November 15, 2018 — Ottawa, ON — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Canada remains committed to renewing the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
Today, Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains and Yvonne Jones, Member of Parliament for Labrador, on behalf of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, along with Brendan Mitchell, President of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) announced the next steps in the implementation of the Wells/Wells decision.
Canada and the FNI will be moving forward with reassessing approximately 58,000 individuals who were denied Founding Membership in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. In addition, parties have committed to enter into exploratory discussions to address outstanding concerns regarding members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, RCMP and FNI members or members of other Mi’kmaq organizations who were named in the 2008 agreement and denied Founding Membership. Individuals affected by the exploratory discussions will be contacted once further information becomes available.
The review of the Enrolment Process is a result of the May 8, 2018 Federal Court decision on the David Wells and Sandra Wells case, which deemed the requirement for proof of self-identification to the Mi’kmaq community pre-dating 2008 to be unreasonable and unenforceable. Therefore, these individuals will have the right to request reassessment of their application and to submit additional documentation for the self-identification criterion.
Individuals affected by the Wells decision will be contacted by mail in January 2019 with information on how to submit additional documents to have their application reassessed. Those who wish to have their applications reviewed will be asked to submit the form and documents with a postmark no later than 100 days after receipt of their letter.
Quick Facts on the Wells Decision
- On May 8, 2018, Federal Court released its decision in the David Wells and Sandra Wells case, stipulating that it was unreasonable to require applicants to provide proof of self-identification to the Mi’kmaq community pre-dating the 2008 Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq Band.
- This decision means that the approximate 58,000 individuals whose application for Founding Membership to the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation was denied based on the self-identification criterion of the Enrolment Process, now have the right to request reassessment of their application and to submit additional documentation.
- In January 2019 (TBD), the Government of Canada and Federation of Newfoundland Indians will notify the 58,000 applicants eligible for re-assessment as a result of the Wells decision on next steps for the reassessment of their application.
- Those affected should ensure their mailing address is up to date by contacting the Qalipu toll-free telephone line (1-800-561-2266). Individuals whose mailing address has not changed since their initial application are not required to provide updated information.
- Additional information on the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Enrolment Process and the process through which the Wells decision will be implemented can be found online.
Quick Facts on the Exploratory Discussions
- In the signature of the 2008 and 2013 Agreements and the Indemnity Agreement, the Government of Canada, the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, and the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation all agreed to the eligibility criteria individuals were required to meet in order to register under the Band.
- In accordance with the 2008 and 2013 Agreements, and with the Enrolment and Appeals Processes, no exemptions or exceptions were granted to Veterans or members of other distinctive groups. However, Canada has heard the concerns regarding Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, veterans, as well as members of FNI, who believe their applications were unfairly denied and will be entering into discussions with the FNI on this matter.
- The Government of Canada recognizes and deeply values the meaningful contributions of Indigenous Veterans, RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces and other members of the military, to the development of our nation, and honours the sacrifices they have made in the defense of freedom and the pursuit of world peace.
“The creation of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation is an important step towards reconciliation and the recognition of Newfoundland’s Mi’kmaq People. Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians will continue to work in close collaboration throughout the implementation of the Federal Court’s decision, in the spirit of upholding the integrity of founding membership.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“I encourage all those who are eligible to submit additional documentation regarding the self-id criteria to do so. Letters will be mailed to impacted individuals in the near future so I encourage you to ensure that your mailing address is up-to-date. If you’ve moved or changed address, please contact 1-800-561-2266. Let’s all look out for one another by sharing this news among our communities.”
President of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians