MP cries foul at Bill aimed to rejig Qalipu Mi’kmaq band

James McLeod
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Liberal MP Gerry Byrne is crying foul, saying that the federal government is moving to pull the rug out from under tens of thousands of people seeking First Nations status as members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq band.

And Byrne should know; he’s one of the people seeking status as a member of the band.

This week, the federal Conservatives introduced a bill that explicitly says that the federal cabinet can remove names from the list of members of the Mi’kmaq band. It also says that the federal government cannot be sued if it removes somebody from the list.

Byrne said he believes that the federal government is setting itself up to revoke the membership claims of many, many applicants.

More than 100,000 people have applied to be members of the band, and Byrne said that “absolutely” the criteria for membership were extremely broad.

“Members can be enrolled without regard to any blood quantum. In other words, you can be 15 generations away from any Canadian aboriginal ancestor and still be eligible. That was specifically contemplated and accepted by the federal government and the federation of indians in the Mi’kmaq community,” he said.

“You do not actually have to be Mi’kmaq Indian to be a member of this band, which is explicitly spelled out in the enrolment criteria. You can be an Indian of any Canadian aboriginal descent.”

Based on that criteria, Byrne says he applied for membership.

“My ancestry intersects the Mi’kmaq community in five different locations,” he said.

“I’m not going to debate this. I’m not going to go into an extensive debate proving my own validity. I’m applying under an existing set of rules that were established by the band, by the Mi’kmaq community.”

But if the federal government starts revoking Indian status from applicants, Byrne said that’s tantamount to going back on a deal that was negotiated between Ottawa and members of the Newfoundland Federation of Indians.

Byrne equated it to the Upper Churchill agreement, saying that a deal is a deal and you can’t go back on it.

The Telegram tried to speak to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, but he would not do an interview.

A spokeswoman sent a statement saying that Bill C-25 will “protect the integrity and credibility of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

It will also ensure that only those with a legitimate claim to membership are registered following the completion of the enrolment process.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Conservatives, Newfoundland Federation of Indians.Byrne

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    April 08, 2014 - 06:39

    Wow, only in Newfoundland could this happen. A native people that should have been recognized in 1949. Now finally getting their rightful status in Canada only to have the rules change because there are just too many. Wow, a native people that have no claim to land, will loose their status because they moved off the island in search of employment for their families. may loose their status because they could not or chose not to attend a pow wow. May loose their status because they have no copies of phone bills showing they communicate with the Mi'kmaq community. This is so ridiculous it is just un believable. Sheppard You are no chief my friend . To agreed to this pile of garbage just so the chosen few could get more money for programs is a disgrace. No other native people anywhere has this happened too. Using this kind of criteria to determine ones status, wow and you and the Feds just might pull this off. I know Newfoundland is rich in oil and that is the main reason they were never given land but to betray a people that have 400 years of history in this way, that is just plain corruption. Every native Canadian everywhere should be screaming mad at what is going on here. All these bums that took parts is this scam should be exposed. Also have you noticed how difficult it is to type these verification text below, that is so no one can express their's a scam

  • Richard
    March 24, 2014 - 19:46

    James, I find your comments completely asinine and prejudiced with absolutely no foundation except to try to put the Native people of NL down. Your uneducated comments are a sad reflection of uneducated people that get on here and make totally ridiculous comments. Sell your trailer and go back to school!

  • Sparkle
    March 03, 2014 - 20:53

    The lack of comments from band member or anyone else affiliated with the band shows how little they care about comments from uneducated people. The question of status could have been solved quite easily years ago, when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. For almost 70 years, the mi'kmaq have gone without recognition, gone without the services that are provided to other aboriginals in Canada without question. By signing the agreement, the Mi'kmaq people are not asking for compensation for all of the years that they should have had programs and services put in place, just the same as other Aboriginals from all over Canada. Taxpayers are worried about money coming out of their pocket, but tell me, what about the 400,000 Metis that were just recognized last year? Oh I guess more money out of your pocket. What about the programs and services put in place for other cultures coming to begin a life in Canada? That is taxpayer's money too. Canada got a fantastic deal from the Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland, as the Mi'kmaq were not even allowed to get a reserve. Do you know why? It is because all of the Western side is full of oil. Too expensive to take out of the ground today, but like Calgary and the oil sands years ago, as the price of oil goes up and technology improves, the government and companies will be able to extract the oil from the Western side of the island and not have to worry about the natives protesting against it. Before people make such silly comments as the ones here, and make yourself look stupid to the educated, I suggest that you get a book or look online and find out what a raw deal that the Mi'kmaq are getting with this deal anyways. If you are not interested in paying your taxes to the aboriginals whose land you took, then I suggest that you go back to your own country to live. Wait a minute, you probably cannot go back as many of your ancestors that came to Newfoundland in the first place were the rejects, the criminals and such. Your mother country probably would not let you or your ancestors in.

  • James
    March 01, 2014 - 09:30

    In other words, Gerry Byrne is "entitled to his entitlements". This is just greed - pure and simple. No matter to him and his ilk that others much less fortunate than them, including the working poor, will have to dig deeper tax-wise, or suffer a degradation of their own more important benefits over time - including health care and education, to pay for his and his descendents entitlements forever after. No question the federal government made a huge mistake in accepting the Qalipu Mi’kmaq band's ridiculous definition of first nation status. But I am sure they had no idea that everybody and their dog was going to apply. Our family could have applied and qualified too, but our sense of fair-play would not allow it. Now let the government fix the mess and move on.

  • Jim
    February 28, 2014 - 22:26

    I have no vested interest in this issue but the scariest part of this is if the government gets away with this what stunt are they going to pull next? What agreement are they going to weasel out of next time? How many of our rights are they going to legislate away?

    • James
      March 01, 2014 - 10:07

      If you'd stop trying to score cheap political points for a second, you might wonder where all the money to pay for this is going to come from. Answer: you, your children and grandchildren and on an on. The major problem in society today is everyone trying to grab as much as possible for themselves and to hell with everyone else. That includes politicians, senators, union leaders, business people and those people who in their hearts know they have no legitimate claim to First Nation status and claim anyway.