The Qalipu application decisions end in frustration and anger for thousands - APTN NewsAPTN News

The Qalipu application decisions end in frustration and anger for thousands

Trina Roache
APTN National News
There is anger and confusion among the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland who are reeling after news that friends and family have been rejected in the controversial process to decide membership of the Qalipu band.

“I’m not happy with what happened here,” said Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell. “We have a lot of people proud to have been part of this, proud to say I’m aboriginal, I’m Mi’kmaq and what have we done with
them? We’ve knocked them out of the process.”

Mitchell said the complicated criteria agreed on by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) and Canada in 2013 has gone too far.

“We’re losing a lot of people who’ve been involved in this process for decades,” he said. “Families that have been around since the early days of the modern Aboriginal movement in Newfoundland.”

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Chief Brendan Mitchell. Photo Trina Roache/APTN

The Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland have lived without a reserve and outside the Indian Act since the province joined Canada in 1949.

Decades of fighting for recognition led to the formation of the Qalipu band in 2008.

By the membership deadline four years later, 104,000 people had applied to join, raising questions around legitimacy and concerns over the credibility of the band.

“So it wasn’t reasonable,” said Fred Caron, the federal government’s representative on the Qalipu file. “It overwhelmed the process in the sense that we had a four person enrolment committee, which
in the last year of the enrolment process, received 70,000 applications – and in the last 3 months, received 40 thousand.”

The enrolment committee is made up of both FNI members and representatives of the federal government.

“We didn’t prejudge whether people were serious or not when they fired in their application,” said Caron. “We think it was done right, done respectfully and done thoroughly.”

But Mitchell said the criteria meant to weed out people with little community connection, “just looking for free stuff” they might gain by having Indian status, has cut out Mi’kmaq who really belong in the band.

“I think that this process went too far,” said Mitchell. “I don’t think it needed to go as deep as it did. And I’ll be honest with you, I begged the minister not to do this.”

Mitchell said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s only response to him so far has been a firm commitment to the process that was agreed on in 2013.

Calvin White

Calvin White. Photo: Trina Roache/APTN

The letters from the enrolment committee were sent out on January 31 and the results have stunned people like Calvin White, a respected Mi’kmaw Elder.

“All that stuff, it looks like it had the deliberate intention of keeping people out,” said white. “It’s not about doing due diligence to people’s applications.”

White’s own three sons were denied because they moved away from their home in the Mi’kmaw community of Flat Bay, also called No’kmaq Village.

“I’m hurt, yes, and they’re hurt. But they’re not devastated,” said White. “We just don’t understand how anything could be so flawed.”

White was one of the key founders of the aboriginal movement in Newfoundland in the 1970s.

“When I got involved, my kids were small children running around,” said White. “They grew up seeing people like the Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Donald Marshall, Noel Knockwood, and Mi’sel Joe. They grew
up with an understanding and exposure to the lifestyle and politics, of Mi’kmaq culture.”

  • Grand Chief Donald Marshall
  • Elder Noel Knockwood


These pics feature Grand Chief Donald Marshall and respected Mi’kmaq traditional spiritual Elder Noel Knockwood who both spent time in Flat Bay, NL during the early years of the Aboriginal movement.

White called the results of the enrollment process “inconsistent.”

The enrollment process looks at self-identification. But also uses a point system to measure community connection and acceptance. Phone calls and visits home, plane tickets, and receipts tying the applicant
to one of the province’s 66 Mi’kmaq communities. The magic number to gain membership was 13.

White’s granddaughter lives five hours away in the Miawpukek Mi’kmaq First Nation at Conne River – the only reserve in Newfoundland.

“She got turned down,” said White. “Her daughter, five years old, got approved. In the letter with the point system, her mom got no points for visiting Flat Bay. But her daughter got two points. A five year-old
made it all the way to Flat Bay without her mom? It’s almost laughable!”

White is even more shocked at the rejection of people like Danny White, well-known and in demand for his skills as one of the last Mi’kmaq people to weave spruce root baskets.

