Why the names of dead people remain on a First Nations band list

A member of the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen, near Pickle Lake, Ont., says the official list of band members includes people who are long dead.

Paul Machimity says his mother died 3 years ago but remains the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen band list

Concerned citizens from the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen say they went to Ottawa to get a copy of their band list. (Jody Porter/CBC )

A member of the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen First Nation near Pickle Lake, Ont., says the official list of band members includes people who are long dead.

A group of concerned citizens from the community appealed to Indigenous Affairs for a copy of the band list when their chief and council refused to release it, according to Paul Machimity.

Machimity said he was shocked to see his mother's name on the 2016 official listing of community members.

"It's just like the life drained out of me [seeing the list] saying she's alive and well, living on the reserve, meanwhile I buried her three years ago," Machimity said. 

His mother, Clara Machimity is listed as an 'active' member, living on reserve, according to the documents.

"I don't know why they didn't remove her because the chief and his family were at my mother's funeral and they can't say they didn't know about it," Machimity said.

CBC News left messages at the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen band office but did not receive any return calls.

Machimity said there are other people named on the list who have been dead for years and many people listed as living on the reserve when they do not.

'We don't recognize half the names'

There are 233 names in total.

"We don't recognize half the names [on the list]," said Darlene Necan, one of the concerned citizens. " I want to question this. We need people to explain this."

Both Machimity and Necan say their efforts to get answers from their chief and council have been stymied.

Machimity said he's concerned the leadership is using the inflated band list to receive funding that is being withheld from community members, like him, who do not live on reserve.

A spokesperson for the department of Indigenous Affairs said some of its funding formulas do take population into account but the department "does not provide or track funding on a per capita basis."

Most funding from Indigenous Affairs, except post-secondary student support, is "for the benefit of on-reserve members," Valerie Hache said in an email to CBC News.

As for the accuracy of the band list, Hache said Indigenous Afairs relies on First Nations and family members to notify them and provide supporting documentation when a community member dies.