Retired lawyer Doug Doucette willing to take on lawsuit over Qalipu enrolment process


Published on March 16, 2017

Doucette

Doug Doucette says the parties involved in the controversial Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band enrolment process have to be held accountable.

To do that, he is preparing to go to court.

The retired lawyer, formerly of Corner Brook and now residing in Alberta, is a cousin of Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell.

“I had thought someone was keeping tabs on what the Qalipu band was doing, but it seems no one was,” charged Doucette about his frustration over the enrolment fallout.

The process has resulted in more than 10,000 people who had originally been on the band’s founding members list now being told they no longer are eligible because of stricter rules introduced by a supplemental agreement in 2013.

Less than 20 per cent of the nearly 101,000 people who applied for Qalipu membership have been accepted.

Doucette said there doesn’t seem to be any consistent rhyme or reason to how people are being accepted or rejected. He plans to file a class-action lawsuit, with himself as the representative plaintiff, to have the supplemental agreement quashed.

He also believes the original agreement in principle singed in 2008 has no legal basis.

His chief argument is that the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has no constitutional authority to strike a deal with an incorporated entity, namely the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, to determine who should be in an indigenous band.

The federation reached the deal to form Qalipu and currently continues negotiating and implementing the agreements with the federal government. The only people eligible to be members of the federation are the current elected Qalipu council members, but four of those 12 elected officials have resigned from the federation since last summer.

Doucette believes it should have been the Qalipu band itself and not the Federation of Newfoundland Indians that signed any supplemental agreement.

Doucette said he will not accept any payment to fight the legal battle, and anyone denied membership will be eligible to be part of the class-action lawsuit.

The suit will be against the federal government, the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.

“We just want the band to do the right thing and stand up to the federal government and say, ‘We’re going to be the ones who determines the band’s membership,’” Doucette said.

He intends to file documents with the Supreme Court of Canada in the next month or so.

Related stories:

Qalipu council memebrs resigned from Federation of Newfoundland Indians

Only 18,044 people were successful in Qalipu enrolment process