“How can this man be assessed for not having a connection to culture and community? It’s utterly ridiculous,” said White.

And the list goes on.

“John Oliver, lives in British Columbia now, but he was the first president of Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI), involved for a number of years. He got a rejection letter. It’s unbelievable. It’s a mess.”

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John Oliver, first President of Federation of Newfoundland Indians.

The Qalipu band currently has close to 24,000 members. These were people who were accepted into the band before everyone was assessed under the new criteria.

Now, more than 10,000 of those band members who were given Indian status haven’t made the cut this time around. Unless something changes, they’ll have their status cards revoked.

Wade White is among that number. He grew up in Flat Bay but lives in Halifax now.

“There’s no rhyme nor reason to what they’re doing. It seems like they’re picking and choosing,” said White. “It’s all based on geography versus bloodline.”

Wade White (L) lives in Halifax, NS now but grew up in the Mi'kmaq community of Flat Bay, NL. He still has family there and visits once or twice a year. Photos courtesy Wade White

Wade White (L) lives in Halifax, NS now but grew up in the Mi’kmaq community of Flat Bay, NL. He still has family there and visits once or twice a year. Photos courtesy Wade White

White has maintained a connection to his home community. He questions what moving away for work or education has to do with identity.

“If you live in one place you can’t be native,” said White. “Like, I must have fell asleep on the boat or airplane when they sucked my blood away because I don’t remember that. I’m native blood. I’ve
been native all my life. I have community acceptance. I have many people in the community that talk to me on a daily basis.”

But Fred Caron said the decisions of the enrolment committee are heavily tied to identity.

“But it’s also tied to the idea that you need this current substantial connection with the Mi’kmaq community that existed at 2008 and continued up until the recognition order,” said Caron.

And if people couldn’t prove that community connection, they didn’t make Qalipu’s founding members list, even if they were already on it.

As for revoking 10,544 status cards, Caron said, “It’s just not been done on this scale obviously but this is a one-off, this is a very unique process, we haven’t done this before in terms of creating a modern
day band.”

Frustrations are mounting.

Wade White wants more transparency in the process. He has until March 17 to appeal the decision. Only 20,000 applicants have that right of appeal. But no one can add any new information. And White doesn’t know what was wrong with what he already sent in.

“This is a flawed process,” said White. “This has to stop. We need these applications reviewed.”

Click here to see text of rejection letter

Calvin White, who’s related to Wade, agrees.

There’s talk of court action to fight the enrolment decisions – but White said that will take time and money and thinks the solution is a political one.

“The minister has the power to make a decision,” said White. “This has been such a mess. We have to look at some sort of correction. Do we need a new agreement? Maybe it’s just looking at the flaws of
the existing agreement.”

The pressure is on Chief Mitchell to stand up and fight the decision.

“Canada can say all they want to me, well, you’re a party to the agreement, you know you can’t say anything,” said Mitchell. “Well, you know, I have to speak up for our people.”

His plan is to meet with the community in a series of town halls over the next few weeks – and to lobby at the political level to try and grab the ear of Minister Bennett and Prime Minister Trudeau, who have
been silent on the Qalipu file so far.

“I have 14 months to try to help fix this situation we’re facing and it’s a discouraging tone,” said Mitchell. “It’s disappointing.”

In the spring of 2018, the final band list of the founding members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation will be submitted to Minister Bennett for approval by an Order-in-Council.

After that, band membership will fall under the rules of the Indian Act.


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9 Responses to “The Qalipu application decisions end in frustration and anger for thousands”

    Lori Doman February 13, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    On The day that the agreement was signed all members at that time should of been given status that was the agreement that we all signed for .I know there
    are a lot of MiKmaq signed up after the fact but the original members should have kept status .I would think it should be like any law suit once it is won you can not include people that were not in the law suit .Members off the island have gone to pow wows in other places have come home to pow wows have always been on the F.N.I. list now they lose their status .Just like years ago if a Indian women married a white man she lost her rights,no one that leaves the reservation ever lose their status should be know different here.

