More than 10,000 members of Qalipu First Nation have had their membership revoked - APTN NewsAPTN News

More than 10,000 members of Qalipu First Nation have had their membership revoked



Trina Roache
APTN National News
The controversial application process for joining the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador is over. Out of more than 100,000 applicants, 18,044 have been accepted as founding members of the band. , and another 10,512 who were originally members of the band and granted Indian Status, have been rejected.

What stands out is that 10,512 who were originally members of the band and granted Indian Status, have been rejected.

Kelly Anne Butler received her letter of acceptance in the mail but said she isn’t celebrating.

“I feel terrible for being accepted,” said Butler about those who had their status taken away.

The Qalipu band originally had close to 24,000 members. Of that number, only 13, 365 current band members will retain status.

“I am shocked at the number that’s being dropped,” said Butler. “When I looked at that number – 10, 512 – that just broke me.”

Butler has spent the last few days talking to people who are dealing with the trauma of losing membership, or families who are divided because some have been getting accepted while siblings, parents or relatives are denied.

“I think that what we’re seeing is the beginning of a serious mental wellness issue,” said Butler. “Some people are depressed. Some people are angry, some people aren’t speaking to family members.”

The Qalipu band was formed in 2008 with predictions for a band size ranging between 8,700 and 12,000 people.

Initial concerns were that the Qalipu’s membership would be too small but by 2011, the concerns were focused on the credibility of the band as 104,000 applications flooded in. In an effort to whittle that number down, a supplemental agreement was put in place in 2013 and the applications were assessed again.

“We haven’t fixed it at all, now it’s worse,” said Butler. “On paper, it will look okay. The federal government and band have a manageable number. If people are just numbers you have a perfect situation. But people aren’t just numbers. Now we have a community of people who are traumatized again and there’s going to be fallout from that.”

During the assessment, people either needed to prove they self-identified before 2008 or that they maintained a connection to Mi’kmaw communities in Newfoundland, through frequent visits home or phone calls.

The biggest reason is for the rejections is people who live away and were unable to prove that substantial community connection. Only 1,000 people from out of province have been accepted.

Butler calls the whole enrollment process “a colossal failure from the start.”

Todd LaSaga grew up in the Mi’kmaw community of Flat Bay, NL but his career in the military took him away. He’s retired now and lives in Nova Scotia and has been accepted as a founding member of the Qalipu band.

“Relieved in one sense,” said LaSaga. “But in another sense, there’s still a lot more people out there that are waiting to find out.”

Much of LaSaga’s daily cultural activity is tied to Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia. But he is involved with his home community, volunteering to help with band administration. He goes home when he can. He had membership in the Federation of Newfoundland Indians; proof he self-identified as Mi’kmaq and had phone records to show he called home.

“The unfortunate part is, source documentation doesn’t give you the identity of who you are,” said LaSaga. “It gives you information to give to the government so that they can decide who you are…but it’s not going to change me as a person, I’m still going to be the same person.”

A criticism levelled at the enrollment criteria has been that it ties identity to geography. Indigenous people can move from their home community and still retain Indian status and identity. Once Qalipu’s band list is finalized, those accepted members will gain or keep their Indian status cards and then the Indian Act rules apply.

But the goal of enrollment has been to come up with a founding members list for the Qalipu band, in a process meant to mirror how Indian Act bands did it historically. The chief of a reserve would list who lived there.

Butler says that doesn’t work with a landless band, in a modern context, where people move for work or other reasons.

“Trying to take that model and put it in the 21st century is evidence of how antiquated and ridiculous the Indian Act is,” said Butler. “If you cannot fit that model in today’s world as a starting point than there’s something wrong with it.”

20,000 people have been granted the right to appeal. But those appeals will be judged by what’s already on the record; no new information can be added.

The deadline for a appeal is March 17, 2017. A decision on those applications will be made by the end of September.

