Chief Brendan Mitchell
Brendan was born in Corner Brook, NL where he continues to reside with his wife, Sheila LaSaga.
His first involvement in the aboriginal movement in Newfoundland dates to the early 1970’s when his father Jack Mitchell initiated information sessions and organized meetings for aboriginal people in the Corner Brook area. Jack Mitchell became the first elected chief of the Corner Brook Band Council as part of the Native Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. Brendan is the great – grandson of Mattie Mitchell, a well- known Newfoundland Mi’kmaq guide and prospector, who in 2002, was recognized by the Federal Government of Canada for his contribution to the province and was designated as a person of national historic significance.
Brendan has extensive work experience in the areas of project management, materials management, transportation and procurement management. He holds Bachelor of Science (Biology) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland. His organizational involvements are many having served on boards and committees locally, provincially and nationally.
As Qalipu Chief, he is committed to the ongoing development of Qalipu on behalf of our people and our communities. Particularly, key areas of focus include member access to culture, teachings and language initiatives, expanding membership services, strategic growth, program benefit sustainability, increased organizational self-sufficiency through direct business ownership and greater involvement with our communities. He will endeavor to improve governmental relations at municipal, provincial and federal levels. He will promote positive change in fostering a prosperous tomorrow for all.
He plans to work together with Council and staff at Qalipu in doing the right things right for the Qalipu Nation, putting our people and communities first and doing so with respect, honesty, integrity and true dedication.
Central Region Vice Chief Joe Bouzanne
Joe is serving his first term with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council. As Vice-Chief of the central region, Joe represents all members of the central Wards. Joe will also serve as chairperson of the Qalipu Finance Committee. This committee helps to ensure financial accountability of the organization and acts as liaison between the Qalipu Council and staff.
Joe is also a member of the Enrolment Implementation Committee, ensuring that the Enrolment agreement, as ratified by the membership, is upheld and enforced.
Joe was born in Stephenville Crossing and currently resides in Grand Falls-Windsor with his spouse, Vera. They have three children; John, Paul, and Michael and three grandchildren; Joey, Alessandra, and Daniel.
Joe graduated St. Michael’s High School in Grand Falls-Windsor before receiving a Bachelor of Commerce from St. Mary’s University, a Certificate in Public Administration, a Bachelor of Vocational Education from Memorial University, and a Master of Education from Mount St. Vincent University.
Joe retired as a Business Management Instructor, after thirty years of service, from the College of the North Atlantic. Throughout his career, he has also worked as a human resources consultant and business trainer.
Joe is a founding member and past-president of Human Resource Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador. He has extensive experience in Human Resources and is a certified trainer. He has served on various local, provincial, and national boards.
As a Qalipu Vice-Chief, he is committed to the ongoing development of Qalipu on behalf of current and future members with particular focus on membership, program benefits, strategic growth, sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Western Region Vice-Chief, Erica Samms Hurley
Erica is serving her first term on the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council. As the newly elected Vice Chief for the western region, Erica will represent members of the western region. She has also taken on the responsibility of chairing the Education Standing Committee. This committee meets regularly to hear about education policy change recommendations and in turn, make recommendations to Council. Erica will also serve on the Enrolment Implementation Committee.
A history of family involvement with the Mi’kmaq community led Erica to be involved in the aboriginal movement from an early age. Her grandfather, Wilson Samms, was the first Chief of the Benoit’s Cove Band Council. Samms, once the Chief of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and accepted by the Grand Council, was involved in the early years when the FNI was still fighting for aboriginal rights within the province. Her grandmother, Yvonne Samms, formed the Native Women’s Association.
Her family legacy also includes her great-grandmother, Mary Webb, a well-known Mi’kmaw woman recognized for her healing abilities and for assisting in the births of hundreds of children acting as a midwife on the west coast.
Erica graduated from Memorial University, where she completed her Bachelor of Nursing degree. Recently, she also graduated from Athabasca University with a Masters in Nursing. Erica has worked in many areas of health care, such as diabetes services, ER/ICU and surgery. Currently, she works as a Nurse Educator through Memorial University, Grenfell Campus.
It was during her time at university that Erica became very active in volunteering with various committees locally, provincially and nationally. She currently sits on the Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Advisory committee for Native Women’s Association related to the Canadian Institute for Health Research. She has been bestowed with various honors during her life such as the Governor Generals Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case and the Queen Jubliee Award. Her passion continues to centre on issues involving the health and equity of native women, and youth.
Erica grew up in Mount Moriah and continues to live in that community with her husband and two children.
Benoit’s Cove Ward Councilor, Bernard White
Bernard White is serving his second term as Ward Councilor for the Benoit’s Cove Ward. He serves on the Service Qalipu Standing Committee. This committee makes recommendations to the Qalipu Council based on community input, and acts as a liaison between that committee and the Qalipu Council.
