While staff at the band have other projects and initiatives they are working on, Sheppard said many of these things can’t move forward until the registration process is completed. But the enrolment process is now under review by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The review was prompted by the growing number of applications that had been filed seeking membership in Qalipu. More than 70,000 applications were received before the final enrolment phase ended in November, bringing the total for both stages to over 100,000.
“It’s not something that I’m sure the department are jumping with joy about,” said Sheppard of the numbers.
However, while no decisions on the process and what it will involve have been made, Sheppard thinks it will become more stringent and there will be many who won’t qualify. But, he noted, the same thing occurred in the earlier enrolment phase. At this point in time, though, the agreement is being honoured and applications continue to be processed. Sheppard said two meetings on the issue are scheduled to take place this month.
“I’m sure the Government of Canada has no particular agenda to end without the applications being assessed and being reviewed,” said Sheppard.
He said the current talks are something on which the band has to move carefully, “To make sure the best interests of the people who have applied is looked at.”
To serve the Qalipu membership the way it should be served means nailing down the amount of people the band will be dealing with for years to come, Sheppard added.
“Until we reach that there’s many things somewhat left in limbo from a funding perspective.”
Meanwhile, with the enrolment phase completed, the band has closed its satellite enrolment offices in St. George’s and Glenwood and all applications have been moved to the Corner Brook office, where enrolment clerks have been offered other opportunities.
In terms of the other projects and initiatives the band is working on, Sheppard said it will continue to pursue all avenues where opportunities present themselves.