Official status for Qalipu Mi’kmaq

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Brendan Sheppard, interim Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band chief, said he was pleased with Monday’s announcement by the federal government granting the band standing. — Transcontinental Media file photo

More than 20,000 people within Newfoundland and Labrador have been recognized by the Canadian government with standing under the Indian Act. They are members of the Qalipu (pronounced Hal-lay-boo) Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.

The announcement was made Monday morning, by way of a joint news release from federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Penashue and interim Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Chief Brendan Sheppard.

“The creation of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band is an important step forward for the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland,” Duncan stated.

“I congratulate the efforts of all members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band,” Penashue added. “Today marks a historic occasion for the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland, one which will not be forgotten.”

The federal government had reached an agreement in principle for granting status on June 23, 2008. Sheppard said his people have worked hard since that time to solidify membership and make official status a reality, by way of an Order in Council.

“If there was any opportunity, if I felt any lighter, I could walk on water. I’m very, very pleased, very happy and excited about the entire announcement. Very much so,” he told The Telegram.

Sheppard acknowledged the financial benefits, yet said he feels recognition of the band’s unique heritage, culture and tradition will mean more.

“We’ve had a lot of our elders actually pass on and the one thing I’ve heard many of them mention to me, in sessions that we used to have, that ‘I’d be quite satisfied if I know that our ancestry, our Mi’kmaq ancestry has been recognized by Canada.’ Similar, or on par with, other aboriginal people in this country,” he said. “That’s still a big thing with many people.”

Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band members are scattered across the island, with some tighter pockets in western and central Newfoundland. Only individuals who have submitted an application for membership — one reviewed and accepted by an enrolment committee — are counted as band members.

Membership stands at 21,429 people. However, the registration process is set to continue until Nov. 30, 2012. “It is anticipated that the final membership numbers could result in the new band being the largest aboriginal band in Canada,” according to a statement released Monday by band leaders.

“The number of people applying for registration certainly has indicated far more than was anticipated by the organization,” Sheppard said.

“That’s an indication that people, not only for benefits, but see a real opportunity, a realistic opportunity, for registration as an aboriginal person in Canada.”

There is no land set aside by government for a band reserve. The Qalipu Mi’kmaq will continue to pay federal and provincial taxes. Band members have also given up any ability to make a personal claim against the Canadian government for any past failure to provide benefits comparable to those with standing under the Indian Act.

However, they are now eligible for: post-secondary student support, band support funding (for administration) and employee benefits, non-insured health benefits, business development assistance, aboriginal youth programming, reduced travel rates (a 33 per cent discount with VIA Rail in Western Canada), home renovation assistance (under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program) and any future programs from the Canadian government.

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq, whose name comes from the Mi’kmaq word for caribou, will have offices in St. Georges, Grand Falls-Windsor, Glenwood and Corner Brook.

Sheppard said he does not see any major issues left on the table for the band at this point and he is looking forward to developing a stronger relationship with the provincial and federal governments.

A special event is being planned to celebrate the band’s new standing. The event will be by invitation only, likely in October, Sheppard said.

Organizations: VIA Rail, Canada Mortgage and Housing

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Western Glenwood

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Recent comments

  • garfield
    October 27, 2013 - 08:11

    Reason why no one admitted to be an Indian back then is they were scared of what the priests etc.would do to them.Growing -up back then the catholic priests ran small communities.

  • Bonnie
    March 19, 2013 - 06:30

    I have applied for my Indian status, and yes for all the right reasons, I am graduating in June and I paid for my education. Just because money is a motivator in your world does not make it so in mine. You are right most of us did not admit to being Indian, and the comments here explains why. Who wants to put themselves up for ridicule. As I have matured I have found, I care less what others may think of me I am what I am, and I am proud to say I can from a strong and proud people. I am Mi"kmaq. I hear so much resentment from people who aren't Indian and suggest they form their own band and call themselves the Wannabe Nation.

  • Ernest C S
    December 26, 2012 - 10:14

    This whole bit about 'discovering our roots' is a total joke, years ago no one ever acknowledged they were native and would be up in arms if called one, now once they discover they can get money and benefits from the feds suddenly we're all sticking feathers in our hair and telling everyone how excited we are to get back in touch with our heritage, if you were in such a hurry to learn of your heritage and language, you would have done it years ago, now I'm not saying everyone who joins this band is in it for the benefits, but 95% of them are, anyone who disagrees with me needs to really wake up and smell the coffee, take away the benefits and see how many people join then.

