Qalipu Chief Brendan Sheppard said Friday that Bill C- 25 really doesn’t mean anything more than what people have already been made aware of.
Bill C-25, the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Act, was introduced in the House of Commons last week and the Conservatives tabled a motion of closure on it Thursday.
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 Band. It also 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.
“The legislation itself, obviously just goes hand and hand with the information that was provided in a press release to all applicants that a complete review of all applications would be taking place and the possibility that some people who already have received their status could very well have their status taken back, their status cards revoked.”
With that having been said, Sheppard said “government has to follow through with legislation to actually be able to do that.”
Meanwhile, Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, has expressed concern over two clauses contained in the bill — Clause 3, which gives the federal government permission to amend the original agreement and Clause 4, which states that the federal government cannot be held liable by people who are not included in the formation of the band.
Sheppard said Byrne has stated that the bill is the federal government’s way of protecting itself against litigation.
But he said that is false.
“People have the right to take legal action and of course this is happening as we know.”
He said the Mi’kmaq First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador is setting up that now and advertising for people to provide them with funds so they can launch a class-action suit against the government.
Sheppard also takes exception to Byrne’s statements that there have been changes to the agreement on the band’s formation and that the only criteria applicants had to originally meet was to prove aboriginal ancestry.
Sheppard said Section 4, 1, d found on Page 14 of the agreement states criteria for acceptance — self identification, ancestral connection in the historic communities and community acceptance.
He said those criteria are based on and nothing different from what has already been set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley case on Metis rights.
“This is in the agreement and it was in our agreement. There is no change to that and that’s what the (enrolment) committee is basically living up to.”