N.W.T. Métis Nation membership drive underway, members will have say in final land claim

Northwest Territories Métis Nation membership drive underway with more than 3,000 already registered.

Members will have deciding vote on Canada’s 1st Métis land claim

‎Jason Lepine, left, is the registry manager for the Northwest Territories Métis Nation, and Kelsey Heron, is a registries officer. More than 3,000 are already registered. (Josh Campbell/CBC)

A membership drive for the Northwest Territories Métis Nation is underway. It started last week in Yellowknife. 

To become a member, applicants must have a Métis, Cree, Slavey or Chipewyan ancestor who lived in the South Slave region on or before Dec. 31, 1921.

Singer-songwriter John Tees is one of 90 people from Yellowknife applying to become a member of the N.W.T. Métis Nation.

Tees is also a former member of the North Slave Métis Alliance. After doing some of his own research he found the names Delorme and Savard in his family tree.

"It's a good thing this Northwest Territories Métis [organization] come along ... maybe there's a place for us there," Tees said. 

Jason Lepine is the registries manager. He said a genealogist as well as records from the Hudson's Bay Company, Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith and Census are helping his team screen through the applications.

The N.W.T. Métis Nation is involved in a long-standing land claim process with federal and territorial governments.

"There's never been a Métis land claim in Canada. This will be the first of it's kind, and that in itself is the importance of the entire process," Lepine said Friday.

"Apart from that, our requirements are far more strict than the Métis National Council or any other Métis association across the country."

The N.W.T. Métis Nation starting enrolling members back in 1996. Lepine estimates there are about 3,000 already enrolled in the membership, and expects the membership list could grow to 5,000.

Tees said he looks forward to getting an N.W.T. Métis status card, which would allow him to vote on the eventual land claim.

The next intake of applications will be in Hay River from Feb. 2-4, 2018.