Deadline to appeal Qalipu membership denial extended two weeks

Published on February 16, 2017

Premier Dwight Ball speaks at a news conference Thursday in Little Rapids.

©Gary Kean/TC Media

Those who are appealing their decisions now have an extra two weeks to file their appeals.

Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell confirmed for The Western Star Thursday afternoon that the federal government has agreed to extend the deadline from March 17 to March 31.

Mitchell said, if the band feels it is necessary, it will ask for yet another extension beyond the end of the month.

The band is also expected to release a schedule for more end of enrolment information sessions across the province. Those meetings began in the Bay St. George area this week.

Mitchell confirmed that the schedule will include a stop in Burgeo, where 47 members of the Mi’kmaq community attended a meeting Wednesday night to discuss how they will deal with the large number of people denied membership.

More than 140 people have signed a petition in Burgeo, demanding the chief and ward councillor Ben Bennett come meet with them in person.

It’s largely a fight with the federal government, but Premier Dwight Ball said the province will do what it can to help those with concerns about the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band enrolment process.

The process has been mired in controversy since thousands of people began finding out earlier this month that they do not qualify for membership in the indigenous group.

Only 18,044 of the nearly 101,000 people who applied for membership have been granted status with Qalipu. Among those denied are more than 10,000 who had been considered founding members on the original founding members list issued prior to 2013, when a supplemental agreement between the federal government and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians began to whittle away at the burgeoning number of applicants.

When asked about the situation Thursday, Ball said he has met with leaders on this issue and all seven of Newfoundland and Labrador’s members of Parliament. He said his cabinet and caucus are fully engaged on the issue also.

He encouraged everyone who is eligible to appeal their denial to do so.

The premier said, despite this being a federal issue, the province does have concerns. Among those concerns are situations such as people who have discontinued their own personal insurance policies because they had coverage as Qalipu members, but now find themselves about to lose their status and benefits.

“We are having early discussions with the federal government on all of these issues and we will continue to support these groups through the appeal process and beyond if required,” said Ball.