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Indigenous Identity in the Corporation of Canada

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby and welcome to the corporation of Canada!

Soon the corporation will be handing out all the identification labels for your new baby to help them ease into the corporation as smoothly as possible. This is something that might be hard for parents of newborns living within the geographical borders of the corporation of Canada to understand, so we’ve come up with this little cheat sheet to help you out!

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby and welcome to the corporation of Canada!

Soon the corporation will be handing out all the identification labels for your new baby to help them ease into the corporation as smoothly as possible. This is something that might be hard for parents of newborns living within the geographical borders of the corporation of Canada to understand, so we’ve come up with this little cheat sheet to help you out!

Let’s say that two women deliver babies at the same time, on the same day and in the same hospital room. Baby A is born to a Canadian family from Hagersville with no indigenous heritage. He is beautiful, ten fingers, ten toes and smells like that “fresh baby smell”. The next day the government issues a Birth Certificate and a Social Insurance Number solidifying his identity in the corporation of Canada. He. Is. Canadian.

The mother next to her gives birth to Baby B. He is born to an indigenous family living on Six Nations. Baby B has ten fingers, ten toes and smells like “fresh baby”. He is loved, he is beautiful, and he is also issued a Birth Certificate and a Social Insurance Number solidifying his identity into the corporation of Canada.

But Baby B is the descendant of ‘Indians’. Therefore he is given a third number. This additional classification of humanity “entitles” Baby B to Indian Status as recognized by the corporation of Canada. He. Is. “An Indian within the meaning of the Indian Act, chapter 27, Statutes of Canada (1985)”. (Please Note: Babies born to parents who are of actual Indian descent from the country of India do not qualify for ‘Indian Status’.)

Now let’s say there is a third mother giving birth to Baby Boy C. He has ten fingers and ten toes, he’s beautiful, smells of freshness, and is also indigenous. However Baby Boy C’s ancestors didn’t quite make the cut when Canada was labelling people ‘Indian’ or ‘White’. Therefore since Baby C was born post-1985 he is called ‘non’ status. He. Is. First Nations. Or is he? Honestly nobody really knows within the government offices and as a result I regret to inform you that he doesn’t qualify for the health coverage and education provisions his ancestors negotiated for him over the last two centuries of covenant making with the corporation of Canada. He gets a Birth Certificate and he gets a Social Insurance Number, but unfortunately he doesn’t meet the ‘Indian’ standard of identification within the corporation. He. Is. Disinherited.

Within the corporation we have our Metis babies. The Metis Nation are the descendants of the Cree and French voyageurs who formed a new hybrid nation around the time of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Beaver Fur Trade. However the waters have since become a little muddied. Nobody really agrees within the corporation as to who is Metis and who isn’t, so we passed that on to the Provinces and Territories within the corporation to sort out. Thanks fellas! Metis babies are judged case by case, depending on who their parents are, who their ancestors were and where they happen to live. (Please Note: when applying for Metis status for your baby it is also a good idea to make sure you have no enemies in the Metis Nation office where your application is being considered as rez rules do apply within the Metis community.)

Now, until 1985, white mothers who married men with ‘Indian’ status were granted status and became “An Indian within the meaning of the Indian Act.” This gave a whole bunch of non-indigenous women actual ‘Indian’ status. This means that there potentially could be non-indigenous babies receiving health coverage and education benefits in their future. Whoopsies!

On the flip side, pre-1985 indigenous mothers who married white men lost ‘status’ and weren’t considered “An Indian within the meaning of the Indian Act…” anymore. I regret to inform you that that any babies born to the descendants of indigenous women under this classification will have to fall under the ‘non’ status qualification as we don’t have enough money within the corporation to pay for your baby’s health care and education. However, there is a process you can begin to restore your ‘Indian’ status within the corporation. You just fill out some forms and make your way down to the Band Office and follow the sounds of screaming and shouting down to the door labelled ‘C-31’. They’ll be happy to help you out.

In the meantime, Fear not! We within the corporation have compiled a list of big oil companies and financial institutions that would be happy to train your babies for full time jobs once they reach the age of majority.

Now would you please rise for the singing of our national anthem…

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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1 Comment

  • Tiio Horn
    April 6, 2014, 5:27 pm

    nice! love this piece. what a smart gal.

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