New legislation permits Qalipu agreement amendment, indemnifies federal government

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Gary Kean
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Gerry Byrne. — Telegram file photo

The federal government proposed legislation in the House of Commons Tuesday it says will “ensure that all applicants are treated equitably and fairly” in the ongoing enrolment process for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

However, one western Newfoundland MP says the legislation is not needed and that it says something else those concerned about the process should take note of.

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Act, or Bill C-25 — as it was introduced in the House of Commons Tuesday, was touted in a press release from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada as ensuring that only those individuals with a legitimate claim to membership will be registered following the completion of the enrolment process.

The proposed legislation reflects the original intention of the parties with respect to the creation of a Founding Members list for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation and supports the implementation of the 2013 Supplemental Agreement, which was meant to clarify how to apply certain clauses of the original agreement reached in 2008.

Bill C-25 itself essentially has two clauses of note. The first, clause 3, gives the federal government permission to amend the original agreement.

The second, clause 4, states that the federal government cannot be held liable by people who are not included in the formation of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

Gerry Byrne, the Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, said the federal government did not need to pass legislation to make the amendment and the real point of Bill C-25 is to protect the federal government from the potential legal action that could be taken by those who feel wronged by the process.

“This is just a big smokescreen to institute the real purpose of the bill, which is to indemnify and prevent any liability to the federal government,” said Byrne. “That is the biggest admission, in my opinion, that government knew this was totally contrary to law and they did it anyway. Now, they are going to use the cover of Parliament to inoculate them from their own actions.”

The press release from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada announcing the legislation said the bill does not in any way change the founding membership enrolment criteria. In a statement from the press release, Minister Bernard Valcourt said the federal government is committed to working with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians to ensure that enrolment in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation is done in a fair and equitable manner.

“This legislation will help to ensure that, at the end of the day, only eligible individuals will be granted membership in the First Nation membership," stated Valcourt.

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Organizations: House of Commons, First Nation, Liberal Commons Federation of Newfoundland

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  • MFNAN Supporter
    February 27, 2014 - 14:31

    Well said, Harold Barnes! The Mi'kmaq people have always been nomadic. Qalipu is suppose to be a "landless band". More than anythng, the government's "clause 4" in Bill C-25 is an implicit admission that they are in the wrong and liable, otherwise why protect yourself if you've done nothing wrong? The feds are liable and they know it.

  • Harold Barnes
    February 25, 2014 - 23:44

    There has been a lot of things included in this so called formation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation that just don't measure up. They are saying we have to live in a Qalipu Mi'kmaq community in order to qualify for status. Iwas born there and lived there until i had to move from the community in order to get employment. I visit there regularly and keep in touch by telephone. Telling me i am not a member because i don't live there is like telling a black man from africa that he is no longer black, but white because he has moved to Canada. I don't need any hand outs from the government. When i left N.F.L.D in 1966 i knew i had to make a living for myself and not depend on anyone else to provide for me. I married and we settled in kitchener and raised two sons. I never asked the government for anything but worked to provide for my family.I am not looking for housing allowance or any of the perks they provide. I raised my kids not to depend on anyone else but themselves and provide for their families. All funeral arrangements have been done and burial plots bought and paid for so don't tell me i am trying to get status for the handouts, i don't need them. I JUST NEED TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR WHO AND WHAT I AM , A MEMBER OF THE Qalipu Mi'kmaq FIRST NATION BAND. HAROLD BARNES formerly from COX'S COVE, BAY OF ISLANDS, NEWFOUNDLAND. Now settled in KITCHENER, ONTARIO.

    • Christine Dunne
      February 26, 2014 - 12:33

      Well said!

    • Charlene Barnes
      February 27, 2014 - 13:29

      I second that! Well said indeed!