Aseniwuche Winewak Nation

Membership Code

Roadmap to Membership

  • Introductory conversations between Urban Matters and Aseniwuche community leaders and champions
  • Community-wide engagement and dialogue to address areas requiring member input and decision-making for a complete Citizenship Code
  • Legal review and revisions as required
  • Ratification: three official readings, legal review, processing
AWN youth outside playing and laughing
Citizenship is a political and legal concept that profoundly impacts individuals and families’ sense of identity and belonging…a formal Citizenship Code [can] either serve to further divide the community or to bring the community back together. The open and welcoming working group meetings and these Elder and youth directed activities…centred and embodied the grounded and inclusive nature of belonging, of wahkohtowin (all our relationships) and miyo-wichetowin (creating good relations) in the AWN community. These principles and practices remain the core of AWN’s on-going citizenship work.
Excerpts from the AWN Citizenship Report by Dr. Shalene Jobin and Dr. Hadley Friedland,
Co-Leads, Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge,
University of Alberta, December, 2020.

Our Journey Here

In October 2018, Aseniwuche Winewak Nation asked the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge (WLGL) to partner on a community-led Citizenship and Governance project, with the primary goal of developing a Membership Code and supporting resources. This work built on broader governance work AWN had started related to constitution-building in 2014, community meetings in January and February 2018 and a community workshop on Indigenous Citizenship delivered by Dr. Damien Lee on June 2, 2018. The focus on citizenship resulted from a strong suggestion by Canada in the context of a Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self Determination (RIRSD) negotiation table.

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An AWN Membership Working Group was formed by Aseniwuche Winewak member volunteers who responded to an open call at a community meeting in October 2018. Research support, public legal education and drafting was provided by the WLGL team funded by the Alberta Law Foundation as well as research assistance and student support from the Faculty of Native Studies and the Faculty of Law. It was supervised by WLGL Co-Leads, Dr. Shalene Jobin and Dr. Hadley Friedland. AWN hosted community engagement events and activities funded through grants provided by Alberta and Canada.

The AWN Membership Project was guided by repeated reminders from Elders and younger people that they saw themselves as one community, so the focus of citizenship and governance work should be to rebuild and reunite the entire community. The project was community-led and used multiple complementary Indigenous research methods to achieve the goals of the Membership Working Group:

  • First, to develop a draft Membership Code for community review and ratification that reflects AWN’s unique people, history, legal traditions and circumstances.
  • Second, to work toward the first goal in an inclusive and transparent way, so the process builds trust and strengthens a sense of shared purpose, identity and belonging for individuals and the community as a whole.

Community Engagement

In January 2021, AWN engaged Urban Matters to continue important Citizenship work. This includes in-depth community engagement to address remaining gaps requiring community input in the working Citizenship Code draft. The goal is to have a final Citizenship Code that is an accurate and genuine reflection of the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation and that the community feels confident and proud to vote to ratify. The team at Urban Matters began phone and virtual meetings with community members in April 2021, hosted an open house in August 2021 and returned in November 2021 to facilitate further discussions with community members and the Membership Working Group.

Get Involved

There are 3 ways you can be involved in this work:

1. Membership Code Working Group: A team of community members that have the capacity and desire to volunteer 10 to 15 hours from January to April 2022 to address in detail elements of the draft code. This is not a closed group. If you would like to be a part of this working group, we would love to have you.

2. Community Engagement Opportunities: Purposeful gatherings to get feedback from the community. These will be designed to be flexible and open so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to share their perspectives.

3. One-on-One Conversations: We always welcome one-on-one conversations with anyone who wants to share their perspective in a more intimate format. If this is of interest to you, please reach out to Courteney Wanyandie-Smith, and this will be prioritized.

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Next Steps

Moving forward, Urban Matters and AWN proposed the following timeline to make further progress.

January 2022: Convene the Membership Working Group to go through the entire draft code including validating revising key elements of the current draft code, working through outstanding questions and issues, and co-designing a community outreach approach for soliciting broader community feedback on the draft. Working sessions will also focus on what the code needs to be able to do to set the community up for long-term success.

February 2022: Community outreach to share what is being proposed in the draft code. Major themes of feedback will be captured and brought to the Working Group to go through.

March 2022: Working Group session to address specific issues that surfaced in February’s community engagement process.

April 2022: The Working Group will present the membership code to the AWN Board of Directors. This presentation will seek feedback from the Board regarding the membership code’s content.

May 2022: Community review of membership code and final Working Group session to address any outstanding issues. In May, we intend to hold a community celebration that closes out this phase of the project and thank one another for their commitment and dedication. 

Download a copy of the Membership Work timeline shared with the AWN community in December 2021.

AWN Backgrounder

Download a copy of the AWN Backgrounder provided to Canada for the RIRSD Table Negotiations


7 Cree Principles

Supplementary work exploring the foundational values of the community as told by Elders

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We are Aseniwuche winewak
A Film by Aseniwuche Youth

Another important component of this research process was a youth-led film project, where community youth worked with two Indigenous filmmakers, Jodi Stonehouse and AWN community member Chehala Leonard, to create a short film focused on AWN’s unique identity and history. The film debuted at the spring gathering in April 2019.