    Mary Thorne February 14, 2017 at 12:15 am #

    I am at lost for words with this whole process or lack of process.
    My son and I are both founding members and have had our status over 6 years now. So now they want to take away our cards because of our geographical location.. Out right ridiculousness!!! My bloodline has not changed as my son’s didn’t either. I am ready to do what ever I can on this side of the island (Avalon / St.John’s / Mount Pearl ) to fight back. I am hoping to get a lot of passionate people like Mr. White to help the fight. A handful will not change the government where as thousands might stand a chance.
    I would love to hear from anyone who is willing to stand up for our rights and help the fight. Please feel free to contact me

    Ann jesso February 14, 2017 at 3:53 am #

    Turned down by one point Qalipu all my life sent in affidavit signed saying I visited every year didn’t ask for any travel or hotel receipts now I’m denied for not visiting but I have proof receipts I visited every year I believe we should avoid all this bullshit and start class action lawsuit asap

      Mary Thorne February 15, 2017 at 1:00 am #

      Who keeps receipts for everything? I know I don’t unless it is income tax.. Come on.. this is bullshit.

    Brian February 14, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    This week, thousands of Micmac applicants and status card holders were notified that they will neither become nor remain members of the Micmac Band of Newfoundland. In my personal opinion, this is the biggest scam and insult to a native people anywhere. Over the years, thousands of Micmac Newfoundlanders have made the choice not to be on welfare and moved off the island in search of work to provide for their families, while keeping ties with their community and their heritage and today thousands are being penalized for doing so.
           My sons and I, are or should I say were, status Micmac until last when we got a letter from the Canadian Government stating we no longer qualify to be members of the Newfoundland Micmac band. Imagine explaining to my two sons you are not Micmac anymore, because we did not go back home enough, unbelievable. I was born and raised a Micmac in Newfoundland and lived in a Micmac community for most of my life but like many others I moved away in search of a better life. I have five brothers on Island today and they are all keeping their status.
    A couple of years ago, the then minister of Indian affairs Mr. Valcourt and the then Chief of the Newfoundland Micmac, Mr Shepard, devised a plan in the back rooms of Newfoundland to eliminate thousands of Micmac from getting their rightful status. They came up with a scheme, a point system that would make it almost impossible for thousands to qualify reducing the numbers. With big smiles on their faces and hands deep in their pockets, they called this new plan, the ‘supplemental agreement’ – which I really believe meant tearing up the original agreement (contract) and making a brand new one. They came up with a point system giving most points to those now living in a Micmac community and Fewer points for those of Micmac BLOOD LINE , people that were actually born and raised a Micmac in a Micmac community. What’s really is bizarre about this whole sneaky affair, is the Micmac of Newfoundland is a LANDLESS BAND. Just because you live in a Micmac community does not mean you must participate in the community does it. You are not forced to go to the pow wow’s and if you went to one weekly are you More of a Micmac, than the one that goes every five years.