And the final list founding members list for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation will be confirmed by the spring of 2018.

The MI’kmaq First Nations Assembly of Newfoundland is already gathering information for what it deems is an inevitable court battle.

When Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada in 1949, Indigenous people in the province were not recognized under the Indian Act. The formation of the Qalipu band was a way to correct that.

With 18,000 members, Qalipu is now the second largest band in Canada.

troache@aptn.ca

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13 Responses to “More than 10,000 members of Qalipu First Nation have had their membership revoked”

  1. Andreatdoucette@gmail.com'
    Andrea February 8, 2017 at 1:29 am #

    I am a person affected by this decision. In 2008 myself, my father, brother and our two kids each become members of FNI. In 2011 we were granted our scis cards. Yesterday my father and my younger brother (and his kids) received acceptance as founding members. I however was rejected founding member status because I liked off the island for a few years and only moved back -too late I guess on October 3rd of 2011. So my kids don’t get to keep their status and I have to basically beg to keep mine . Where does it make sense that my native blood somehow changes because I left the island for work. I could understand, maybe if I had left a reserve to go away but we don’t have land, yet forced to live here to be eligible and nothing stopping any member, from here on in, from going away from the island . UGG I guess I am getting involved in a lawsuit.

  2. cgbath@gmail.com'
    Chris February 8, 2017 at 2:48 am #

    Similarly affected by the decision, will appeal but if they reject based on current documents (which should be identical to applications my cousins submitted and were accepted) I doubt there’s much chance. The funny thing is based on the enrollment criterion you can lose 9 points if you don’t have member ship prior to June 23rd 2008, I guess applying for membership has no merit. You would lose an additional 5 points if you didn’t prove frequent visits / communication with members of the Mi’Kmaq Group of Indians, how does this apply when this is the first time the Qalipu people are trying to get recognized? How does one prove visits / communication (phone records and gps printouts of the number of visits you took?) 3 points for Residency on the Island of Newfoundland. Another 9 points if you can’t prove that you maintain the cultural way of life, in a province and country that still has a poor outlook on those individuals identifying themselves as native. #enfranchisement #noDAPL

  3. sweet_heart632@hotmail.com'
    Ann February 8, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    Me and my daughters also got denied status. But the funny thing about it is my brother and his kids got accepted. My mother and her sisters got there cards to. They denied me and my daughters and my other sister. So tell me how did they pick and choose? We are all the same blood. I’m so angry and upset.

  4. Anitahouse64@gmail.com'
    Anita February 8, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    I agree with Chris. I to was denied acceptance do to my lack of documentation. The fact that my parents and their siblings were taught to hide the fact they had an indigenous heritage, means my children and I cannot legally and lawfully take part of our true history. Once again being denied our heritage.

  5. Marsamms@hotmail.com'
    Marlene S February 9, 2017 at 2:55 am #

    A lot of people affected in a negative way over this. I am Native. My uncle was the chief of bay of islands. Then later the grand chief. Because I moved from nfld means I don’t qualify to be recognized as native. I am still Native and I an still a Newfoundlander no matter where my travels take me.. And No matter if I get my status or not. I am proud to be my father’s daughter, my uncle had played a big part in raising me. Right now I am sure his spirit is torn apart. God rest his soul. I hope they figure this out cause it is just one big screw up.

  6. Dieseldustcafe@yahoo.ca'
    Anthony George February 9, 2017 at 10:19 pm #

    Former founding member here who is pissed for the same reasons. I have immediate family who have been acknowledged as new founding members. Funny thing was that me and my dad lead the way for them. Now dad has passed. I own property in York harbour and have so for the last 10 years. Visited annaully for extended periods and submitted the documents to prove it including tax and utility bills. Ferry Tickets,fishing license ….and so on. Living in Ontario at the moment and was clear and honest on my application regarding my two residences . Was member of the Benoit cove band as well. I GOT BROAD BRUSHED along with the rest of us. They simply sorted us by address and the deliberately FOUND a reason to deny us. They actually believe we are stupid newfies. Years ago in canada The government took the native out of so many of our children with their bright idea regarding schooling . Now they are attempting to take the native out of our adults. They were Wong then,they are wrong now. Maybe it’s time the caribou do actually heard up…
    Anthony George.

