OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Lands and Resources Director Lonny Bomberry says the proposed Six Nations Citizenship Code is a necessary protective measure ahead of the federal government’s June 1 changes to the community’s band list.
On June 1, Bill S-3 comes into effect — adding persons who can demonstrate a single indigenous ancestor dating as far back as 1869 to the current band list.
For Six Nations, Bomberry says that change could potentially see up to 100,000 people added to Six Nations membership list by Ottawa on June 1 — likely with no family ties to the community or cultural experience as an indigenous person — all with little to no say by Six Nations itself.
Bomberry says Six Nations had to respond quickly to Canada’s plans to change the membership list — and started exploratory talks with the federal and provincial governments in 2015.
One of the proposed solutions was that Ottawa would maintain the list of federal Status Indians but that Six Nations could create it’s own Citizenship Code – one that would preserve the community’s culture and Haudenosaunee identity — and protect Six Nations resources, lands and infrastructures by ensuring only Six Nations recognized citizens with 50% or more Six Nations Haudenosaunee ancestry could access community benefits.
The proposed code would also allow Haudenosaunee people who reside in the US but have a community family connection to Six Nations, to also be granted citizenship, allowing them access to community health and social services, allow them to reside on the territory and own land and other benefits that they can not receive as US citizens who are federally not Status Indians and not Canadian.
Bomberry says the proposed Citizenship code would provide a separate citizenship card to Six Nations citizens. That identification would provide recognized Six Nations citizens with access to services like post-secondary funding, permission to own land on the territory, get housing, health, welfare and social services at Six Nations of the Grand River.
On June 1, Bill S-3 will grant Indian Status to “all descendants of those Indian women who married non-Indians after September 4, 1951”. Bomberry says this means the potential is there for people who are 1/32 Indigenous or less to be added to the band registry.
Bomberry says current band members will be granted citizenship but that new registrants will have to prove 50% or more of Six Nations Haudenosaunee ancestry to be added to the list.
The Citizenship Code was drafted in January 2019 and went through 14 revisions until it was ready for public distribution and a referendum vote.
“We finally have something that we think is ready to go and we think people will accept,” said Bomberry. “We will stop all that mass registration of people into our list who have no connection to the territory and little to no indigenous blood.”
Bomberry says, “If we don’t do anything it’s a major step toward assimilation – we’ll have no control over added people with no connection to reserve.”
If the proposed Citizenship code is accepted in the referendum vote, a citizenship commission and citizenship tribunal will be established to determine further details in how the code would be implemented.
There are ongoing information sessions in the community on the Citizenship Code throughout Community Awareness Week at the Our Sustenance Cabin, 2676 4th Line on Six Nations on May 15-16 between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and again at 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m..
Voting on the Citizenship Code is open now online through to June 1, 2019. Band Members must have their band number, date of birth, phone number and an email address in order to participate. Online voting can be done by visiting https://onefeather.ca/nations/sixnations and follow the instructions provided.
In person Referendum votes are scheduled for an Advanced Poll on May 25, 2019 at the Six Nations Community Hall; 1738 4th Line from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m..
The Regular Poll will be held on Saturday June 1, 2019 at the Six Nations Tourism Building; 2498 Chiefswood Road from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m..
All band members 18 years of age and older can participate in the vote with one piece of photo identification. Band members who are not Six Nations residents are also eligible to vote.