    Now back to the amazing point system… The breakdown of the point system was not revealed at that time of the supplemental agreement but simply that you needed the magic number of 13 points to qualify. You had to prove you were actually a participating Micmac and that was more important than BLOOD LINE. You had to go back in time and find receipts, receipts of items that were purchased at a pow-wow, air line tickets, phone bills showing conversations with the community back home, etc.
         Imagine determining ones native heritage based on pow-wow attendance, visits to Newfoundland and your connection to the Micmac community even though you were born and raised as a Micmac on the island for many years.
         I love the people of Newfoundland and I love my native brothers and sisters but how many times can a family afford to travel to the island and who keeps receipts of where they stayed, ate and visited over so many years. A lot which by the way I provided.  Besides, we have something called the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, it’s the year 2017.  Today it is very easy to be part of any community thanks to the online realm.  One can practice in his heritage anywhere in the world now. I am a Roman Catholic but maybe I should check to see if I still am, as I was baptized in Corner Brook but now live in Ontario… I believe this too was all part of this wonder scheme – make it nearly impossible to show community involvement and the numbers would drop off drastically. Did anyone ever notice that these bandits in the night gave zero points for the years that most of these rejected applicants spent being raised and living in one of these Micmac communities?  Mr. Fred Carson of Indigenious and Northern Affairs seems to put a lot of weight on this part of the application and he is doing a fine job of selling this point. He does not care about the people this decision will hurt or the years they grew up as a Micmac in Newfoundland and their past involvement in the Micmac community.
    He does say though that some people not on the island and some living outside of Micmac communities were accepted. I wonder how these people were critiqued. Did some show more flights, more receipts, more phone calls and as a result did this make them MORE MICMAC? Do these receipts validate something about the potency of their ancestral blood? Or was this also part of the scam, to show that they allowed a few outsiders to join the band . Now after making it almost impossible for those that moved away to join the band the Feds came up with another brilliant idea. They passed a bill in the House of Commons ( Bill C-25 ) that would prevent any legitimate Micmac born and raised in Newfoundland from suing the Federal Government. Now THAT, is original (Just a side note: All those that voted for this bill should be put on public display as traitors to Canada and to its Native people. ) this bill is a first and corrupt. Remember now,  My boys and I were legitimate status Micmac up to this point. Only AFTER the Feds and Mr. Shepard realized there were just too many Micmac applying for status did things change.  As I am typing this, A thought comes to mind…I wonder what will happen to those that keep their status and move out of a community and to lets say, Ontario in the future, will they keep their status? And what will happen to the rejected Micmac that moves back home to his place of birth one day and the community he was raised in, Will he then GET his or her status? I don’t think so. This too was part of this masterpiece – Once you are out you are out. Both of my son’s and I do have a chance to appeal, but get this, we were all turned down because we could not show enough connection to the community. So I called Indian Affairs in Ottawa today and explained to them that I have found more evidence to support my claims and would like to submit them with my appeal. Things like, copies of hunting licences , Pictures at a pow-wow, two recent visits to Newfoundland, last year and this pass summer for two weeks each time. Also pictures taken at a pow-wow in flat bay this summer past one even with Chief Mitchell and more documents, going way back. But guess what, you guessed it, I am not allowed to send any new documents in with my appeal. The lady said, they will not look at them.

      This is corruption at its worst. It does not take a rocket scientist to see the evil that has unfolded here. Integrity is a word you will not find anywhere in this whole process. Today I am ashamed to be a Canadian and ashamed to be a native in a country, that should know better. If you were born in Newfoundland and can prove your Micmac BLOOD LINE you a Micmac, period.
         It is not only our federal government that has disgraced all Canadians and the Micmac people of Newfoundland and native people everywhere. Our Micmac leadership has as well. On that night beneath the dim candlelight when a show of hands went up to vote on this poisonous supplemental agreement, one of those hands, was the hand of our very own fearless leader, Mr. Brendan Mitchell. I have heard him speak a number of times, I have met him and happen to think he is a wonderful man but I believe he buckled under pressure and was swayed by those in three piece suits from Ottawa.
    On that night we needed a different kind of man, a man that would stand tall and proud striking his fist in furry on the table at what was about to unfold, fighting for every single Newfoundland Micmac no matter WHERE THEY NOW LIVE.

    So In closing, I will say this.
    Shame on the Government of Canada for your part in this evil deed of deception. I believe your involvement in this deviant act should be exposed to all Canadians. The conservatives may have started this mess but the liberal government of Canada did nothing to stop it. Almost a week has gone by now and Bennett and Trudeau have been missing in action. When they were needed the most, they disappeared but Native people everywhere will not forget there lack of involvement, we will remember them and we should. They will will go down in history as traitors to the native people of Newfoundland.
    I am also ashamed, of all of those that sat at that table that evening with Mr Sheppard. You knew what was going to happen to those now living outside a Micmac community once you voted for this supplemental agreement. You, have betrayed your own people, the Micmac of Newfoundland. The Micmac band of the future now will just be the remnants of a hope and dream. The foundation on which it is being built is one of disgrace.

