Canada’s first nation is the collective name of more than 40 indigenous tribes, who enjoy special benefits with Indian identity cards. For indigenous peoples who have intermarried with other races and moved out of reserves, their status is somewhat blurred. In recent years, this problem has been most prominent in Newfoundland, where a new indigenous tribe had been founded 10 years ago. In order to obtain an ID card through application and review procedures, it was necessary.
The indigenous people of Newfoundland belonged to the Qalipu Mi’kmaq tribe. Chariboo means “reindeer” in the native Aboriginal language. The Miekmak group was founded in 2011 and has undergone a long period of struggle.
Newfoundland was the last province to join the Commonwealth of Canada in 1949. According to the “Indian Law”, Mikmalk is a “no tribal” ethnic group and cannot be considered an aborigine.
In 1972, a group of Mikmarkers from Newfoundland established the Newfoundland Federation of Indians (FNI). The organization began to try to change the provisions of the “Indian Act” to obtain aboriginal status, but in the end there was no result. It was only after he passed a judicial action in 1989 that he won the opportunity to negotiate with the federal government. After about 20 years of intermittent negotiations, the agreement was approved in 2008 and officially recognized.
The agreement agreed to create a registration process and a committee to oversee and approve the list of members of the group. At that time, it was estimated that the number of applicants would not exceed 10,000. But then there were 104,000 people from across the country who applied for membership in the Mickmark group. If approved, it will be Canada’s largest indigenous group. This greatly exceeds the original expectation, so the committee has to develop some criteria for the assessment, and in the form of scoring to judge who can be regarded as Miqmark aborigines.
These consideration criteria and scores are:
1. Regular visits to the Mikmark region of Newfoundland (4 points);
2. Frequent contact with members of the Mickmark group in Newfoundland (2 points);
3. Live in Newfoundland (3 points);
4. Is the first member to set up the Mikmack group (9 points);
5. Preserving Mikmalk Culture and Lifestyle (9 points)
Article 5 has been the most controversial. It requires applicants to prove their knowledge of Mikmark’s culture and participate in ethnic culture, religious rituals and traditional activities.
According to these five measures, a score of 13 can be considered as a criterion.
The federal government established a review committee for this purpose. Half of its members are Indian representatives. However, many criticisms have been drawn from the very beginning. Some critics have said that the approval process has been delayed for too long. More criticism is that the criteria are not uniform, and the culture of the Mikma Marchi clan is not understood.
Even the first batch of 23,000 applicants who claimed to be “founding members” were not approved at first.
One of them, Calvin White’s elders, was a well-known local elder and one of the initiators of the creation of this ethnic group. It was not approved at first, but it was later accepted. What he did not understand most was that three of his six children were accepted and the other three were rejected. White said that two of the children who had been rejected were studying in Newfoundland and only left Newfoundland when they grew up. Their geographical distance from home influences their birth status. White says there are hundreds of families in this situation. Even a family of twins grew up in Newfoundland, but one was approved as an Aboriginal and one was not approved.
Dave Baldwin, 65, has lived in the village of Corner Brook and has not been approved as an Aboriginal. He said: “My brothers, sisters and cousins have been qualified, but they have rejected me. It is too far-fetched to say that I have not participated in related cultural activities. I have been living in Indian natives for the rest of my life. Life style live. I don’t need a card to prove who I am.”
Brendan Mitchell, the chief of the indigenous people of Chalibu, has been the leader of the ethnic group since 2015. He is very aware of Baldwin’s concerns. He said: “I really don’t know how they can get more than 13 points. These people have always lived in the indigenous community.” He said: “Since the agreement was reached, the whole thing has become worse and worse. We don’t need people in the government to use documents and figures to prove the identity of our indigenous people and the legitimacy of their lives.”