The New Brunswick Association of Metis and Non-Status Indian, now the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council was formally organized in May, 1972 when an interim Executive was elected. In August, 1972 the organization became an incorporated non-profit organization under the laws of New Brunswick. The founding assembly was held at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton with 20 delegates in attendance. The organization has grown significantly over the years. There are 16 locals at present time.
The New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council is affiliated with a national organization, The Congress of Aboriginal People (CAP), formerly the Native Council of Canada. CAP is located in Ottawa, Ontario, representing over 1,034,260 Off-Reserve Aboriginal People across Canada.
In the Province of New Brunswick, we are organized in community local organizations as well as a provincial body for the purpose of administration and communications, and the province is broken down into seven zones. A Board of Director is elected from each zone.
When the organization was formed in August of 1972 the only funding received was a grant from the Department of Secretary of State which paid for Executive and Communication Fieldworkers and the cost of running an office.
Over the years the organization has endeavoured to improve the social and economic standards of the Off-Reserve Aboriginal People of New Brunswick, and in so doing we have implemented long term programs such as Housing, Economic Development, etc. We have had in operation many short projects which afforded the organization the opportunity to do feasibility studies, prepare information packages, audio visual presentations, brochures, and many other historical and educational aids vital to the strength and positions of the Off-Reserve Aboriginal People of New Brunswick.
The organization has also taken a high profile politically, making presentations on our Inherent Right to Self-Government, and have done extensive Housing surveys and have presented comprehensive briefs to both Provincial and Federal Governments.
The New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC), but was once called the New Brunswick Association of Metis and Non-Status Indians. We, at the Council are an Off-Reserve Aboriginal voice for approximately 28,260 Status and Non-Status Aboriginal People who reside in the Province of New Brunswick.
In New Brunswick, our members are widely dispersed throughout the Province in villages, towns, cities, and rural areas. They are people of Aboriginal Ancestry for whom the NB provides services, programs, and a political voice for their concerns.
Biologically and culturally, we are Aboriginal People. However, some of us are not recognized under Canadian law as “Indian” people. This discertion were several methods that the government employed to accomplish this.
When the government of Canada decided to register all Indian people, a large number of people did not register. Some did not know they were supposed to register, some were afraid to acknowledge their heritage and some were deliberately left off by the government officials and now they and their children are, in the eyes of the government, not entitled. Some people were enfranchised. This discriminatory practice allowed the government to buy back status for a sum of money which was supposed to represent the individuals share of band funds. This was both a voluntary or involuntary process and in many instances parents sold the birth rights of minor children.
Perhaps the best known way pertains to status women marrying a Non-Native or Non-Status individual or the children who were born as a result of these marriages. This is by far the most publicly known means by which a person became Non-Indian. The government, in 1985, after many years of pressure from Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people and organizations, including the UN, decided that they should attempt to fix the damage this discriminatory act had caused our people. Bill C-31 became a tool with which the government imposed to fix this hurt. This bill allowed those who had been negatively impacted by 12, 1, B of the Indian Act and their first generation children to register as status Indians. It has become painfully obvious that this change has not been the answer to our problems. This change did nothing to address the other discriminatory practices of the Indian Act and how it applied to the Off-Reserve. At this time , the struggle for equality of treatment and equity of access to programs and services for the Off-Reserve, is still on-going.
As a result, a great many of our people, who were Non-Status Indians in the early 70’s , when we began, are today registered Indians.
It should be noted that while they are Status Indians, for the most part, they have not moved to Reserves and are still represented by N.B.A.P.C.
With the implementation of Bill C-31, the discriminations mentioned above were disposed of. The federal governments objective in the amendment of the Indian Act was based on three fundamental principals:
- All discrimination be removed from the Indian Act.
- Indian status within the meaning of the Indian Act and band membership rights be restored to people who lost them.
- Indian Bands have the right to control their own membership.
Only a few programs are available to persons living off reserve. Within the limits of available funds, these include post-secondary education and some non-insured health.