    May God bless the wonderful Micmac peoples of Newfoundland, where ever you may reside.
    We have been duped, and worst of all, our children have been duped,
    And that, is what really hurts.!
    Brian Greene

      Mary Thorne February 15, 2017 at 12:59 am #

      I couldn’t agree with you more.. I am so ashamed of the Government and how they let this happen without a second thought. I guess we still don’t count !!!

    D.G. Felix February 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    The following comment “But Mitchell said the criteria meant to weed out people with little community connection, “just looking for free stuff” they might gain by having Indian status, has cut out Mi’kmaq who really belong in the band” shows the prejudice and racism that prevails in Canada. By assuming that persons of Aboriginal descent want their status to get free stuff at the cost of taxpayers a category that he himself is part of this sentiment based on his statement. This statement clearly demonstrates that he along with the other chiefs appear to have maliciously agreed to the 2013 amendment to deny status to those who did not reside in the province but had family who still resided there. However, he and the collaborating chiefs underhandedness in attempting to exclude some resulted in the exclusion of the many. How can he be a Chief when he is prejudiced against his own people? How can he say that people want free stuff? There are 10s of thousands of Newfoundlander s who left the island because of the lack of jobs and opportunity. (if we had wanted handouts we would have stayed behind and lived of the teat of the government like some/most have). Those who left have worked hard, strived to provide for their families and were not privileged to “free stuff” they worked for it. Many returned as often as they could to visit and be a part of and maintain their connection with their community. No consideration was given in realizing the cost of travel where a family the average family of four can incur travel costs in the thousands but incurred the expense none the less because of the need to be with their extended family. No consideration was given to those who serve/served in the Military/RCMP which required them to move to different locations around Canada and deployments to war torn countries. Those who served in organizations such as these sacrificed more (in many cases their lives) than those who never left the Island. Now when it comes down to making the decision of who gets their status it is being primarily decided based on their place of residency when awarding points.

    I am certain that there are numerous Newfoundanders who left the island to seek employment who returned and noticed a difference in how they were treated/accepted by some persons in their communities and can relate to what I am about to say. For years there has been resentment towards those who went away to work I experienced it as a child and now as an adult. I recall comments like “so you think your a big shot because you working on the mainland” or “you went away and you think you’re better than everyone else” or “must be nice to have money to buy that” then the famous NL comment that has been seen/heard/acted out by comedians “the byes from up along” (referring to Newfoundlander s who went away to work.
    This sentiment appears to be the same sentiment/resentment that guided those who signed the 2013 amendment to purposely exclude those who left the island. How can we be looking for handouts when people like my wife and my self have paid hundreds of thousands in federal/provincial income tax during our 30+ years in the military. We are the ones that have/are paying for the free stuff that the Chief and his elite and some of those who never left the province get to enjoy.

    We are being denied by both the Government and our own aboriginal family. Where is the fairness and equality?

    Brian February 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    I believe we have a weak chief. He should be yelling,on the war path over this but he
    Is not.

    Edward February 23, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Anybody participating in this unprecedented and shameful revocation of Status Indian’s will be on the wrong side of history – similar to Joey Smallwood..

    Typical second class treatment historically shown by Government Canada toward Newfoundlanders. Certainly, one would never see such arbitrary and unreasonable criteria imposed on vote rich Ontario or Quebec.

    Since 1949, RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces recruited from Newfoundland and filled their quotas with First Nations who were forced to acknowledge in writing that Government Canada’s policy of employment throughout Canada to serve our country. Not surprisingly, many of us were sent to work on Indian Reserves which worked very well for Government Canada.

    How can Indian Affairs (INAC) and Government Canada suddenly create a new policy stating Landless Qalipu members must reside within specific areas of Newfoundland which conflicts with the original Government Canada policy toward recruits RCMP / CAF? This goes completely against Natural Law.

    My adult child, my brothers and my nephews retain their Status, while the only one who left to work for Government Canada is revoked?

    Chief Mitchell has an opportunity to show leadership here and to be on the right side of history in an escalating conflict which will surely take the sensible solution in the long run.