Byrne wants to appear as a witness at committee hearing on Bill C-25

Diane Crocker
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The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development began its study of Bill C-25 in Ottawa on Tuesday, and Gerry Byrne plans to try and have his name added to the witness list.

Bill C-25, an Act respecting the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Order, was introduced in the House of Commons in late February and the federal Conservatives tabled a motion of closure on it on March 6 and sent it to the committee stage.

“It’s not unheard of for an MP to present to a committee, especially when he has a certain knowledge base of an issue,” said Byrne, the Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, from Ottawa on Tuesday.

According to the committee website a meeting on Bill C-25 was scheduled from 3:30 to 5 p.m. (EDT) and Byrne said he has learned that Aboriginal Affairs Minster Bernard Valcourt and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and their lawyer would be the first witnesses.

Outside Tuesday’s meeting, Byrne said no other meetings had been scheduled.

But when they are, he wants to be included.

“One of the things that I would explain to them, is if the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the enrolment process is paramount, the new process the government and the Qalipu/FNI have established does not meet that objective.”

Byrne said once the process is complete there will be people enrolled in the band who did not practice the Mi’kmaq way of life and who lived outside Mi’kmaq community.

“The only difference is they signed their application before Sept. 21, 2011 and you’ll have another group that signed afterwards.”

Byrne also claims that it was the FNI that reached out to get applicants from outside the province to apply.

He said a requirement in the agreement said that if 50 per cent of the original number of members of FNI did not enroll within one year of the date of signing of the agreement that the agreement could be null and void.

“So there was an actual incentive, there was an imperative for the FNI to start signing up people.”

He said those same people are now being described as inappropriate for membership in the band.

Organizations: FNI, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, House of Commons Federation of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Thomas Zinck
    March 26, 2014 - 16:51

    Yes my daughter and I had reapplied in 2009 for our Native Status.However...I applied back in Sept 2008 when this band wasn't even in existence. The Indian Affairs had stated to me by letter that when the band in NL was formed. That my chances would be in a better situation for exceptance of the new band. However, this didn't turn out to be true whatsoever! As matter of fact,it turned out to be a 3year nightmare.I was tossed from one person to another all this time. Only back in May of 2013 had I received an answer. This was of course denied by the Chairman of the committee Mr. Tom Rideout. I then spoke to the chief Mr. Brendon Shepherd who only spoke to me for a brief moment, and hung up on me before I could get a conversation going. This is one really ignorant person!! So a little later on I received a letter from Mr. Tom Rideout who of course had denied my application.I was told that I could apply to the appeal master,in which I had. His only reason was to deny me because he wouldn't except all the evidence that was presented to him,and this is not what a proper appeal judge is allowed to do, according to my member of Parliament, The Right Honourable Domminic LeBlanc. He claimed that my case was a case of discrimination, and in denial from the beginning of my application. So now I had been fighting this case since 2002, when my brother had found out from my aunt that we were Mi'Kmaq decent from her dying bed. So I do hope that this case, and others like me, will be defeated in the Supreme Court of Canada because that's the place where the law will see the truth, as the Federal Court of Canada had later last year stated we were all Indians if we had a strong background of Native decent. This I had from my Grandparents,and my Mother. The Prime Minister Steven Harper is the one who's behind this whole denial of our Native Status. Mr. Valcourt is only the messenger for the PM Steven Harper. signed by Mr. Thomas Zinck Mi'Kmaq Native.

  • John
    March 26, 2014 - 10:00

    Some one has to try and correct this injustice.