Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band
In 1989, the FNI, representing approximately 7,800 members from the nine Mi'kmaq communities across Newfoundland, along with Chiefs of six affiliated groups, began a Federal Court Action seeking eligibility for registration under the Indian Act.
Official negotiations between the FNI and the Government of Canada for the creation of a Band with no reserve land took place between 2004 and 2006. In June 2008, the Agreement for Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band was signed by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (then the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs) and the President of the FNI. The Agreement principally identified the process for the creation of a Band (for the Mi'kmaq communities of Newfoundland) under the Indian Act and the enrolment of its Founding Members. By November 30, 2009, following the conclusion of the first stage of the enrolment process, approximately 26,000 membership applications had been received. By November 30, 2012, the number of applications for Band membership had grown to 100,558.
The significant increase in the number of applications, and the fact that all applications could not have been considered prior to the end of the enrolment process, led Canada and the FNI to agree to discuss next steps regarding the consideration of applicants and the appropriate implementation of the 2008 Agreement. On July 4, 2013, a Supplemental Agreement was announced that clarified the process for enrolment in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and resolved issues that emerged from the implementation of the 2008 Agreement. Specifically, the Supplemental Agreement:
- extended the timelines for review of the applications, ensuring all previously unprocessed applications can be reviewed;
- ensured that all applications received during all phases of the enrolment process, except those previously rejected, will be assessed or reassessed;
- provided that all those individuals whose applications would be assessed or reassessed are to be sent written notification and given an opportunity to provide additional documentation, if necessary;
- provided clarity regarding the assessment of an applicant's self-identification as a member of the Mi'kmaq Group of Indians of Newfoundland; and,
- provided guidance related to an individual's acceptance by the Mi'kmaq communities of Newfoundland, particularly as it relates to individuals not residing in the communities of the Mi'kmaq Group of Indians of Newfoundland.
All applications to become Founding Members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band are being processed by the WPU and the NPU, which include several entitlement officers physically located both in Winnipeg and Gatineau. Applications that were previously received by the FNI’s head offices in Corner Brook, Newfoundland were securely transported to the WPU, for scanning and subsequent processing to be conducted in two phases. Phase I, which is now complete, was designed to assess the validity of the applications. Phase II, which began in November 2013, was designed to assess the eligibility of the applicant to become a Founding Member based on the following three criteria: i) self-identification, ii) ancestry, and iii) group acceptance.
Phase II has been divided into two sub-phases: Phase II A and II B. Phase II A included the review of approximately 24,000 applicants that were originally accepted as Founding Members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and were granted Indian Status.
The Supplemental Agreement established an opportunity to provide additional documentation prior to the processing of their application, which was permitted between November 2013 and February 2014. During that time, the WPU received more than 1.5 million pieces of documentation. Prior to commencing the assessment of these applications (referred to as Phase II B), each piece of information was scanned by the WPU. Once the files are pre-analyzed by the WPU they are referred to the EC for review and rendering of decisions. The EC is comprised of two representatives appointed by the Government of Canada, two representatives appointed by the FNI and an independent Chair, jointly appointed by the Government of Canada and the FNI. As per the Supplemental Agreement, all enrolment applications are to be reviewed and a decision of their eligibility should be issued by August 31, 2015. Apart from the EC, another key stakeholder in the processing of applications is the IC, which oversees and coordinates the implementation of the agreement and advises the parties on issues relating to the establishment of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.