What’s next for the Qalipu of Newfoundland and Labrador – Part 3 - APTN NewsAPTN News

What’s next for the Qalipu of Newfoundland and Labrador – Part 3

Trina Roache
APTN National News
Mi’kmaw leaders in Newfoundland say Indigenous people across the country should be watching as the controversial process for deciding membership in the Qalipu band unfolds.

The federal government is currently in the process of deciding who will maintain their status in the newly formed Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

In 1949, the Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood infamously declared that there were no Indians on the island – by 2011, more than 100,000 people applied to become members of the Qalipu First Nation.

Qalipu member Blain Ford said getting back to his culture has made a difference.

“The culture’s been uplifting. It’s helped me. It’s made me who I am today. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict for 28 years. So, the culture really saved my life to be honest,” said Ford.

But starting in 2013 more criteria was put in place by Ottawa to try and measure cultural identity.

See more stories here: Qalipu First Nation

The applications for membership were reviewed again.

“If you got your ancestry, you got your documents and everything all filled out and we proved who we are. Now they’re trying to prove who we’re not,” said Ford.

He, as well as many others, are waiting to learn if they can keep their Indian status. Those who can’t prove to have a Mi’kmaq community connection could lose their status.

“I really find that hard,” said Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell. “I have to say this: the government of Canada can say to a person five years ago, ‘congrats! You’re an Aboriginal person…oh sorry, give me your card back, you’re not an Indian anymore,’ or ‘you’re not a status Indian anymore’. I have a real big problem with that.”

Mitchell believes it was the cost of bringing 100,000 people into the Indian Act that motivated Canada to whittle down band membership.

“Maybe I should do this maybe I should generate a bill for everything that Aboriginal people, Mi’kmaq people in Newfoundland never got since 1949 because we got nothing until the formation of the Qalipu First Nation,” he said.

There are few, including the Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland, that think all 103,000 people who applied should get in. Mitchell said more than three quarters could be denied.

The issue is with how the enrollment process ties identity to geography.

“You cannot discriminate against someone because they moved for education or work to build a better life for themselves,” said Dave Wells with the Mi’kmaq First Nations of Assembly of Newfoundland.

In order to be a Qalipu member, a person has to live in either a Mi’kmaq community in Newfoundland, show they visited attended a pow wow, took a picture and saved receipts.

“All other Indian bands in Canada have the ability to move from one community to another. Nothing makes sense. They cannot make the piece fit the puzzle and it’s time for the chief of the Qa’lipu First Nation to stand up along with the council and say to the feds, ‘we do not accept this!’” said Wells.

But Indigenous affairs minister Carolyn Bennett has made it clear to Chief Mitchell.

“The response back to me was very clear and she said it to me three times in the letter. ‘We have an agreement in place done in good faith with the federation of Newfoundland Indians and the Government of Canada and we’re standing by it,’” explained Mitchell.

He isn’t prepared to put the future of the Qalipu in jeopardy.

“People need to understand it’s not just an easy thing to walk away and tell Canada to take a hike,” said Wells.

Other Mi’kmaq leaders have been skeptical of the high numbers of people wanting into the Qalipu First Nation while wary of what it could mean for them.

“If you add 100,000 extra people or 50k people, what does that do to our education?” said Jamie Battiste with the Mi’kmaq Treaty Education. “What does that do to health? What does that do to all of the problems that currently exist that we’re underfunded on?”

The fate of deciding who’s who of the Qalipu is in the hands of the federal government and its decision could impact Indigenous people across Canada.

“How do you think they’re going to deal with the Daniel’s decision and six hundred thousand Metis and non-status Indians in Canada? Saying, ‘I want to be status?’ Guess what they’re going to do,” asked Mitchell.

Within the Qalipu, the battle over band membership may go on for a long while.

“It’s going to cause a lot of rift between siblings,” said Qalipu member Paul Pike. “How one is in and one is not. Because when we started this it was all about family. And the supplemental agreement is all about where you live and when you signed your application.”

Ford said it feels like they’re being robbed or discriminated against, but he’s not giving up.

“I plan to keep going. Carded or not carded it’s not going to change me. A piece of plastic does not define who I am. L’nu Neuptjej. I’m Mi’kmaq forever,” said Ford.

Anyone who is rejected from the Qalipu band can appeal. Once that route is exhausted the Mi’kmaq there said the legal battle will begin.

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14 Responses to “What’s next for the Qalipu of Newfoundland and Labrador – Part 3”

  1. stefcor54@gmail.com'
    Stephen February 14, 2017 at 7:09 am #

    Well, after the Government is finished “Ceding the Indians”, we can
    all get on a large ferry and leave, then return as Landed Emigrants,
    25,000 at a time.

  2. Drdre2001_1@hotmail.com'
    Darren Brake February 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

    What a thing to do to an assimulated people create division, fear, disenfranchisement and modern genocide. Stephen Harper started this mess but Justin Trudeau sits idled while recognizing the need to allow thousands into the country. Justin has a golden chance to help do the right thing. Giving the people of Newfoundland the recognition they deserve!

  3. mesherc@gmail.com'
    Chesley February 6, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

    Nfld’s recent colonial history has ingrained in its government and leadership an undercurrent of it being the colonizer. Labrador’s Metis and indigenous peoples know well that sinking feeling of being the oppressed.

