Open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments will­ing to work with Flat Bay, Qalipu over schism

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN

The provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments have in­di­cated they are will­ing to lis­ten to the con­cerns of the Flat Bay band Inc. as it con­tem­plates dis­tanc­ing it­self from the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Na­tion Band.

Flat Bay Chief Liz Lasaga has con­firmed the self-gov­erned band based in the western New­found­land com­mu­ni­ties of Flat Bay East, Flat Bay West and St. Teresa no longer wants to be as­so­ci­ated with Qalipu be­cause of the con­tro­ver­sial en­rol­ment process that has left thou­sands of peo­ple de­nied found­ing mem­ber­ship in the Qalipu band.

Lasaga said the Flat Bay band has about 1,000 mem­bers, but Qalipu Chief Bren­dan Mitchell has said only 132 mem­bers of the Flat Bay band are also Qalipu mem­bers. Fur­ther, noted Mitchell, the Flat Bay band has no di­rect af­fil­i­a­tion with Qalipu.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view Mon­day, Lasaga in­dicted she felt con­fi­dent Flat Bay’s quest for sta­tus sep­a­rate from Qalipu would get sup­port from both the fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments.

The Western Star re­quested in­ter­views with both Premier Dwight Ball, who is New­found­land and Labrador’s min­is­ter for In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal and In­dige­nous Af­fairs, and fed­eral In­dige­nous and North­ern Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett re­gard­ing the Flat Bay is­sue.

No in­ter­views were granted from ei­ther gov­ern­ment.

In an emailed state­ment at­trib­uted to Ball, the prov­ince said it has worked closely with both Mitchell and Lasaga to ad­vance the needs of their peo­ple and will con­tinue to stand with both of them in ad­vanc­ing work on all mat­ters of im­por­tance, in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture needs, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment needs and ad­vanc­ing mat­ters un­der fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion.

The provin­cial state­ment re­it­er­ated the Qalipu en­rol­ment process is a fed­eral mat­ter and only the fed­eral gov­ern­ment can con­fer In­dian Act sta­tus on a per­son or es­tab­lish In­dian Act re­serves.

“We have been clear in cor­re­spon­dence to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that is­sues with the en­rol­ment process should be ad­dressed,” read the state­ment. “We will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate in this re­gard and will seek feed­back from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that is re­spon­sive to the needs of Chief Mitchell, Chief Lasaga and the res­i­dents we serve.”

Ben­nett’s of­fice de­clined an in­ter­view at this time, but also pro­vided an emailed state­ment that in­di­cated the fed­eral depart­ment has been in con­tact with of­fi­cials of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Na­tion Band and Mi’kmaq com­mu­nity in the Flat Bay area on this is­sue. Ben­nett’s of­fice said it is en­gaged with th­ese com­mu­ni­ties to hear their views on a way for­ward and will con­tinue to have dis­cus­sions to en­sure the in­tegrity of the en­rol­ment process.


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