Multiple committees needed to process applications: chair

Diane Crocker
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Tom Rideout

CORNER BROOK — With 70,000 applications for membership in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band left to be processed, Tom Rideout sees only one solution to getting them cleared up.

“It’s not a staff matter,” said Rideout, chair of the band’s enrolment committee. “It’s a matter of the enrolment committee.”

That doesn’t mean simply extending the current process, because Rideout said one committee of five people can only deal with so many applications.

In the first year of operation, the committee cleared out 11,000 applications. Taking an average of 10,000 a year, Rideout said extending the process would mean it would take around seven years to review the remaining 70,000 applications.

“Obviously that’s not a palatable situation for the applicants I wouldn’t think, nor would it be to the parties to the agreement.”

He said the solution lies in having more than one committee, or two or three different sub-committees operating under one chair, thus giving more capacity to process more applications. But he said he has no idea of what the thinking of the parties involved in the process is, nor has he been asked for his opinion.

In late 2008, Rideout was brought in as independent chair of the enrolment committee, which consists of two members appointed by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and two members appointed by the federal government.

The timeline for the committee to complete its work under the agreement on the band’s formation was four years. Initial work involved getting the program set up and running, training and getting the indian registry in place. In 2009 the work was full-time, and since then it has been on a part-time basis.

While the committee has until March 21 to complete its work, Rideout said it is no longer working on determining or making decisions on applications.

“The agreement stipulated that ended 30 days after the deadline for applications,” said Rideout.

The deadline to apply was Nov. 30 and the deadline for working on determining applications was Dec. 30.

But Rideout said the federal government lost a committee member in October and sent in a temporary replacement for a week in December. That, combined with the Christmas period, meant the committee actually finished its determination of applications on Dec. 18.

At that point, it was up to applications that had been received in the fall of 2010.

Out of the 30,000 applications that have been processed, between 24,000 and 25,000 were approved and some 4,000 to 5,000 were rejected. Rideout noted some of those rejections would have been overturned on appeal.

Since then, the role of the committee has been more administrative in terms of sending out letters of approval or rejection, updating the registry, scanning certificates and letters. Rideout said this will continue until March 21, but it’s unlikely he’ll be a part of whatever happens after that date.

He said he signed on to the project for four years and, despite it being an interesting and educational experience, has no interest in going any further with it.





Organizations: Federation of Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    January 27, 2013 - 13:52

    I have the feeling that the federal government is now suffering the hangover effect for ever wading into this Qualipu experiment in the first place. I am sure that all parties went into this idea with the best of intentions however it has progressed to a; level that probably no one saw coming. Yes there are probably a core group of people who are actually interested in their native ancestry and hoping to preserve it for future generations. However there is a substantial vast majority of the applicants who are applying for one very simple reason. What can I get out of the system?

  • MaryP
    January 26, 2013 - 01:12

    Maybe there is a reason not to, but, I don't understand why the Qalipu and feds do not take advantage of the many people who have offerred over the past few years to "volunteer" time to help with the process of getting through all these aplications. Some of these people who offerred to volunteer were former fed employees who have already had clearances with the feds, so, I don't understand why they could not be used .. it would have helped with the workload and with the time it would have taken. Just my 2 cents

  • Talking Smoke
    January 25, 2013 - 21:50

    Well Robbob I did ask for examples. But they were not Federal Government cheques. And if you were in Labrador then I assume they were either Innu or Inuit workers..... The only First Nations Indians are located in the Eastern Arctic (Quebec Territory) and not in Labrador as far as I know....But seeing that you opened the door, I worked as a construction supervisor in Toronto for about 20 years. We would hire workers and many from here. Once they were a few weeks from getting their stamps their work slowed and many starting looking for layoffs. So I guess we can find them in all cultures. But that is not the norm....

    • Robbob
      January 26, 2013 - 08:16

      Your correct Talking Smoke, they were Inuit, and their UI cheques were Government cheques and their wages were subsidized by the Federal Government, all of which they didn't have to do anything to obtain other than have a status. I am aware of the Toronto situation back then, and I was one of those workers in my late teens and early 20's in the mid to late 80s. I hated the city and only went there because there was little work here. I worked my ass off from spring to fall and my wages were not subsidized. I worked on a lot of those jobs sites back then and if we didn't work like dogs, we were let go quickly, especially if you were a Newf. Newfs were expected to work hard and have been known the world over as very hard workers. Not sure what has happened since then to the Newf work ethic :( , but, I digress. The point was that those people were given a free ride simply because of that status, all compliments of the Government. Don't get me wrong, I know many, many hard working native people and I'm not saying all native peoples act like those did back then. I was simply making my point that there have been and are many native peoples that simply feed of their status. I also know a few current applicants and members of the Qalipu Band that will tell you straight up, they are members or applicants because of the benefits, nothing more. Personally, I have no idea what those benefits consist of.

