They started by laying down tobacco to honour Jerry Brake, a Mi’kmaw man and champion for those denied status in the Qalipu First Nation Band, who died earlier this week in Ontario.
And then there was a smudging to clear away any negativity.
Ceremony completed, Greg Janes got to the point why a group of just less than 20 people gathered outside the campaign headquarters of Gudie Hutchings, the Liberal candidate for the Long Range Mountains, in Corner Brook on Friday.
Janes, the chief of the Burgeo band, said the rally was held to call on Hutchings to bring to Ottawa the voices of those who have had their status taken away.
The group wants Hutchings to urge the federal government to reinstate the former Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) members who lost their status because of the supplemental agreement used in the enrolment process.
Janes, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, lost his status because he was not living in one of the recognized Mi’kmaq communities in western Newfoundland during the times prescribed by the 2013 supplemental agreement.
He said they wanted to bring to Hutching’s attention it was “unjust and unfair” to deny status to 10,500 FNI members.
While exploratory talks had been happening prior to the federal election call, Janes said there was no deadline or mandate for them.
“There’s no meat on the bone,” he said.
“I don’t think that we need to talk for another four years.”
He said everyone knows the wrong that was done and it needs to be corrected.
Holding up his old status card, he said everyone should have the same right and the fight will not stop until that right is returned and people are reinstated as Indians in the eyes of the federal government.
“We damn well do belong,” said Janes.
After talking with the group inside her headquarters, Hutchings said, “I’ll be bringing the voice back. I just don’t know where.
“If it’s a Liberal majority government we’ll continue where we left off.”
That’s with the review of the FNI members who were removed from the band’s membership.
“The original FNI members who were proud of their history, and their culture and their heritage all their life, and they were not included. They were not included in the new point system.
That’s the part in the whole system that’s wrong.”
Hutchings agrees the process has been painfully slow, but said small steps forward had been happening before the election call.
What others had to say
“I came here to look for my rights. My rights were taken away from me.
“I was a status Indian right from day one right on up until they came out with the supplemental agreement and put the process in place to take me out.
“I didn’t prove I was connected to a Mi’kmaq community.”
“People were done wrong.
“This point system that they used is a farce.
“If you’re status, you’re status.
“If you’re a landless band, you should be able to live anywhere.
“I think it all boils down to the fact that they were just overwhelmed with the numbers.”