  7. olivertt30@gmail.com'
    Thelma Oliver February 10, 2017 at 2:06 am #

    For me also my head hangs and my heart is heavy. ..For me I always thought that blood was thicker than water. ..the blood line should be what makes us native. ..not how many times we pow wow or practice our culture…something I never knew existed until I read about it….how many of you as children celebrated the native culture…as far as I know NONE. ..not where I grew up anyway. ..now they say we can’t have status…we must learn our ways before we practice. ..and for those of us who had to leave the island in order to survive…this is what we are being punished for…because we didn’t choose to stay and barely sustain a living through government projects. .welfare and EI…and again this is our fault…all I ever wanted was to be recognized for who I am not what the government wants me to be.

  8. Margaret.crawford54@gmail.com'
    Margaret crawford February 10, 2017 at 4:39 am #

    This is devastating to feel that because you leave your own Province to make a better life for myself and my family I am no longer considered a Indian although the blood that runs through my veins has not changed, someone sitting behind a desk do not have a right to take this away from me and my children and grandchildren, I took my grandsons to theCree Indian reserve in Ontario and they recognized their features right away they didn’t have to show their cards. You have my support and my families support for this unjust thing that has happened to all of us either living in Newfoundland or outside Newfoundland to all of the qualipu Indians. I hope this unjust thing is brought to the attention of all the people across Canada, thank you Margaret Crawford .

  9. Margaret.crawford54@gmail.com'
    Margaret crawford February 10, 2017 at 4:39 am #

    This is devastating to feel that because you leave your own Province to make a better life for myself and my family I am no longer considered a Indian although the blood that runs through my veins has not changed, someone sitting behind a desk do not have a right to take this away from me and my children and grandchildren, I took my grandsons to theCree Indian reserve in Ontario and they recognized their features right away they didn’t have to show their cards. You have my support and my families support for this unjust thing that has happened to all of us either living in Newfoundland or outside Newfoundland to all of the qualipu Indians. I hope this unjust thing is brought to the attention of all the people across Canada, thank you Margaret Crawford .

  10. Kihcokimaw74@gmail.com'
    Kihcokimaw February 12, 2017 at 1:35 am #

    The government of Canada is not going to have a 100,000 + indigenous people’s.
    No way.
    That is a formidable nation on the east coast. That’s a militia.
    It’s foolish to think that is ok.
    The cutting of people serves the crowns fiduciary responsibilities.
    Going to court to serves the crown. As limiting the indIan. As it will take years and years.

    Fight among yourselves.

    That’s the aim and goal.

    Yeah good luck with that.

    Your leadership has to be strong.
    Wise, spiritual and strong.

    Or your just Canadians.

  11. gwen_john@hotmail.com'
    G. John February 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    Isn’t this just typical Indian Affairs…suppression, oppression based on rules of the white man. This is sickening to say the least!

  12. crcontracting04@gmail.com'
    Two Horses February 14, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    HI; My father was put in Mount Cashel orphanage as a young boy, he was beaten, abused, and tortured, for no other reason than he was a Mi,kmaq indian. While I was in school as a young boy I was also abused, beaten, and tortured by the nuns and brothers for being the son of a Mi,kmaq indian. I guess all that pain and suffering was for nothing, because my father and I stood up long ago and said we were Mi,kmaq. I guess if you self identify this is the reward you get.

  13. crcontracting04@gmail.com'
    Two Horses February 15, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

    Off reserve Band, Landless Band.? Charter of rights states. Mobility of Citizens, all citizens have the right to move and gain livelihood.

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