    • Talking Smoke
      January 26, 2013 - 16:21

      Well Robbob most people regardless of status or not get UI cheques when they are unemployed and also get top ups. And the Inuit have an entirely different type of negotiated settlement and have reserve status...With land, fishing and hunting rights...But with respect to benefits here, there really aren't a lot... Uninsured drug benefits. So using myself as an example, if I has status, which I don't, then my heart pills which are not covered by my insurance would be paid and I would save about $100 a month...Which is a great benefit seeing that I am on a pension.. Oh! Canada Pension cause I worked for 42 years...Nope no private pension.....And also medical travel if required... Dental and glasses are partially paid....Depends on what is needed... Education might be paid and that depends on if there is sufficient funding. Education funding is limited.. No tax breaks except I have heard that if one wants to go to a reserve they can buy a vehicle tax free..... Can't buy tax free at the stores...And there are no tax free or reduced gas prices in NL...There are NO MONTHLY CHEQUES to anyone in the Qalipu Band except I believe the chief.... So if one is on income support the benefits are about the same.... I assume many believe that status brings money at the end of the month............. roflmao Maybe it does jn some places but definately not here.. Nor can status bring hunting and fishing rights, or land claims here.... So at the end of the day most will have exactly what they had prior to getting their status except for another card to hide the over used credit card. lol

  • Mary
    January 25, 2013 - 21:45

    I am a registered indian & I am a hard working engineer who has never gotten a "token" cheque from any government. I pay a mortgage, I have a truck payment & a private medical insurance plan for my family. I am proud of who I am & what I am. I teach my family things that my grandmother taught me & she was 1/2 indian. I respect all life & I abide by the law so I apply for my moose license every year along with everyone else. I do not ask for special treatment but I do want to be respected for who & what I am, a hard working person who pays her taxes & pays her own way in life. With this being said I am assuming that the people of the Qualipu FNB are just trying to be recognized for who they are & if anyone expects a great win-fall for being native then they will get a reality check instead of a government cheque very soon

    • Shawn
      January 26, 2013 - 09:27

      I and I think most around here have much respect for you and those like you, not because of your ancestry(we all have one of those), but because of your day to day. It's those that demand respect and benefits from me and others because of their status that I have a problem with.

  • ryan
    January 25, 2013 - 16:43

    1949-2013..whats another 7-8 years ?

  • Dave
    January 25, 2013 - 12:17

    The problem with the processing the applications was identified a lot of years ago. They knew there was no way of getting through the applications with the present committee, so why wasn't something put in place long before now.

  • wtf
    January 25, 2013 - 12:17

    I know a few people that have either been approved or are applying and they are about 90% of european ancestry. Just how many generations back are people allowed to go to find a Mi'kmaq ancestor? It seems odd to describe people as Mi'kmaw when they are more european than first nation.

    • Talking Smoke
      January 25, 2013 - 15:17

      Well WTF you are correct and also incorrect. It is ODD that some have been approved, that there are some with almost full Mi'Kmaq ancestry who are likely going to be left out...With respect to ancestry, I too assunmed that many, like myself had little or no Mi'kmaq ancestry. However, once the geneology was completed with documentation and to my amazement it was discovered that my so called European ancestors were in fact not European at all. I assumed that because of their last names and how they looked that they were wolves in the hen house, so to speak. Now after almost 12 years of researching stuff and getting a better look at stuff, I can see how some may be confused. But I also agree that there are some who should not be accepted as members. We have to leave it upto those who review material and hope for the best....

  • Cynthia
    January 25, 2013 - 11:33

    I would think it would be more cost effective to hire more people to work over a shorter period of time than to hire less people over a longer period of time.They now know how many applications there are and don't have to worry about more coming in.Surely to God with all the technology they have today they can figure out a timeline to finish this up and everyone will be happy.

  • david
    January 25, 2013 - 08:17

    Work for 5 years processing applications, and money for life for thousands of "oppressed victims" afterwards! Ski doo safe, eh.

    • Talking Smoke
      January 25, 2013 - 11:53

      Money for life??? LOL How misinformed people are. David please give some examples where status indians who live off reserve get a cheque every month from the government. And also where status indians ON reserve get a cheque every month for being status indians.... I do agree that there are some reserves where the leadership is over paid. But that is not the norm and hopefully these things will stop. There are many who actually believe that by getting status they will get a big fat cheque every month. They too are misinformed.

    • Robbob
      January 25, 2013 - 19:52

      Well, Talking Smoke, let me tell you my experiences. I worked on one of the Labrador relocation projects back in early 90's and the contractors were required by Government to hire x number of status Indians on each job site in a variety of disciplines, regardless of qualifications. Some of these people worked hard and did what was required of them on the job. The majority of them came to work with coolers and lawn chairs and sat by and watched the rest of us work. They were certainly not lazy as they would work their butts of when they got home but they knew the deal with the jobs and were told so before they were hired. The foremen were not allowed to question them and the companies were not allowed to fire any of them for any reason what so ever, until they had their weeks(back then weeks instead of hrs) to qualify for UI. Once they had enough weeks, another crew of them were brought in with similar results. You say there are no status Indians that sit back and collect a cheque every month and you are right. These people were getting two cheques each month.

  • Talking Smoke
    January 25, 2013 - 08:02

    And it is hightly unlikely, but I guess a very slim to none chance, that anything will be done after that. And if Mr. Rideout is correct and it takes 7 to 8 years to review all the applications,based on having a few peole review applications, then many will just give up and go back to where they started. This entire process was a sham from the onset. It was designed to keep thousands out of the band. Another insult to the Mi'Kmaq people.