    • Laura
      January 12, 2013 - 10:17

      It's such a shame here are so many haters out there. Why? Wouldn't everyone apply for status if they are of status. It's not about what you'll get but about who you are!!!!!!!!!!!

  • paul
    August 13, 2012 - 12:27

    this is total shit. you have to have the money to pay for your education and then they reimburse you. whats the point of that? I can't afford to go to school so I tried to get funding. But I can't get funding unless I can't afford to go to school!

  • Robert Clarke
    June 24, 2012 - 19:32

    I need to register. This could be a break I really need

  • peggy
    April 05, 2012 - 18:04

    i feel i am related to mattie mitchell if anyone can help me i dont know how to prove the connection my grandfather waswilliam george mitchell and his father was henry james mitchell ...can someone help me

  • Ernest
    April 03, 2012 - 19:27

    I moved away from NL at 19 years of age. I've worked since even high school to have access to life's things than all people should, job, respect, luxuries. I've paid my way at every step since leaving and have asked for no hand outs. I have obtained a Red seal endorsement as an Automive Service Technician have paid for over $20,000 in personal tools and for pre-employment for one year at community colledge. I've earned it! But if for the rest of my life, I could keep the federal tax moneys that the government redily throws away for no good reason and keep it towards my retirement, so be it. I have listened to the ignorant and hurtfull racist comments in all the five provinces that I have worked and one thing remains unchanged...the comments always come from white racists. Most of whom have no idea of their own family's ancestry but have a lifetime of dispersions to cast on to those who have been wronged. I once read the book "The Dispossest", not sure of the spelling but it was a great eye opener! Cheers

  • Terry Snook
    February 29, 2012 - 17:47

    I just found out a couple of weeks ago that my grandmother Lillian Cormier might have been Native. I am trying to find out hers and my ancestry. I know that she came from up around St Georges. Her parents names were Edward Cormier and Mary MacDonald. Edwards mothers name was Rosalee Madore and Marys father was Thomas MacDonald and her mother was Ann Willcott. If there is anyone that can give me any more information it would certianly be appreciated. Thank you

  • M. Cooper
    February 26, 2012 - 12:02

    Ok. So what if it is about the benifits too? I smiled when I read that person after person wrote," I am not doing it for the benifit". Proud newfoundlanders we are....sometimes too proud to accept help. The purpose of these benifits are to better our people. Not everyone has the privilage to go to university and pay it off. If you catch yourself making comments that are negative regarding the aboriginal population remind yourself that you do not fully understand the history. If you researched one of these aboriginal cultures you would know that they continue to suffer collectively as there is a deep history (hundreds of years) of pain that we still feel. Can you imagine what it must feel like to hide who you truely are? Can you imagine that although some are stepping up and appying for their Indian Status they continue to feel shame for themselves and their people? It will take many generations to heal the hearts of aboriginals. I have a better world view as I am educated with understanding the aborigianls accross Canada and different parts of the world. If we do not make a stand and say "I am proud to be Aboriginal" and proud to say that "yes, I do recieve benifits" then how do we teach our children and future generations to feel that pride in who we are. There is nothing being taken from the government that is not already ours. After all, since when would the government be giving these benifits for plain ole kindness? Hardly think so. And Janice, It may seem that everyone is bashing you and not speaking kindly, that is not the Indian way...just love and be loved. We are all one. If you judge others, you judge yourself.

  • Herbert Dingwell
    January 10, 2012 - 11:17

    I would like to know how to receive an application for this news item. My mother's name was Crocker and we believe that she had this status. Could someone please let me know the steps to tale. I presently live in London Ontario but my brother Bernard still lives in Corner Brook, Thank you H. DIngwell

  • Irene Fancey
    October 24, 2011 - 14:25

    I for one am very proud to be called native. I,ve watched our people struggle for years to be counted for. So to know your heritage and what it stands for is really something. I hope that my children will have the chance to learn more about being native than my generation did. we weren,t taught anything about our native culture or the language, so I hope my children and grandchildren get this opportunity. Be proud and stand tall

    • Stephen Brake
      November 17, 2011 - 14:00

      I just have a comment about the application process. We of aboriginal ancestry should come together as one however this was not the case with my family. We did not submit a family application as everyone went their own way and in some cases it was kept a secret. I have eleven brothers and sisters and we could have united for this monumental leap forward for our people. I am currently away on duty and know for a fact that I follow the traditions and customs more than anyone in my family. I make at least five trips to NL a year to fish hunt and enjoy the surroundings. This is not a slam but just a heads up for other families to put aside their differences and appreciate what has been given back.

