Greg Janes was back at his cottage on Grandy’s River Friday.
He said he was there to decompress.
One day earlier, the retired 22-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces was in St. John’s to fight for his membership in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band, which was set to expire midnight Friday night.
“It upsets me,” he said in an interview Friday afternoon.
Janes, who grew up in Burgeo and is now chief of the newly formed Burgeo Band of Indians, recalled the pride he and his family felt when they received their status cards around nine years ago.
That card is no good to him today. His name, along with his son’s and daughter’s, will not be on the new Qalipu founding members list that is due to come into effect today.
The reason Janes is no longer eligible is he was not living in one of the recognized Mi’kmaq communities in western Newfoundland during the times prescribed by the 2013 supplemental agreement that forced a reassessment of all Qalipu applicants.
Although he retired back to the recognized Mi’kmaq community of Burgeo three years ago, Janes had been stationed in Alberta and then Nova Scotia and Quebec as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces before retiring.
“I never imagined for one second the day would come that the Government of Canada would revoke my status due to my service,” said Janes. “It makes me feel really upset.”
Earlier this year, Janes protested by returning his military service medal to the federal government.
His meeting in St. John’s Friday was as part of a group who met with federal Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan in a last-ditch effort to address the plight of Indigenous veterans who are losing their Qalipu membership.
Janes told O’Regan he feels betrayed by the federal government.
“The Government of Canada can’t have it both ways,” Janes said. “They can’t be Indian givers and say you are status and then take it away. I believe this sends a wrong message to aboriginal veterans.”
Janes had been trying to arrange the meeting for months, but O’Regan’s schedule could not accommodate it until the eve of the new founding members list being formally established.
He said the minister promised to look further into the issue, but made no promises about the results.
Janes and other veterans have already retained a lawyer and said they will resort to taking legal action if that’s what is needed.
“We’re patiently sitting by, holding our breath with fingers and toes crossed, but we told him we are ready to take the Government of Canada to court on this,” said Janes. “We told him we don’t want to go down this road, but it is a road we will go down if need be.”
The Western Star requested an interview with O’Regan about the meeting Thursday, but no response had been received as of deadline Friday.