Bernard White was born in Benoit’s Cove where he still lives with his wife, Leona MacDonald White. He came from a large family with five brothers and four sisters. Bernard has a son and four daughters himself, along with nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
He attended Bay St. George Community College and trained as a Heavy Equipment Operator. He also operated a private business with Leona for over 20 years. Bernard started the Injured Workers Association of Newfoundland.
Bernard was a Director with the Elmastogoeg First Nation Band and has been researching his and others genealogy for the last 25 years. He states, “I have learned a lot about our culture and its people. I hope to pass this knowledge down to our Mi’kmaq youth. I believe that by working together as a team we will bring prosperity to our Mi’kmaq communities.”
Corner Brook Ward Councilor, Brian Dicks
Brian Dicks is serving his first term as Qalipu Councilor for the Corner Brook Ward. In addition to representing members on Band Council, he also serves on the Qalipu Business Trust Standing Committee. This Committee is responsible for exploring business and partnership opportunities, and generating own source revenue that the Band can use to be self-sustaining, and to support programs and services for members. Brian also sits as a director on the Qalipu Cultural Foundation.
Brian brings an extensive background in business development, finance and senior management, and hopes to employ his experience in these areas to promote economic growth and sound financial management within Qalipu. Additionally, as with many Band members, he shares a thirst for Mi’kmaq culture and the desire to explore our cultural roots.
Brian adds, “I look forward to working with the Cultural Foundation and supporting its mandate to rediscover our heritage and traditions, and to promote a renewed spirit of Mi’kmaq culture within our Band and province.”
In his role as your representative on the Qalipu Council, Brian works diligently on your behalf to secure and grow existing social, economic, and cultural programs, and he will work in concert with Council and Qalipu Administration to enhance the benefits and opportunities available to all Band members.
Exploits Ward Councilor, Andrew (Andy) Barker
Andrew (Andy) Barker is serving his second term as Qalipu Councilor for the Exploits Ward. He serves as one of two Qalipu Council representatives on the Service Qalipu Standing Committee. This committee makes recommendations to the Qalipu Council based on community input, and acts as a liaison between the committee and the Qalipu Council.
Andy was born in Grand Falls in 1945 and lives there today with his spouse, Dianne. They have nine children: Mary Ann, Andrew John, Nancy, Barbara, Catherine, Joanna, Margaret, Nora, and Salome. Andy’s aboriginal ancestry is linked to the John family of Conne River.
Andy attended St. Michael’s High School in Grand Falls, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Francis Xavier University, a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Education degree from Memorial University. He worked as a teacher and librarian throughout his career and is currently a part-time Librarian Technician at the College of the North Atlantic in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Andy served as a Town Councilor from 1977-81 and 1981-85 in Grand Falls. He also previously been awarded the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award Senior Non-Fiction and is presently a freelance columnist with The Advertiser.
Flat Bay Ward Councilor, Ben Bennett
Ben Bennett is serving his second term as Qalipu Councilor for the Flat Bay Ward. During his first term, he gained experience working on the Education Committee, where he was instrumental in ensuring that members would receive funding for their tuition and books. He also gained experience communicating with membership through relating policies and program information essential to membership in the Flat Bay Ward. He also spent time on hiring committees that selected youth for summer employment.
Currently, Ben serves as chairperson for the Qalipu Business Trust Standing Committee. This Committee is responsible for exploring business and partnership opportunities, and generating own source revenue that the Band can use to be self-sustaining, and to support programs and services for members.
Ben was born in Stephenville, raised in St. George’s, and has resided in Flay Bay for twelve years. He came from a large family of 15 that remarkably all still live in the Bay St. George area.
Ben is married to Nancy Nelma and they have three boys aged 17, 10 and 6. Ben graduated from Memorial University with a B.Ed, B.Sc. in 1998 and worked as a high school teacher with several schools prior to his current position as ABE Math instructor at Western College in 2007.
He was a member of the FNI for more than 20 years and feels it is a privilege and honour to be on the Qalipu Mi’Kmaq Band Council to help all members reach their goals.
Gander Bay Ward Councilor, Calvin Francis
Calvin Francis is serving his second term as Qalipu Councilor for the Gander Bay Ward. Over the past three years he has gained experience working on the Service Qalipu Standing Committee. Calvin is currently on the standing committee for Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA), a Natural Resources association whose mandate is to represent Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland in aquatic resource and ocean management issues.
Calvin was born in Clarke’s Head, Gander Bay, to a family of 9 children. He has lived there for 64 years and has been married for 35 years to his wife Anne. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Calvin has been Chief of the Gander Bay Indian Band for 35 years, and has been on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians throughout this time. In addition to this experience, he has worked as a housing inspector, fisheries director, and manager.
Calvin says his work with the FNI has been very gratifying, as he has been able to meet and assist aboriginal people with social and economic issues. With the creation of the Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band, he is gratified that people are now recognized as status Indians. He wants to see the Mi’Kmaq communities improve both socially and economically.
