Mi’kmaq assembly starts boosting membership with Corner Brook meeting

Gary
Gary Kean
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Hector Pearce, vice-chair of the Mi’kmaq First Nations Assembly of Newfoundland (MFNAN), addresses the hundreds of people gathered at a public meeting at the Pepsi Centre Thursday.

CORNER BROOK  The Mi’kmaq First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland is hoping to boost its membership and got a good start on that during an information session held in Corner Brook Thursday night.

The assembly has been organized to fight the controversial enrolment process into the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band in light of the concern thousands of people will be denied membership in the band.

By the time Thursday’s meeting was to begin at 7 p.m., around 300 people had packed into a meeting room at the Pepsi Centre. Shortly after the meeting began, a wall dividing the civic centre’s meeting rooms was pulled back so the 100 or so people in an adjoining room could also see and hear what was being said.

Many of those in attendance signed up as new members of the assembly, formerly known as the Qalipu Watchdogs.

Hector Pearce, the assembly’s vice-chairperson, said he would like to see 10,000 out of the 105,000 or so total applicants involved in the enrolment process join the assembly’s efforts. So far, the assembly has 3,000 members.

“I’m not sure of the exact number yet, but we had dozens sign up here tonight,” said Pearce after addressing the crowd. “They were flocking to the registration table.”

When he spoke to the crowd, Pearce gave a rundown of the history of the process that led to the formation of the assembly and discussed its plans to fight the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to ensure every single applicant is treated in the same fashion.

The assembly contends that, because of the unexpectedly high number of applicants, the federal government will treat those who applied in the latter stages of the process differently in order to reduce the number of people who will be enrolled in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.

If there can’t be a political solution to the situation, the assembly plans to bring its fight to court.

“There’s no doubt this will end up in court,” Pearce said of his thoughts on the chances of it being resolved by dealing with government.

Pearce said the cause of the assembly is not really about getting aboriginal status, but more about the principle of being denied for unacceptable reasons.

“Membership now is not as important to me as principle,” he said. “I don’t like to be told I’m not something that I am.”

That particular comment drew a round of applause from the audience.

For that same principle, Pearce said the assembly should be getting support and not a cold shoulder from the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band. The assembly has received correspondence from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt, but Pearce said it has never had an email or phone call returned from the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.

“The people that are presently members of the Qalipu and us right here in this room, we’re all the same: we have ancestors that were Mi’kmaq,” he said. “The Qalipu Mi’kmaq organization should be taking up our cause, they should be representing me, as well as people that have their status.”

There are people, noted Pearce, who have been accepted into the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band who have also joined the assembly because they believe other applicants are possibly being treated wrongly.

“I’m one of them,” exclaimed one man in the crowd.

Jerry Lavers, the assembly’s treasurer, took the floor after Pearce and instructed people how to go about joining the assembly through its website. He said the political solution in the long run could end up being the assembly negotiating recognition on its own merits with a future federal government.

“The more of us there are, the more of a force we are going to be to be reckoned with and the more political clout we’re going to have,” said Lavers. “Before the next federal election, you can expect this group to become very political and very supportive of whichever party in the federal playing field is going to support our objectives.”

Organizations: First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland, Pepsi Centre, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Geographic location: Corner Brook

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • JOHN SAUNDERS
    June 25, 2014 - 11:45

    what steps do i have to take to attend meeting in corner brook please reply thanks john

  • Ruby E.Ross
    March 24, 2014 - 10:30

    The government has dragged its feet with regards to enrolement of aborginalpeople in newfoundland and Labrador .Ihave letters from inc as far back as1988.when i first applied for status and has been denied every time i correspond with them.I am definetly an aborigial as I have the scars to prove it my brothers and I were beaten in day school back in the 40'50'and 60'and still no reconcilation. let' put Premier Harper in his place out of political offie permantly.

  • william sutherland
    February 08, 2014 - 03:57

    I as a native Indian ,we should have the rights to express our views and thoughts on this ongoing delema . I think the ones that are register now should stay , don't take away our ancestory . We have the proof in there now , don't strip us of our rights . I believe we ought not again do as our ancestors did and turn a corner wearing the mask of silence . If you are a native you are one , you cant change that . We love our ancestory and the lnds for all we do on it ----- fishing , hunting , rabbit catching ,bird hunting , berry picking , cod jigging , ice fishing , trapping and the list goes on and on people , we people to speak up for us , not stay silent .

  • DMK
    January 22, 2014 - 12:08

    My family only found out in 2012 that we were related to Mi’kmaq First Nation. We submitted our application for status in Aug of the same year. We have received a letter asking us to prove our self-identification within the group. This is literally impossible - to show receipts of visits etc. We have been visiting relatives in Corner Brook since we were small children, not knowing that we were part of an aboriginal group. I and my family are not interested in any monetary gain, we are primarily interested in knowing and recognizing our heritage. I say to the Fed Gov't - It this so bad.......

