One of the four legal actions centred around the controversial Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band enrolment process has been hit by a major legal blow.
The lawsuit filed by former lawyer Douglas Doucette in the Federal Court of Canada has been dismissed, though he says he is appealing the decision.
Doucette filed a statement of claim against Qalipu, the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) and the federal government in March.
He had asked the court to strike down both the 2008 agreement-in-principle between the government and the FNI to create the Qalipu band and the 2013 supplemental agreement that introduced stricter criteria for band membership.
This past summer, Doucette encountered some legal snags and indicated he wished to submit an amended statement of claim.
On Nov. 3, the court dismissed Doucette’s statement of claim with no chance of him amending it.
He said an appeal of that decision was filed Nov. 13.
The three other court actions filed in relation to the Qalipu enrolment process are at various stages of the legal process.
One filed has former Corner Brook resident Jerry Brake as the representative plaintiff in a potential class-action lawsuit. That legal action is against the federal government and seeks to invalidate the 2013 supplemental agreement that led to some 80,000 people being rejected from inclusion on the Qalipu founding members list.
Brake’s lawsuit on behalf of all rejected applicants is at a procedural stage that precedes a hearing being set.
Both Doucette and Brake had been seeking financial compensation for their claims of wrongdoing.
The other two court cases challenging the legalities of the enrolment have been jointly filed by the Mi’kmaq First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, an entity established to support those who feel disenfranchised by the Qalipu enrolment process.
Those claims are seeking to have the process used to determine Qalipu membership declared null and void and for the entire process of enrolment to start afresh.
According to the Federal Court of Canada, one of those legal battles, which names Sandra Frances Wells as a plaintiff, is also still at the case-management phase.
The other, which names assembly chairperson David Robert Wells as its plaintiff, has completed all the procedural steps necessary leading up to a hearing to request a judicial review of the enrolment process.
Dave Wells told The Western Star Wednesday that both of the assembly’s jointly filed cases are awaiting a hearing date and will be heard together, but no hearing date has yet been set.
The difference between the two jointly filed applications is that one group, including David Wells, involves applicants who never found out they had indigenous ancestry until after the Sept. 22, 2011 deadline imposed by the enrolment process. The scenario being challenged in the group that includes Sandra Wells, who is of no relation to David Wells, involves people who knew of their ancestry but were having trouble proving it before Sept. 22, 2011.
The assembly is also trying to raise money to pay for its legal battles. A social media funding effort to raise $10,000 has raised a little more than $2,000 so far.
In the meantime, there is talk of another court action being launched. The Facebook group Friends of Qalipu Applicants has posted that it has a legal opinion supporting pursuing litigation against the enrolment process, including seeking an injunction to have it halted until the legal challenges have been sorted out.