‘Leave no one be­hind’

Ex­ploits ward can­di­dates re­spond to con­cerns about Qalipu sta­tus cri­te­ria change

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

The mes­sage was much larger than the turnout.

A few mem­bers of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Na­tion Band stood out­side the group’s Grand Falls-Wind­sor of­fice Oct. 1, call­ing on lead­ers to fight for the rights of their peo­ple.

More than 10,000 peo­ple are slot­ted to be re­moved from Qalipu’s found­ing mem­bers list, which was estab­lished in 2011. The re­movals were con­firmed af­ter ap­pli­ca­tions for mem­ber­ship were re­assessed as per the terms of a sup­ple­men­tal agree­ment reached in 2013 be­tween Qalipu and its pre­de­ces­sor, the Fed­er­a­tion of New­found­land In­di­ans (FNI) and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

While Vanda Martin has main­tained her sta­tus, she or­ga­nized the protest to voice her con­cerns.

“I feel it’s very un­fair for our peo­ple — who have just as much right — to have sta­tus de­nied,” she said. “We can’t go on be­ing proud of be­ing Mi’kmaq when a big ma­jor­ity of our peo­ple have been de­nied.

“Leave no one be­hind.” Martin called the re­assess­ments a shame­ful act by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

“It’s like they ig­nored us for years, then rec­og­nized us, apol­o­gized, then screwed us over,” she said.

Martin is call­ing upon Qalipu lead­er­ship to fight for sta­tus re­in­state­ment of those im­pacted by the re­assess­ment.

Can­di­dates re­spond

There are 1,468 mem­bers in the Ex­ploits ward, which runs from Point Leam­ing­ton to Buchans and south to St. Al­bans. It is un­known how many peo­ple within this re­gion have been af­fected by the sup­ple­men­tal agree­ment.

Rod Ben­nett, who is run­ning for Ex­ploits ward coun­cilor in the up­com­ing band elec­tion Oct. 23 is frus­trated with the sit­u­a­tion.

“My mother had her sta­tus, she was a mem­ber of the FNI, and now the woman that gave birth to me has lost her sta­tus, but I get to keep it,” he said.

His big­gest is­sue with the new cri­te­ria ap­proach is the 26-point sys­tem, in which mem­bers are re­quired 13 points to re­ceive ap­proval.

“Liv­ing in a New­found­land abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity awarded nine points,” he said.

“A lot of the fam­i­lies, had 10, 11, 12 points and when re­assessed, but were ba­si­cally de­nied (be­cause) they don’t live in a Mi’kmaq com­mu­nity.”

The Cen­tral Voice wasn’t able to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion of how the cri­te­ria’s point sys­tem is struc­tured be­fore dead­line.

Ben­nett ar­gues that be­ing a land­less band, mem­bers shouldn’t be de­nied based on where they live.

“If there’s no land in­volved, we should be able to live any­where,” he said. “It’s com­pletely wrong.”

He too is call­ing on the Qalipu coun­cil to push for the re­in­state­ment of those re­moved from the list.

An­drew Baker, (who was for­merly em­ployed by The Ad­ver­tiser as a colum­nist) seek­ing re-elec­tion as Ex­ploits ward coun­cil­lor, felt the demon­stra­tion was mis­di­rected anger.

“The demon­stra­tion was in the wrong place,” he said, sug­gest­ing the fo­cus should have been a fed­eral gov­ern­ment build­ing.

Baker said mem­bers’ sta­tuses have been re­voked be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is ad­her­ing to the estab­lished terms of the sup­ple­men­tal agree­ment.

“If the Qalipu band coun­cil had its way, th­ese is­sues around peo­ple that are los­ing sta­tus would be re­solved,” he said.

But it doesn’t mean the band are court in­junc­tions against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment fighting for re­in­state­ment, and Qalipu has been ac­cepted into the As­sem­bly of First Na­tions.

Avail­ing of those av­enues, Baker said, “I re­ally think that we are go­ing to get the peo­ple wronged by this process back (re­in­stated).”

ADAM RAN­DELL — THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Vanda Martin was one of a few peo­ple to hold a peace­ful protest at the Qalipu Mi’kmaq band of­fice in Grand Falls-Wind­sor on Mon­day, Oct. 1. The group is fighting for the in­clu­sion of more than 10,000 peo­ple who were re­moved from the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Na­tion Band’s found­ing mem­bers list.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.