  • Stanley and TheresaFelix
    December 08, 2013 - 12:48

    its only three years ago when we check with our aunt sister that we are related to the Mi Kmaq First Nation. We had a letter come and are asking for self-identified as a member of the Mi' Kmaq Indians of Newfoundland. What information I had I send it to them. What do I do

  • CBGirl
    December 06, 2013 - 18:26

    Does anyone know if the rejected applications are being destroyed? This application vetting process, and thats all this was, vetting so far, was to see if you had an application fulfilling the requirements on paper (filled out, containing enough info). It has zip to do with whether or not you are native. Be lucky this stage was added, because without it, a lot of people who received letters to submit further information could have received rejections like those who didnt sign their applications. Now for those who need to submit further information, focus on that. Hold a big huge meeting to explain that aspect, because there is a lot of misinformation flying around by the rumour mill, even though it is explained on the site. And hold that meeting streamed online, so people outside the province can hear/see it. That being said, Gerry Byrne has been rather silent...

    • doublesatandard
      December 07, 2013 - 09:16

      "That being said, Gerry Byrne has been rather silent..." Funny thing, Gerry Byrnes is more vocal than the so called Chief Sheppard, enjoy it because you won't be Chief for long.

  • Dameion osmond
    December 06, 2013 - 16:39

    First of all, great job mfnan! Keep up the good work. Behind you all the way. Secondly, to those of you who have posted with negative comments. So shameful. Everyone who has applied on time, with all proper documentation is entitled to be a member of the so called Qalipu "band". Every one of us know there are little to no benefits in joining QFN. So why does the people with membership bring this up? Because of greed? Maybe. Are they scared to loose what little benefits they do have? Or is it because they see a piece of pie that they claim is there's only because they made it there first? Possibly. Every one of these people are related in some way to each other, this has been proven. That is why the new supplemental agreement is here. Because we are all linked to the same people, but.... Because someone applied at a different time, now a person should be forgotten. Not a chance. Ill give you 2 words that are most important to know as a mi'kmaw. Msit no'kmaq. Translation. All my relations. So way to go mfnan. The chief has forgotten about tradition, language and most important family, but you keep fighting for all of us. Behind you to the end. Msit no'kmaq

  • Mikmaq man
    December 06, 2013 - 11:07

    IT WAS A GREAT MEETING :)

  • Richard
    December 06, 2013 - 10:27

    I attended the meeting. Very well attended and organized. I urge all affected applicants to join the MAFN. The membership fee is $20.00 per year to pay anticipated legal costs, it will be the best money you have ever spent to correct an injustice. They have the best law firm for in the country to act on our behalf. Please help protect your ancestral heritage and legal rights. Its up to all of us who are seriously interested to support this important matter. I also urge members to volunteer and do what you can to support the MAFN as they are strictly volunteers and would appreciate the help. The road may be long but the outcome should be the same. SUCCESS......

  • John Q Whiteguy
    December 06, 2013 - 09:26

    Funny I don't recall so many people expressing interest in their Mi’kmaq ancestry just a few short years ago. Funny how things change when there is a pot of money involved. Am I skeptical? You betcha!

  • theresa locke
    December 06, 2013 - 08:15

    It's real good to see such a large crowd.People are starting to stand up for their rights.Wonderful!

  • Wilfred Barnes
    December 06, 2013 - 07:10

    The problem with the Mi’kmaq First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland is that they seem to assume that all of those people joining their efforts deserve to members of the First Nation. This is inherently wrong. No doubt, many of those people joining the effort have little to no connection to their aboriginal roots - in fact - from what I hear a lot of people are coming forward only because they want tax free cars and other misconceptions about the free-rider things they'll get as a member. People trying to join are complaining about how hard it is to get into the Qalipu band.. if that is their problem, then they're probably too far down the blood line to claim a connection to their ancestry. Where do you stop? At the person who is one one hundreths down the blood line? Jeesh.. this is all a joke.

    • Richard
      December 06, 2013 - 14:53

      Wilfred and John White Guy. We heard all that before. You offer no worth while opinions to this issue . Only negative small minded comments. You remind me of nuisance black flies in the woods deserving of a good swat. Why can't their be a sensible discussion of the issues?

    • PB
      December 06, 2013 - 19:24

      So Mr. Barnes how far down the Blood Line is too far? My mother in law's grandmother was Mi'kmaq, and they are having the same "problem" as you call it joining the Qalipu Band. The issue as I see it is the Federal Government signed a Legal Contract and are now not willing to uphold their end of the contract.