As the enrolment committee set up to review applications to the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band gets into scrutinizing applications, Ron Penney said it is doing so without a magic number in mind.
“There’s not been any kind of quota,” Penney, chairman of the enrolment committee, said Monday from St. John’s. “So the number is what the number is. The whole objective is to provide status to applicants who have a legitimate connection to the community.”
Monday was the final day about 96,000 applicants had to submit additional information in hopes of convincing the enrolment committee of that legitimate connection.
Penney said “thousands” of additional packages had been submitted and he expects a lot more to be received over the next few days as they make their way, postmarked on or before Monday, through the mail to Winnipeg.
Once in Winnipeg, the additional information will be scanned and added to the original application packages. Those electronic files will then be available to all committee members for review.
“They’re trying to make it as practical as possible,” said Penney, whose committee includes two members from the band and two from the federal government. They meet for a week every month in Winnipeg.
“We have to approve every application, but some are quite clear cut one way or the other.”
For the ones that aren’t so clear, the committee will look at each one in detail, Penney said.
Right now they are dealing with applications from people who are either a resident of or live within 20 kilometres of a recognized Mi’kmaq community.
“So if you’re a resident and you have your status, then that’s it,” he said, noting about 16,000 to 17,000 people will fall into this category.
He expects the review of those applications will be completed by the end of March and then the committee will move on to the other 80,000 applications. In reviewing those, the committee will be looking for people to provide information on self-identification, Penney said.
“Were they a member of a previous band or have they identified themselves in some other way?”
Then they’ll look at the issue of community acceptance.
“They have to show evidence that they’ve been engaged in the cultural life of the Mi’kmaq.”
Penney said it’s all being done on a point system and if an applicant accumulates the necessary 13 points and meets the ancestry requirement, they are approved as a member of the band.
The committee has until August 2015 to complete its review.
After that, applicants will be informed of the outcome.
Unsuccessful applicants will have one more opportunity to be accepted through an appeal process. The appeal process is to run until the end of March 2016. Following that process, successful applicants will see their names added to the band’s founders list.
The Western Star