  • dan
    October 22, 2011 - 21:46

    I too found out about my ancestory only after my grandparents and parents passed. There was no family mention of aboiginal relations .But today thanks to other family members i too have been accepted . I have worked hard for the last 40 years and have two daughters and three grandchildrem .We have paid for all their education and support our kids even today in any way we can .i do not get any support from this and can support myself because i worked hard and saved for our retirement.I only applied so that i can be accepted for want i am .A aboriginal indian .

    • Jennifer
      November 02, 2011 - 20:16

      I also applied for this reason, to be accepted as, and to accept myself as, an aboriginal person.

  • Laura
    October 21, 2011 - 17:38

    I grew up in a community where there were many Mi'kmaq people who refused to acknowldge their heritage and would protest strongly that they weren't Mi'kmaq. Now, suddenly, those same people are very openly loud and proud to be recongized as part of the Qalipu Band. Acknowledging your heritage should never be able benefit but prideinf knowing who you are.

  • JM
    October 20, 2011 - 17:31

    Although I have not received my letter yet, I understand that my application was approved as a founding member with the rest of my family. I can assure you that I did not apply for any benefits. My cousins and I have all completed university and paid for it ourselves. Most of us already have free health care through our work. We are all in professional careers and do not need any of the programs. We applied to be acknowledged as an aboriginal in Canada. Our Indian ancestry used to be something that we hide - "the family secret". Now we want to celebrate our culture and learn more about it.

  • JM
    October 20, 2011 - 17:28

    Although I have not received my letter yet, I understand that my application was approved as a founding member with the rest of my family. I can assure you that I did not apply for any benefits. My cousins and I have all completed university and paid for it ourselves. Most of us already have free health care through our work. We are all in professional careers and do not need any of the programs. We applied to be acknowledged as an aboriginal in Canada. Our Indian ancestry used to be something that we hide - "the family secret". Now we want to celebrate our culture and learn more about it.

  • Dennis Garey Gabriiel
    October 16, 2011 - 15:23

    I am a great grandson of Andrew Gabriel of Grand River within the beautiful Codroy Valley. You may know of him? He is the trusted guide who received a Gold watch from one of his customers and also he also delivered mail throughout the west coast of NL. His eldest son, Michael Daniel Gabriel came to Canada shortly before WW1 and he married a native woman, Freda. There eldest son, Cornelius Alfred Gabriel is my Father. Like his siblings, he attempted to continue to maintain "the family secret" but, not long before he died, Dad would look in the mirror and say: "I sure do look Native" and chuckle! Dad lost his eye sight a few years before then. I"m extremely pleased to be recognized as a founding member of the "Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band" and, it is my deepest desire that I will honor my ancestory with pride. Thank you to all those who have work so diligently to make the journey real, especially to my good friend, Ben White, who is one on my people! Dennis Garey Gabriel

    • Paul Pike
      August 23, 2016 - 13:38

      Hi Dennis we, are cousins. I am also a descendent, through Louis , child of Andrew. I share your pride.

  • Carla
    October 09, 2011 - 09:18

    I am registered as well, but I have already paid off my $52,000 student loans all by myself. Not everybody is looking for a free ride.

  • MamaSue
    October 06, 2011 - 16:24

    I am also one of the founding members of the band and I can honestly say that as a single mother with 3 children, who works full time, and has absolutely no support, the health benefits will undoubtedly come in handy. However, the fundamental reason for my registration was not to solely obtain these benefits, but to honour my ancestral heritage and hopefully gain a sense of inclusion and belonging for myself and my children. Feeling like a mishmash of Newfoundland/Canadian traditions and cultures can be sometimes very confusing and frustrating, especially when we view others who have such strong traditions etc.. I highly doubt that most people who need the help would turn it down, but in the same breath, not everyone is out for a buck. I'm proud to be recognized finally for who I really am!!

  • Denise
    October 05, 2011 - 10:22

    This is a very controversial topic and I'm hoping it does not divide the people of Newfoundland. I am one of the 20,000+ founding members of the Qalipu band. I have always been proud to have aboriginal roots, although I don't feel special privileges or rights should have been granted now that we are considered status. That said, I also feel that individuals who are capable of working should not receive welfare assistance, that new immigrants to Canada should not receive OAS benefits, that adoptive mothers should receive the same parental leave as birth mothers, etc. I just hope that the people of Newfoundland don't blame each other for this. While trying to create equality, the government of Canada is actually creating a system of inequality.

  • Kirby
    September 29, 2011 - 17:24

    The question is when do I get my Free Stuff?

