Jesseau wants Qalipu band formation to be fair for everyone

Published on February 22, 2010
Ron Jesseau

Corner Brook -

Corner Brook's voice in the Qalipu Watch Group is urging everyone who will be part of the new Qalipu First Nation Band to do their part in supporting the watch group's efforts.

The band is in the process of being established by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, but the undertaking has been a controversial one.

As of the Nov. 30, 2009 registration deadline for members to be on the band's founding members' list, there were still more than 14,000 applications left to be processed.

The Qalipu Watch Group was formed as part of a lobby to extend the enrolment period and to delay the election of a band council until all of the outstanding applications which were submitted by the announced deadline can be processed.

Ron Jesseau of Corner Brook is a member of the watch group's organizing committee. He has already been notified that he will be on the founding members' list, but that has not stopped him from supporting the watch group's mandate.

He has even contributed financially to the fund put in place to help pay the watch group's legal costs.

"We're looking for equality for all of these 25,000 people," Jesseau told The Western Star. "We want everyone to have the democratic right to vote or run for election."

The Qalipu First Nations band could become a reality in April. Calvin White, who chairs the Qalipu Watch Group, has applied to the courts for an injunction which would delay the band from being established.

The watch group's contention is the 14,000 outstanding applications are not expected to all be processed by spring.

Whenever the band gets formed, the election of an executive will have to take place within one year of the formation. Until that election takes place, an interim committee will oversee the band's affairs.

"To fight this in the courts, we need money," said Jesseau. "We have set up a bank account and we would like everyone to contribute. We want the 11,000 people who have got their letter (confirming they will be on the founding members' list) to join the other 14,000 as one to help fund this. We don't know how much this will cost. It's hard to put a figure on it because we don't know how long it will be dragged out."

Jesseau did not know how much money is currently in the bank account the watch group has opened at the Leading Edge Credit Union in St. George's.

While financing the campaign is one thing, the watch group also has concerns about what kinds of decisions the interim committee might make before an election is held, or if elected members will make decisions before all 25,000 applications are processed.

"We don't want to see 11,000 people making decisions that will dictate the future of the other 14,000," he said.