A self-governing organization that represents 3,500 Mi’kmaq and Indigenous members living off-reserve in Nova Scotia is facing an allegation that says proposed by-law changes being voted on at this weekend’s annual general meeting will impact the organization.
The report titled Indigenous Identity Fraud within NCNS and obtained by APTN News, was submitted to the Native Council of Nova Scotia (NCNS). It says that more than 300 members should be removed due to the author’s research which found they do not have Indigenous ancestry.
Pierre Sabourin, the former NCNS citizen information officer delivered a report detailing the allegations about the removal of the more than 300 members on August 8, 2023 upon his resignation from his position.
NCNS Chief and President Lorraine Augustine sent an email statement on Aug. 31, 2023 to APTN confirming they received the report but wrote that the release of the material breached the contractual confidentiality obligations of the author of the report, and that the report alleges fraud against the individuals named.
“The allegation of fraud is defamatory and carries serious consequences for those who this unfounded allegation is directed towards,” she wrote. “Any third party who participates in the release of this information and publicizes the defamation will also attract liability.”
Sabourin declined an interview request but confirmed that he wrote the report.
The report contains names of individual families involved but APTN is not publishing the names.
Sabourin alleges that the move to change the bylaws proposed for the Sept. 16, 2023 NCNS annual general meeting, “seems designed to protect the 300+ members who should be removed.”
The organization’s current bylaws say that full members “must” have documented evidence of “Native Aboriginal ancestry” and that membership will be revoked if the person ceases to qualify.
According to the 2015 NCNS membership application, applicants must provide documents that prove a clear biological connection between each generation of family ancestry “from you to all Mi’kmaw/Aboriginal ancestors.”
Sabourin wrote in a letter dated Aug. 8, 2023 that changes to the bylaws being proposed will now give the board of directors the power to remove membership “in poorly defined situations,” and will add sections that “will force mandatory acceptance of documents based on broad categories while ignoring genealogical standards of evidence.”
The NCNS was formed in 1974 and represents over 3,500 people living off reserve – with or without status according to its website, which says members self identify as Mi’kmaw, claim ancestry and connection to a community.
In the email statement to APTN, Augustine wrote said, “The Native Council of Nova Scotia has always approached the issue of membership with integrity and will continue to do so.”
She did not respond to follow up questions asking if the proposed bylaws were in response to the report written by Sabourin.
Augustine has not responded to APTN’s interview requests.