NWT Métis Nation seeks funding to complete membership list

NWT Métis Nation seeks funding to complete membership list

The NWT Métis Nation has requested federal dollars to help complete and confirm a list of its membership — information that could help determine the size of its land claim.

Membership requirements include being an Indigenous person of Cree, Slavey or Chipewyan ancestry who resided in, used and occupied any part of the "Agreement Area" on or before December 31, 1921, or a descendant of such person.

That area includes the communities of Fort Resolution, Hay River, and Fort Smith.

Garry Bailey, president of the NWT Métis Nation, said there are about 2,000 names on the list so far. He said work on the list is about half complete.

He expects the final list to expand to at least 2,500 names.

"We have applied for a couple hundred thousand dollars to continue the work. And I think the commitment will be there after meeting with the federal government on these issues," Bailey said.

"We know who we are. We know where we are. We just got to make sure that everyone who applies fits that criteria."

Bailey said a genealogist has been hired to help work through those challenges.

He is also calling on the federal and territorial government to correlate any future land claim offers with the size of the NWT Métis Nation's membership.

"The government has to show us a formula, which they have never done to date," Bailey said.

"For us, its seems like they have taken a number out of a hat and said here is your offer, take it or leave it.

"I think having a proper enumeration process would inform the table and they will be able to come up with a fair offer based on membership."

Bailey said the membership list should be completed no later than December.

He said no applicants are being rejected at this stage of the process, however, questionable claims will be required to provide more documentation.

Last week, the federal and territorial government promised to deliver a new offer to the NWT Métis Nation by the middle of May.

Bailey is hopeful a final agreement can be completed within two years.