So far, the posts on social media from people receiving decisions on their appeals of enrolment in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band have all been bad news.
Chief Brendan Mitchell said this is disappointing, but was to be expected at this point in the process.
Decision letters for the roughly 13,000 people who filed appeals began to be sent out by the third party Appeal Master who assessed the appeals in October.
According to the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, 4,827 decision letters had been mailed out as of Dec. 1 and around 8,000 more are yet to be communicated.
The federal department did not provide The Western Star with any information about whether any of the 4,827 notifications sent out included any that had initial rejections for membership in the band overturned.
In an interview Wednesday, Mitchell told The Western Star all of the letters received by appellants so far would have been rejections. He said that’s because any appeals that might get overturned will have to go through another phase of the appeal process that will confirm the ancestry component.
He did say Qalipu has been apprised that some of the appeals have been forwarded to the next phase of assessment, but said he does not have a number of how many cases there are in that category.
Still, the chief did not hold out much hope for many successful appeals.
“Very few people are coming into the band (as a result of the appeals process),” he said. “In a nutshell, expectations are high, but positive results for appellants will be low in this process. That’s discouraging for me.”
Mitchell said he and the rest of his council are particularly concerned about the roughly 10,500 people who had originally been considered on the band’s founding members list — which was close to 24,000 people strong in 2011 — but who lost that status after the controversial 2013 supplemental agreement that led to the reassessment of every applicant.
All of the appellants will be notified of the decisions on their cases in the next two months.
The revised founding members list will not be known until the conclusion of the appeal process and officially confirmed through an order-in-council by the federal government expected in spring 2018.