminated because of the fact they are not blood related to their family,” Wallace says.
He says there are other band members who are not blood related and are registered in his community, so why not his son?
Another same sex couple in Stoney Nakoda First Nation in Alberta, are having trouble getting their son registered with the band.
After talking to them, she found other families who were having similar issues in other communities.
Guest host Rick Harp and Pimentel were joined by Albert McLeod to discuss how children of same sex marriages should be recognized weather they are biological children or adopted.
“Well I think in this case we have parents who are members so they are petitioning for their children to become members. I don’t know why there needs to be this song and dance about that. We recognize the rights of those parents as members. Instead of welcoming them and celebrating them, we’re attacking them.” McLeod stated.
Tamara Pimentel says it took a lot of courage for the families to share these stories.
“I think that can do a lot of damage to somebody growing up realizing that they are not really a part of their own community,” she says.