These are some of the milestones on the road to recognition for our members, the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland.
No Mi’kmaq living on the island of Newfoundland are recognized as being eligible for registration under the federal Indian Act.
Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) forms (initially as the Native Association of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Its chief membership by late 1972: six affiliated Mi’kmaq bands on the island of Newfoundland:
- Benoits Cover First Nations (now named Elmastogoeg)
- Corner Brook Indian Band
- Flat Bay Indian Band
- Gander Bay Indian Band
- Glenwood Mi’kmaq First Nation
- Port au Port Indian Band
FNI’s primary goal: to obtain Government of Canada recognition of Mi’kmaq eligibility for registration under the Indian Act.
FNI’s mandate: To promote the social, cultural, economic, and educational well-being of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq.
1972–1982: Early successes
Province agrees to contribute to basic genealogical research of Mi’kmaq people on the Island.
Negotiations for recognition begin with the federal government.
Mi’kmaq of Conne River become eligible for registration under the Indian Act. Mi’kmaq outside Conne River are not eligible because the federal government recognizes only Mi’kmaq that are “resident in designated native communities.”
1983–1992: Decade of frustration
Conne River withdraws from the FNI and is recognized as a Band under the Indian Act. FNI continues to work towards eligibility of remaining members.
In support of their eligibility claims, FNI conducts genealogical studies.
Canada takes no action. FNI continues negotiations with Canada in attempts to redress the situation.
David Crombie, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), requests participation of Newfoundland government in tripartite negotiations on financial arrangements for FNI. Newfoundland governmentrejects Newfoundland participation in tripartite talks.
FNI and chiefs of six affiliated bands begin a Federal Court Action seeking eligibility for registration under the Indian Act (1989).
FNI membership expands – three new bands become affiliated:
- Exploits Indian Band (now Sple’tk First Nation)
- St. George’s Indian Band
- Stephenville/Stephenville Crossing Band (now Indian Head First Nations).
FNI applies to add new bands to list of Plaintiffs in court action.
1992–2002: Decade of on-and-off negotiations
The Department of Indian Affairs invites the FNI to discuss an agreement while placing its court case in abeyance (1999). FNI agrees.
No progress towards goal. Reactivation of the FNI court case (2001).
FNI presents Canada with the “2002 Mi’kmaq Regime” proposal.
FNI amends by-laws: each of the affiliated bands must accept minimum criteria for the admission of persons into its membership (2002).
2002: Exploratory discussions
Canada approaches FNI to engage in discussions to settle the court action. FNI agrees. Honorable Marc Lalonde appointed as the special representative to lead the discussions.
FNI and Canada hold consultation sessions with Mi’kmaq communities and FNI members. Consensus: FNI members want registered Status under the Indian Act.
FNI commitment to members: All members will be able to vote on any agreement reached with Canada.
During the exploratory discussions, Canada proposes that Newfoundland Mi’kmaq be registered under the Indian Act as a landless-band if they meet established membership eligibility criteria.
FNI consults its members: proceed with negotiations that include landless band component? Consensus – yes.
2003: Preliminary negotiations
The FNI agrees to place the court case into abeyance prior to the negotiation process.
The Honorable Marc Lalonde presents the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, the Honorable Andy Scott, with a report recommending proceeding to Cabinet seeking an Agreement-in-Principle to negotiate a landless band under the Indian Act for the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland.
2004–2006: Official negotiations
FNI and Canada agree to undertake official negotiations for terms of Agreement-in-Principle.
FNI establishes negotiation team. Abeyance of court case requires negotiations to be kept confidential. Negotiating team can consult with FNI its Steering Committee for the Agreement-in-Principal.
2006–2008: The Agreement-in-Principle
FNI represents 10,500 Newfoundland Mi’kmaq, and more than 10,000 members have band affiliation. Roughly 500 are General Members.
Tentative Agreement-in-Principle reached (2006):
- identifies process for recognition
- includes creation of landless band
- stipulates entire FNI membership can vote on ratification
Agreement-in-Principle is initialed (November 30, 2007) – an historic day for the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland.
In ratification vote, 90% of the FNI membership votes yes. FNI ratifies Agreement-in-Principle (March 30, 2008).
Canada ratifies Agreement-in-Principle (June, 2008).
2009 – First Stage of the Enrolment Process
November 30, 2009 marked the conclusion of the first stage of the enrolment process held under the Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band. As of November 30, 2009, close to 25,000 applications had been received and approximately 11,000 have been approved by the Enrolment Committee.
2011 – Federal Court Decision Clears the Way for Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Formation
On June 14th, 2011 the Federal Court of Canada rendered its decision on the motion seeking an injunction to delay the formation of the Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band. Paragraph 94 of the decision said “The motion is dismissed with costs to the other Plaintiffs and the Defendant.”
2011 – Order-In-Council provides legal basis for establishment of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band