Victor James Muise, a St. George’s Mi’kmaq elder, doesn’t like what he’s seeing on social media in what he calls, “Mi’kmaq people barking at each other.”
He was referring to some of the comments made by Chief Liz LaSaga of the Flat Bay Band Council (who is proposing their band leave Qalipu); and Brendan Mitchell, chief of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.
Muise said he respects both and how they work hard at representing their people, but this public spat is not good for anyone.
He said the enrolment process has not worked for the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland and across Canada, but people having a go at each other, especially online, is not the solution.
“When it comes down to it, our enemy is the federal government and the Indian Act,” Muise said.
He said what should happen is the leaders should sit down and talk directly to each other about these issues, and as a united voice bring what they have to the federal government.
Muise said that when the Federation of Newfoundland Indians was started, its aim was to bring the language and traditions back to its people and not to separate them.
He said the federation’s aim was to sit at the table and settle things through a board of directors and to have people live in peace and harmony. He said unfortunately there’s not much of that in the Mi’kmaq community now.
Muise said that’s because of the divide that’s being created by the enrolment process, with people being accepted and their brothers or sisters not.
He said he doesn’t like the fact that Qalipu is a landless band, and when he was on the Federation of Newfoundland Indians there was never any talk of that.
He said former prime minister Stephen Harper’s signing of a landless agreement with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band was a fundamental misunderstanding.
Muise said evidence from Mi’kmaq testimony in seeking treaties shows the Mi’kmaq people understood this agreement to be a matter of sharing, of friendship, of mutual respect, and not final and irrevocable sales and ultimate loss of ancestral territory.
Because that’s not what happened, this whole process of enrolment in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band is void, he said.
He said it now has to be looked at by the Mi’kmaq people and presented to the federal courts to clean up the mess Mi’kmaq people are in.