The chief of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq is pleading with potential members to be patient as tens of thousands of applications are evaluated.

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Brendan Sheppard, seen in this file image, is scheduled to meet with federal officials later this week about Qalipu membership. (CBC )

Brendan Sheppard took questions Tuesday night from a crowd of about 200 people who attended a public forum in Corner Brook.

An estimated 70,000 applications for membership in Qalipu, a landless band that represents Mi'kmaq from across the province, are in limbo while the band tries to work out a new deal with the federal government.

"They went to Treasury Board for funding to support about 20,000 people — max," Sheppard said.

"Of course you know, a year later, we're talking [membership of] a hundred thousand people," he said.

About half of the people in the room raised their hands when a participant asked how many were awaiting a decision on membership.

Sheppard said he understands that people are frustrated, but there's little the band can do.

"I can't make any commitment to anybody as to what, you know, is going to be the end result, and I'm tired of saying that," he said.

Sheppard is scheduled to meet with officials at the Aboriginal Affairs department on Thursday.