Newfoundland and Labrador’s newest Indigenous band marked a milestone Wednesday, celebrating 10 years since Qalipu First Nation was established under the Indian Act.
Around 50 people gathered on Majestic Lawn outside the Qalipu main office yesterday, with more congregating at multiple locations on the central and west coast areas of Newfoundland, for feasts and festivities.
The regional chief with the Assembly of First Nations travelled from Nova Scotia to take part in the party in Corner Brook.
“It’s a milestone for this community. I’m just so glad to take in this event and the celebration,” said Paul Prosper.
“It’s a testament to the resolve and the commitment of the Qalipu Band and their membership. It represents a certain sense of pride of shared history a shared culture and a shared recognition of coming together and practicing these Mi’kmaq ways.”
Members celebrated with a barbecue and a big cake whereas additionally holding elections for new chief, vice-chief and council, with voting happening digitally and by phone later in October.
Marilyn Matthews set up a vendor booth at the Corner Brook celebration, selling her handmade jewelry to the crowd.
“My passion is with seed beading. That’s where I got started and I just love seed beading,” she said.
She uses bone from Indigenous vendors and creates necklaces, earrings and other jewelry to sell. Matthews started the art in 2012, when the Qalipu First Nation Band was just beginning. She was never a crafty person before, she said.
Today, Matthews and other vendors can showcase what they have learned.
“We get to embrace our culture. We get to have celebrations like this. And a lot of people who are not Indigenous love to partake in our culture and that’s very uplifting for us,” she said.
Whereas September 22, 2021 marks 10 years since the federal government established Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation, membership in the band has been a topic of contention for many.
Almost 24,000 persons were recognized as founding members, in 67 Newfoundland communities and overseas. Within some years of being created, over 100,000 persons had come forward claiming to be members.
The federal government reviewed membership claims, and many lost their status as well as related benefits.
Back in March this year, Ottawa paused talks to potentially include extra members.