New agreement will bring veterans, RCMP officers into Qalipu fold

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A new agreement between the federal government and the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation will allow for the reconsideration of applications for active servicepeople for full status as members of the Mi’kmaq nation, the federal government announced Monday.

“I am pleased that the government of Canada is now moving forward to reassess military personnel, RCMP and veterans of these groups for founding membership in Qalipu First Nation,” said Qalipu Mi’kmaq Chief and president of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians Brendan Mitchell. “Our protectors and veterans deserve this consideration. This announcement is a positive outcome from exploratory discussions between the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the government.”

The agreement will allow those members with applications already on file with proof of service prior to September 22, 2011 -- the date of the nation’s formation – will meet acceptance criteria on an honourary basis. Those applying for membership must still meet remaining assessment requirements as ancestry and self-identification to gain full, founding membership.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he was glad to be able to make this announcement considering the service records of those involved.

“Indigenous Services Canada recognizes and deeply values the meaningful contributions of Indigenous veterans to the development of Canada and honours the sacrifices they have made in the defence of freedom and the pursuit of world peace,” he said, adding that it was an important step for those applying for membership

“I am pleased to announce that we are ready to move forward with a new agreement for those individuals who were denied founding membership in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation,” Miller continued.

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation is a landless band and was officially formed on September 22, 2011. The Enrolment Committee (comprised of equal representation from Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians) continued to review applications, consistent with the terms of the 2008 agreement. By November 30, 2012, 101,000 applications had been received.

All applicants were required to meet four criteria to become founding members: self-identification, group acceptance, being of Canadian Indian ancestry and connection to a pre-Confederation Mi’kmaq community on the island of Newfoundland.

Long Range Mountains MP Gudie Hutchings said she was also glad to see the government reach an agreement with the nation.

“I am pleased that all parties have been able to reach a draft agreement to proceed in good faith. This is an important step forward for those who did not reside in one of the Mi’kmaq communities because they were bravely serving Canada.”

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase

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