Around 1850, the British colonial government began recording the names of Indians who were members of Bands that had signed Treaties. Those records became the basis for paylists, which identified who was eligible for payments and interest benefits agreed to under the Treaties.
In 1857, the colonial government passed legislation aimed at assimilating Indian peoples into non-Indian society. Any male or unmarried female over age 21 who applied to relinquish his/her legal status as an Indian and who met the educational, economic, and moral standards set out in the legislation, could be enfranchised or "no longer deemed to be an Indian".
In return, he or she gained legal rights that had been reserved only for non-Indians. It was often referred to as "voluntary enfranchisement" because male Indians were then allowed to vote in federal elections -- a right that was not extended to all Indians until 1960.
Eventually, Canadian law allowed the Federal government to impose enfranchisement in a variety of situations. If, for example, an Indian acquired a degree in any profession, or became a licensed minister of the Christian gospel, or was a child or spouse of a man who was enfranchised, or was a woman who married a non-Indian man etc..., that person could be enfranchised.
From around the 1870s to the mid-1900s, many people in Killarney gave up or lost their legal rights as Indians. Some "sold their status" to the Government, using the funds to build homes for their families. (Some Indians were allotted a life estate in land on the Reserve, while some received one per capita share of the Band's assets.)
In 1951, the Indian Register was created, consolidating all the records relating to Indian peoples. Registered (status) Indians have rights and benefits that unregistered (non-status) Indians do not.
In 1985, Bill C-31 repealed the discriminatory laws surrounding registration, allowing enfranchised Indians and/or their descendants to regain their legal rights.
Many Killarney people have restored their Indian status. Others had joined and remain with Metis or non-Status Indian organizations. For many years, various members of the de la Morandiere family tried to reclaim their status. The Department of Indian Affairs repeatedly ruled that de la Morandiere ancestors could not be identified as Indians.
Early in 2001, this writer found evidence of the family's Indian status in the records archive of Indian Affairs. It was a file containing an 1875 enfranchisement request for three de la Morandiere brothers: Charles Alfred, Pierre Regis, and Dominique.
The file contained three documents. The first, dated January 22nd, 1875, is a letter from J.C. Phipps, the Indian Agent stationed at Manitowaning, to the Dept. of the Interior, Indian Branch. Phipps names and describes each brother, states they are members of Spanish River Band, and notifies the Department of their requests to be enfranchised.
The second document is a memo from L. Vankoughnet, the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, to Agent Phipps. It is dated March 18th, 1875.
In the memo, Vankoughnet states an Indian is held to be enfranchised upon the granting of a life estate in some portion of the Reserve. He then notes the applications might not be accepted because the Reserve belonging to Spanish River Band has never been surrendered or surveyed. Therefore, he states, one can not assess what proportion of the Reserve should be allotted to each of the brothers.
The third document is dated March 24th, 1875. It is also addressed to Agent Phipps. It is unsigned, but on it are the initials of L. Vankoughnet. The letter-writer advised Phipps to meet with the Spanish River Band in Council to propose "that they should state what quantity of land on the Reserve they are willing each of the applicants should receive a Patent for". Further details of the brothers' enfranchisement are unknown.
Using the Indian Affairs records described above, the first of the de la Morandiere descendants to gain Indian status through recognition of his de la Morandiere ancestors was reinstated in February 2002. He lives in Killarney and is now a member of Wikwemikong First Nation.
The children of Charles de la Morandiere Sr. and Josephte Sheppard were Treaty Indians, members of the Sagamok Band (later called Spanish River Band, now Sagamok Anishnawbek). It was the Band of their mother, Josephte Sheppard, also known as Me ah we zhence. It was also the Band of their paternal grandmother, Josephte Saisaigonokwe (woman of the falling snow), who was the wife of Etienne de la Morandiere.
Charles Sr. was born in Michigan, USA. According to the writings of his son, Pierre Regis, Charles Sr. was never listed with a Band in Canada.
After the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850, Pierre Regis and his siblings were listed with the Ojibwe Band of their mother and grandmother.
Descendants and relatives of Pierre Regis and Virginie may be interested to know that Virginie (nee Roque) was also a member of Spanish River Band, from her birth in 1851. Her Ojibwe name was Miziwek. Virginie's mother was Marguerite Recollet. Marguerite was also a member of Spanish River Band and was formerly known as Marguerite Akwewok. Around the 1860s, the Department of Indian Affairs began listing Marguerite Recollet/Akwewok and her children on the paylist of Wahnapitae Band. Until at least 1905, neither Marguerite nor Viginie were aware that the Department had moved them from one Band list to the other.
To see transcriptions of the de la Morandiere enfranchisement documents discussed in this article, click here
de la Morandiere)
Foremother of all the de la Morandiere families of Killarney