Members of Enoch Cree Nation searching for answers about their land

Papin and Gladue family denied housing rights due to administrative errors and discrimination

Marilyn and Pauline Papin, an aunt and a niece living in Enoch Cree Nation, say that they haven’t been allowed by the nation to build houses on the land where they have valid certificates of possession because of poor record keeping and the band’s seeming refusal to recognize the errors.

“This did a lot to my family,” said Marilyn, “especially to my mom. She was an alcoholic and when she was deleted from the membership she just went on drinking sprees. She was clean for a long time before that.”

But Marilyn said her band won’t recognize her certificate of possession, or CP for short.

Indigenous Services Canada defines a CP as, “Documentary evidence of a Band/First Nation member’s right to lawful possession of reserve lands described therein pursuant to the Indian Act.”

According to the federal government, the CP holder has the rights to the use of the land, and rights are transferrable by sale or to be passed on in a will. Because of this, any proposed development on CP land requires a contract with the person who holds the certificate.

APTN News reached out to Enoch Cree Nation and neither the chief, nor the membership manager would answer any questions about the issue.

Other members of the band, including, Roberta Gladue, have concerns about land and membership administration in Enoch Cree Nation.

Gladue said she’d hoped to live on her grandfather’s land, just on the edge of the capital city, Edmonton.

Instead, she told APTN News that, instead, she had to build a house in a more densely built area within the community.

She said the issues seem to come from poor record keeping, statistical inaccuracies intensified by colonialism and the discriminatory treatment of First Nations women under the Indian Act.

According to Marilyn, her mother Dorothy Papin, was supposed to receive a new house but it was given to someone else without an explanation as to why.

Marilyn was also enfranchised when she was eight years old after her mother married a non-Indigenous man.

It was a common practice to remove Indian status from women who married non-native men until a 1985 amendment to the Indian Act eliminated the idea of enfranchisement. But the change had real consequences for Marilyn, who was being raised by her grandmother.

“I found out that they took my status away. I couldn’t ride the bus or go to school,” said Marilyn.
Marilyn said her issues come from the fact her mother’s name was listed incorrectly in vital statistic records Her mother’s real name is Dorothy Hazel Papin – but is listed on her enfranchisement documents as Dorothy May Papin.

“They [Enoch Cree Nation] said she wasn’t a band member when she was,” said Marilyn. “They try to say she wasn’t from here when I had a number in front of chief and council,” she said.

There are other errors that have popped up, things that the families have said they find suspicious.

Marilyn Papin and Gladue point to documents that show their mother’s treaty number was assigned to a Baby Morin in Enoch Cree Nation records.

“There was not a baby Morin in our family in 1964,” Marilyn told APTN News.

Pauline told APTN that her dad, John Papin, was deleted from a membership list.

“I don’t understand that but yet they left my mom on the list. My dad’s name was not even on my mom’s will,” said Pauline.

She feels that this is why the band isn’t honouring their CP.

“When my son went to build his house on my land [Enoch] told him no,” she said.

APTN reached out to Crown Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services about CP land.

“If a member believes that a Certificate of Possession has been wrongly leased or sold they can appeal. Whether the Certificate of Possession has been issued under the Indian Act or the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management Act, they can send an appeal to the Minister of Indigenous Services by approaching the regional office, or to the land code First Nation, which would seek to investigate the situation. They may also resort to the courts,” said Ryan Tyndall, spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada.

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Indian agent error cost family on Enoch Cree Nation their land and trust fund

Difficulty tracking births and marriages

Gladue has learned a lot about Enoch Cree Nation in her attempts to get her and her family records corrected.

In her research, Gladue found a letter written by Donald Mackie in 1920. The acting deputy registrar general of the Department of Indian Affairs said that the vital statistics branch had “considerable difficulty in operating the Vital Statistics Act on the Indian Reserve in Alberta.”

“Registration of births, marriages and deaths are not received from the reserve in anything approaching completeness,” said the letter.

APTN reached out to Chief Cody Thomas who directed us to an Enoch membership manager. She declined to speak to APTN for this story saying that she was not familiar with the situation which happened before she began working there.

The manager declined to provide the contact information for her predecessor.

Gladue has been dealing with these errors since 2017 when her grandfather John Baptiste Yellowcalf, died. Gladue said that is when she realized there were issues with the family records.

She has been speaking to Indian Registry since she discovered errors.

“It’s my understanding that YOU were adopted is that correct,” wrote a land management officer for Indigenous Services Canada in an email to Gladue.

“I thought ‘ok why would they say I am adopted?” said Gladue. She started researching her family’s birth records at that point.

She has been sent back and forth between the band administration and Indian Registries.

I don’t know what they are doing. My question is how come no one is listening to a court order?” said Gladue.

Indian Registries told her that her family estate was under investigation.

“My grandfather’s estate is still open and all I want is corrections,” said Gladue.

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