History of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation enrolment process
Learn how the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation was created.
1949 to 2012
When Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, Mi'kmaq communities were not recognized as First Nations under the Indian Act and their legal status, as well as the status of their members, was uncertain.
Discussions between the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) led, in 2008, to the Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq Band, and, in September 2011, an Order in Council established the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation as a "band" under the Indian Act.
The 2008 Agreement provided for an enrolment process to assess applications for founding membership in the band. Applications for founding membership in the First Nation were assessed by an Enrolment Committee, composed of an equal number of representatives from Canada and FNI, and a jointly appointed independent chair. The Enrolment Committee's role was to assess each application for membership in a fair and consistent manner.
Approximately 27,000 applications were received in the first stage of the enrolment process, which concluded on November 30, 2009. Of these, 23,877 applicants were found eligible and registered as Founding Members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation. From November 30, 2009 to September 22, 2011 (when the band was created), the number of applications rose sharply. By the application deadline of November 30, 2012, the total number of applications rose to approximately 104,000.
On July 4, 2013, the Government of Canada and the FNI announced a Supplemental Agreement that addressed the surge in applications, clarified the process for enrolment, and resolved issues that emerged from the implementation of the 2008 Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation.
Under the 2013 Agreement, it was determined that all applications, except for the approximately 3,000 already assessed and rejected, would be reviewed by August 31, 2015, followed by an appeal process which would end on March 31, 2016. The review would include the applications of all the individuals registered as Founding Members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, to ensure that all applicants met the criteria for eligibility set out in the 2008 Agreement and the 2013 Supplemental Agreement.
2014 to 2016
On April 2, 2015, Canada and the FNI announced that the enrolment process deadline was extended to June 30, 2016, and the appeal process deadline was extended to January 31, 2017. As well, the Enrolment Committee was expanded from four members to twelve.
Canada and the FNI agreed that the enrolment decisions of approximately 101,000 applications would be communicated at the same time. The Enrolment Committee conducted an initial review of the applications based on the validity criteria outlined in the 2008 Agreement and, in November 2013, sent letters to advise applicants of the status of their applications. Approximately 94,000 applicants were notified that their applications were deemed valid and roughly 6,500 applicants were notified that their applications were deemed invalid.
In December 2013, two applicants for enrolment in Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, Mr. Sterling Clyde Foster and Mr. Alex Howse, initiated proceedings against Canada and the FNI in the Federal Court of Canada over the Enrolment Committee's determination that their applications were invalid. One application was deemed invalid because of a missing signature; the other because it did not include a long-form birth certificate. The Federal Court agreed with the applicants, and found that they were not given notice of the missing information or an opportunity to correct their applications. For that reason, in September 2015, the court set aside the Enrolment Committee's decisions and ordered that both applications be evaluated for founding membership.
Canada and the FNI decided to apply the same reasoning to all applications that were deemed invalid consistent with the court decisions. As a result, in April 2016, approximately 6,500 individuals were given an opportunity to correct their applications, and submit additional material in support of their applications, for review by the Enrolment Committee. Of these, 16% of applicants sent additional information for consideration by the Enrolment Committee. The Enrolment Committee's deadline to review the applications was extended to no later than January 31, 2017, and the appeal process deadline was extended to September 30, 2017.
The Enrolment Committee has completed a diligent review of all 101,000 applications for founding membership in the band, as assessed against the 2008 Agreement and the 2013 Supplemental Agreement.
As a result, the Enrolment Committee sent letters of decision, on January 31, 2107, to each applicant with the results of its review. In some cases, the letters confirmed eligibility as Founding Members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation and Indian Status, while in other cases applicants were informed that they do not qualify as a Founding Member (to be completed in accordance with the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nations Act).
Some individuals who are deemed to no longer meet founding membership requirements may be eligible for registration under the Indian Act as being a child of a confirmed Founding Member. INAC is currently determining the number of these eligible individuals and options for a seamless transition.
Applicants who are eligible to appeal the Enrolment Committee's rejection of their applications will have until April 13, 2017 to initiate an appeal. All appeals will be concluded by September 30, 2017. The tabling of the Founding Members List to the First Nation will be issued no later than February 28, 2018 and changes to the Indian Registry will be made shortly afterwards in spring 2018. Access to programs and services related to Indian status will not change until after the Founding Members List is confirmed through an Order in Council.
Throughout the process, the Government of Canada and the FNI have been and continue to be committed to the integrity of the process for enrolment of Founding Members in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, in accordance with the 2008 Agreement and the 2013 Supplemental Agreement.
The creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation is an important step forward for the Mi'kmaq people of Newfoundland. As we continue to move ahead, the Government of Canada and the FNI look forward to maintaining a meaningful nation-to-nation relationship and ongoing dialogue.