  • jackie crocker
    September 28, 2011 - 05:45

    i am regristered and not receiving any benifits .i have a big interest in my ancestory,and is proud of who i am.

  • Alicia
    September 27, 2011 - 19:52

    I believe all of those who applied for status with Qalipu Band were provided with the information of what status would apply. Therefore those who went through with the process were informed that there was no money, but benefits and recognition as an Aboriginal person - which for many people is actually important and means something. It's a pretty loaded question and heavy assumption however I do acknowledge there are greedy people in the world.

  • Janice
    September 27, 2011 - 14:45

    Here we go again....I have to pay full student loans for my kids to go to university and these clowns get theirs free. And most of them are whiter than me. Just one big joke, that's all it is.

    • Krista
      September 28, 2011 - 15:46

      Janice, Alot of the people who applied for this and are eligable for this had to pay for their kids too, as it is there are no funding for schools until january. This means alot to some people and they respect it. I don't think it's right for you to call it a joke, and refer to the color of their skin. it goes back to their ancestors not them. Congratulations to everyone!

    • John
      September 28, 2011 - 21:33

      What a great country we live in when people are free to posted comments with racial over tones. Well Janice, I hope your kids going to university do not LOOK gay or different in some way so other people stero type them like you have in your comments! Maybe you should check your family heritage after all you don't sound let's say WHITE. Give your head a shake"

    • Chris
      September 30, 2011 - 03:20

      Janice, bigotry will get you no where. Obviously going to university hasn't made you grow as a person but, rather, filled you with hatred. I feel sorry for people who feel as you do. Ignorance is bliss, isn't it Janice?

    • Randolph
      October 10, 2011 - 15:14

      Janice, My grandfather, an aboriginal member of the Qalipu Nation, left White Bay when he was just thirteen years old. He worked his way through numerous odd jobs until he made enough to attend college. He had four children, who all went on to professional careers. A nurse, an accountant, a university dean and a minister. Every one of his eleven grandchildren received university degrees, four nursing degrees, two education degrees, two business degrees, one law degree, one geology degree, and one computer science degree, with many of those going on to pursue education at the masters level. My grandfather felt that the pen is much mightier than the "tomahawk", so to speak. None of us received a penny from the Federal Government for our education, unless it was for an academic scholarship. We did not need to. In order to live with racist people like you my Grandfather felt that we had to rise above it. We are not the lazy, drunk, dirty, "indians" people like you will refer to us as. We are a proud nation, now about 21,000 strong, mostly educated and moderately wealthy. Now that fact ought to raise your level of insecurty even higher than it already is.

    • Vicki
      November 02, 2011 - 09:44

      My parents, myself, and my siblings are some of these 'clowns' you speak of and to show just how ignorant people make uninformed comments, myself and my siblings have paid for our own education. Stop being mad at the world, stop begrudging others good fortune and count some of your own blessings. The education for some of these people may get paid for but they still have to do the work to achieve what they want. Take Care.

    • Corrina
      November 10, 2011 - 12:46

      Janice I think you should check your ignorance. Not all of us who applied for status did it for the benefits. Most of us were glad to trace our ancestory and to find out things about our families that we never knew. You had to pay for your kids university fees. Well I also paid for mine. Boo Hoo. You shouldn't think about your child's university degree as an expense but more as providing them with a better future. I am proud to say I know more about my heritage now which is all I wanted. I am employed, I paid for my own education, and I have medical benefits. Oh and lets not forget that I also pay taxes. So I don't understand why this is so offensive to you. Not everything is about money.

    • Crazy Horse
      November 20, 2011 - 12:22

      Janice, Just last night I told my brother he was a hypocrite for joining the band, he moved as far away from NL as he could and insisted he would never return. He does not acknowledged our poor deceased father as his however he had no problem using the documentation to complete the application. I have not applied as i felt I didn't meet the prerequisites. No offense to the name however that's what he called me in his anger. for those of you who follow the traditions and ways of our people, good luck.

  • Dave
    September 27, 2011 - 09:39

    Kevin....kudos to your wife. I suspect she is one of the few. I still don't believe you though!

  • Dave
    September 27, 2011 - 07:33

    I wonder if all those that did apply would have applied if only to get status and no money? Silly question...I know.

    • Kevin
      September 27, 2011 - 08:35

      DAVE - I understand your point. However, my wife is a registered and will not receive any benefits, nor does she want them. She is actually very happy to be recognized as an aboriginal person and is currently learning more about her ancestry (she only found out she was aboriginal a few years ago). So let's not assume the worst of everyone.