  4. kramsiwel@outlook.com'
    Mark February 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    I got my letter today stating I did not meet the self identification requirements (before 2006) there for was denied, this followed by “final and not subject to appeal”. I personally think this opens the door for the government to start taking away status from anyone its sees as not being indian enough if they can use it in this case they will of course abuse their power with their prejudicial ways to revoke status and benefits to all it can in the future. I was invited to join and submitted DNA which was not valid because you apparently only use that in court cases, Ancestry back to 1700’s proving beyond a doubt I am who I say I am. But due to the fact my family suppressed this information out of fear I only found out about my family being native on my father’s death bed in 07′ that we were indeed native I began to look and found all the records. Regardless of the federal government I am proud of my heritage and a piece of paper will not change that ever.

  5. keithanddoris@nl.rogers.com'
    Keith February 5, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

    An excellent 3 part series. Wela’lin

  6. Theresa.george7299@gmail.com'
    Theresa george February 4, 2017 at 4:44 am #

    I will never understand how one member of a family of 8 who have the same parents can have status and the rest of us can’t. It is not our fault we had to move away to find work to feed and clothe our children. I am sure the government would not have been able to feed and take care of the many like us who sought work elsewhere because there was no work for us in NL. This is nothing short of discrimination against certain people. I do not need a plastic card to know who I am but I will fight this until I can fight no more. How dare someone in authority presume to tell uswho we are. For all you people government or otherwise who are doing this you are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites and bullies and I would tell you to your face if I knew who you were but I guess you are all good at hiding behind each other.i don’t even know how you can sleep at night knowing what you are doing to people.

  7. newfiebear2@aol.com'
    charlie webb February 4, 2017 at 3:35 am #

    i got my paper in the mail and was denied.i filled out out the paper work in 2011 and a little while later i was accepted into the band by the nfld,native band.then last year i was sent a paper from winnipeg asking for more info but they not telling me what kind of info.i live in toronto and see many natives from all provinces plus nfld natives live here and use their status cards.are we the only natives that cant go to other provinces to find work.my cousins in nfld all have their status cards but i and my 3 sisters cant get any the federal govt just dont want any more natives so they just say no to us and alot of us are native.i am native so i deserve the card.about the 22,000 people that have the card,why dont the federal govt. be fair and check out all of them too and see how many of them are not native.native people should be able to go from province to province.the govt. only put out the supplemental agreement to deny us our status and make it harder on us to get it.they just dont want no more natives.isnt corruption still rampant in dirty politics.the govt make unfair rules and we still suffer no matter what govt. is in ,they are all alike.

  8. cindywells63@yahoo.ca'
    cindy February 3, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

    My mother and brother were approve but I was decline. Why is that ?

  9. a.gdennis@eastlink.ca'
    calvin dennis February 3, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

    All Mi’kmaq communities should be standing up for the members of Qalipu reguarding the federal governments decision and process reguarding who qaulifies for indian status, for if a qualipu member has to live on a reserve to keep their indian status so to will every other native in this country.Come together and we are strong, separate us and we are nothing.Lets stand up to the bully in OTTAWA. Descriminate against us no more. Calvin Dennis.

  10. newfiemomgander@yahoo.ca'
    Christine Fancey February 3, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi my name is Christine and I am a status Qalipu.I have been since the beginning so I am part of the founding fathers,but I do not live in NL.I do try to get home every summer and I talk to my family back home regularly,but I don’t keep records of it so does that mean that I am not Mi,kmaq.so my sister and brother who live in NL.are but I am not.where you live should not have a bearing on what your ancestry is.taking away your status is the same as taking away your bloodline ,to me that is discrimination of the worse kind.what kind of government do we have that will allow this.This is more about money for the government than the native people.If this goes through the then we are setting the clock back 100 years.No matter what I am still native and still proud

  11. mddunne@bellaliant.net'
    Derrick Dunne February 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    As I wait to hear of a decision on mind and my two sons application, I have to wonder what my great-grandmother was thinking when she made the decision not to tell her children they were Mi’kmaq. She believed she had to shelter them from the outside world because of what would be a cruel childhood for her children. I only learned in 2010 that I was from Mi’kmaq ancestory; how could I be expected to have participate in a culture I knew nothing about or lived in a community with such culture. I now know where my great grandmother came from, her culture and her beliefs. My (now deceased) grandfather is a registered Indian on the registry in St. John’s so nobody can change that and nobody will change who I am. I have been learning about our culture and will continue to do so whether the Qalipu accept my application or not.

  12. mikmaq@email.com'
    Saln February 3, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    The qalipu has outgrown it`s environment now Ottawa will cull and skin the qalipu

  13. angelina_butt@hotmail.com'
    Angelina Butt February 3, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    Your comment that “Anyone who is rejected from the Qalipu band can appeal.” is incorrect. Only certain circumstances grant the possibility of appeal… most of the “rejection” letters have zero option for appeal.

  14. kensim1968@hotmail.com'
    Simon February 3, 2017 at 3:18 am #

    It seems that cheif mitchel is content on the craps that ottawa has given him and a few others and to hell with the rest of us and our Mi’kmaq hertiage. Not one native band in canada has such redicious rules and conditions put apon them . How dare anyone question the hertiage of another . It sickens me