With the federal election campaign now in full swing, Greg Janes feels it’s the right time for a “rally to action” on the reinstatement of status Indians.
The chief of the Burgeo Band of Indians wants former Federation of Newfoundland Indians members — who lost their status through the enrolment process to form the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band — to be reinstated.
Janes believes the supplemental agreement between the federation and the federal government, which resulted in reassessments that cost thousands their status, was designed to remove status cards from many Indigenous people. Further, he says the seven Liberal Members of Parliament from Newfoundland and Labrador have done little to help the 10,500 disenfranchised members removed from the Qalipu founding members list.
“I believe Gudie Hutchings and her federal counterparts have not given this enrolment file the attention it deserves,” he said.
That’s why Janes and Blain Ford, also an outspoken advocate against the Qalipu enrolment process, are planning a protest rally in front of the campaign office of Hutchings on Broadway in Corner Brook this Friday at 1 p.m.
Janes said he has advised Hutchings of their event, which he has dubbed Black Friday, and he’s hoping she will be there to meet with them.
“We want a commitment from her and the Liberal Party that all former members who lost status will be reinstated without delay,” he said.
He said they are also demanding a meeting with the prime minister of Canada within 30 days of the formation of a new government. They will be circulating a petition at the rally to that effect and will present it to Hutchings to take to the prime minister.
Janes said everyone should be treated equally and if the prime minister wants reconciliation among Indigenous people, the Liberal party must reinstate those who have lost their status with Qalipu.
He is asking all status and non-status members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation band from Corner Brook and surrounding areas to take part in the rally with their signs and drums.
Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell wanted to make it clear the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band has nothing to do with the protest and that he, members of his board, administration or staff, will not be attending.
An email from the campaign office of Gudie Hutchings indicated she expects to be in her campaign office Friday.