Aseniwuche Winewak Nation

Citizenship Code

Roadmap to Citizenship

  • 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 Citizenship 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 was the result of 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 Citizenship and Governance 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 which were funded through grants provided by Alberta and Canada.

The AWN Citizenship 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 Citizenship and Working Group:

  • First, to develop a draft Citizenship 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.

AWN Youth

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

AWN Backgrounder

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

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7 Cree Principles

Learn About the 7 Cree principles

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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. The hope is that COVID-19 gathering restrictions will allow us to host an open house in the near future where the community can come out and learn more about the Code and how to be involved in its further development.