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All Qalipu applications should be honoured

['WS-xx-letter to the editor']
['WS-xx-letter to the editor']

In the coming days the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians will issue letters to every member and applicant to the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band concerning their future membership in the Band.

The earlier decision by a former Qalipu Band Council and by Canada to effectively void the previous enrollment decisions and to establish an alternate assessment process for both processed and unprocessed applications (including those already registered under the Indian Act) has been a contentious decision to say the least.

As many are aware, I have maintained a firm stand that all applications, both those successfully processed and those left unprocessed at the scheduled end of the enrollment period, should be honoured and that the processing of all such applications should continue using the same instructions and methodology employed by the Enrollment Committee prior to the formation of the Band and right up to November of 2012.

To support my arguments, many will recall that I tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to act of this exact instruction. Parliament was seized with this issue for several days. Debate continued on my motion and on Bill C-25 where I recorded my firm opposition to any legislation that exempts Canada from being legally liable for the consequences of its decisions in this regard. Throughout this period I continued to meet with officials from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, with government ministers and with my own federal Liberal caucus which I was a member of at the time. Further to this, I took the opportunity to organize five town hall information sessions at various times in Western Newfoundland and attended several community-based gatherings; one which resulted in my being unceremonious removed from the Corner Brook Band offices. My efforts have continued right to this day. More recently, I met in Ottawa with members of the current Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal caucus and in Corner Brook with the Qalipu Band Council on several occasions to try to seek a more equitable resolve.

Regrettably, it appears that over 103,000 letters will soon be delivered containing the results of the revised enrollment process. While it is uncertain what the exact result will be, based on recent comments made by people who were directly involved in the revised enrollment process, there will likely be thousands of current members removed from the Band and very few of the remaining applicants ever enrolled. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of this decision, it would be difficult for anyone to argue that anything about this revised process did anything to promote better reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples – including those from Newfoundland.

Gerry Byrne, MHA for the District of Corner Brook

The earlier decision by a former Qalipu Band Council and by Canada to effectively void the previous enrollment decisions and to establish an alternate assessment process for both processed and unprocessed applications (including those already registered under the Indian Act) has been a contentious decision to say the least.

As many are aware, I have maintained a firm stand that all applications, both those successfully processed and those left unprocessed at the scheduled end of the enrollment period, should be honoured and that the processing of all such applications should continue using the same instructions and methodology employed by the Enrollment Committee prior to the formation of the Band and right up to November of 2012.

To support my arguments, many will recall that I tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to act of this exact instruction. Parliament was seized with this issue for several days. Debate continued on my motion and on Bill C-25 where I recorded my firm opposition to any legislation that exempts Canada from being legally liable for the consequences of its decisions in this regard. Throughout this period I continued to meet with officials from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, with government ministers and with my own federal Liberal caucus which I was a member of at the time. Further to this, I took the opportunity to organize five town hall information sessions at various times in Western Newfoundland and attended several community-based gatherings; one which resulted in my being unceremonious removed from the Corner Brook Band offices. My efforts have continued right to this day. More recently, I met in Ottawa with members of the current Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal caucus and in Corner Brook with the Qalipu Band Council on several occasions to try to seek a more equitable resolve.

Regrettably, it appears that over 103,000 letters will soon be delivered containing the results of the revised enrollment process. While it is uncertain what the exact result will be, based on recent comments made by people who were directly involved in the revised enrollment process, there will likely be thousands of current members removed from the Band and very few of the remaining applicants ever enrolled. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of this decision, it would be difficult for anyone to argue that anything about this revised process did anything to promote better reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples – including those from Newfoundland.

Gerry Byrne, MHA for the District of Corner Brook

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