Glenwood Ward Councilor, Francis Skeard
Francis (Frank) Skeard’s is serving his second term as Qalipu Councilor for the Glenwood Ward. He currently serves as chairperson of the Service Qalipu Standing Committee. This committee makes recommendations to the Qalipu Council based on community input, and acts as a liaison between that committee and the Qalipu Council. Frank also serves as a member of the Enrolment Implementation Committee, ensuring that the Enrolment agreement, as ratified by the membership, is upheld and enforced.
Frank was born in Mount Moriah and now lives in Gander having moved there in 1993 from Happy Valley/Goose Bay. Frank comes from a relatively small family however, both of his parents have many sibling which gives him a large extended family all over Newfoundland and throughout Canada. Frank is married to Deneka, who works as a nurse in Gander. They have two daughters, Jordan, and Kaitlyn.
Frank works as the Regional Ecosystem Director for the Forest Services Branch, Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.
As a QMFN Band Councilor, Frank is looking forward to many challenges, including:
- Assisting people on membership and related issues
- Representing the Glenwood Ward at council meetings to ensure their voice continues to be heard
- Communicating with Band members to ensure they are aware of Band programs and services
- Advocating on behalf of Band members when needed
- Building a strong aboriginal organization for the benefit of all members
Port au Port Ward Councilor, Jasen Benwah
Jasen Benwah is serving his first term on the Qalipu Council. In addition to representing members of the Port au Port Ward, Jasen serves on the Qalipu Business Trust Standing Committee. This Committee is responsible for exploring business and partnership opportunities, and generating own source revenue that the Band can use to be self-sustaining, and to support programs and services for members.
Although Jasen is new to the Qalipu Council, he has been involved with the aboriginal community in Newfoundland for many years. He has been Chief of Benoit 1st Nation for 10 years and before that he was Chief of Kitpu. He has also been a member of the Indian Head First Nation and Port au Port Indian Band, and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians. He continues to be passionate about promoting Mi’kmaq language, culture and heritage for Mi’kmaq people.
Jasen studied Business Administration at Western College, and Occupational Health & Safety at the University of New Brunswick. He is a Commissioner of Oaths and Marriage Commissioner, as appointed by the Minister of Justice in 2006. Jasen is also busy volunteering as a Town Councilor on the Municipal Council of Cape St. George, and has served as that community’s mayor. He is also the past director and President of the Port au Port Economic Development Association.
Jasen was also one of the founding board members of the Bay St, George Mi’kmaq Cultural Revival Committee and proudly worked on the first Bay St. George Powwow, now in its tenth year.
Jasen hopes to give good representation, transparency, and strong support for the Mi’kmaq for the Ward of Port au Port and plans to spend the next 3 years getting to know the Qalipu Band, its bureaucracy, politics and all that it is and what it can do for its members.
Stephenville Ward Councilor, Gerard Alexander
Gerard Alexander served as Qalipu Councilor for the Stephenville Ward for one year during the transition from the Federation of Newfoundland Indians to the Qalipu Band in 2011. This year, he has been elected to serve his first full term as Ward Councilor for Stephenville. Gerard serves on the Finance Committee, the committee which helps to ensure financial accountability of the organization and acts as liaison between the Qalipu Council and staff.
Gerard was born in Stephenville Crossing where he has lived for all but six years which he spent in Ontario. He has three children, and three grandsons. He has been on various boards during his time in the community. In 2009, he became Chief of the Indian Head Band and he has also previously served on the Board of Directors with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.
Gerard is looking forward to the advancement that can be achieved over the next 3 years serving as Councilor for the Stephenville Ward.
Band members from the Stephenville Ward can contact Gerard at home or bring their concerns to Band meetings, the dates of which will be announced for this Ward throughout the year.
St. George’s Ward Councilor, Arlene Blanchard White
Arlene Blanchard White’s is serving her first term as a Qalipu Councilor. She is currently assigned to the Education Standing Committee. This committee meets regularly to hear about education policy change recommendations and in turn, make recommendations to Council. She also works as a Qalipu Council director on the Qalipu Cultural Foundation.
As councilor for the St. George’s Ward, Arlene wishes to hear from our people and represent them in the best way possible. She is the liaison between the people and the Council, ensuring members always have a clear understanding of what we are doing and where we are going. She says, “Qalipu belongs to the members and I would like to build a Nation where by we are all equal and everyone is involved.”
Arlene was born and raised in Shallop Cove, where she still resides with her husband Cal White Jr. Arlene is involved in her community as a member of the St. George’s Indian Band, and a member of the Indian Cove Women’s Circle.
Arlene has a diverse career background starting out in the tourism industry, having worked for airlines, travel agencies, and Marine Atlantic. She also previously operated an adventure tour/accommodations business along with her husband. Wanting to try something new, she moved into business studies and completed a Business Administration, Human Resources Management Diploma and gained employment with the Business Development Bank of Canada. She then went on to manage the St. George’s Branch of the Leading Edge Credit Union for six years before moving on to the Ulnooweg Development Group Inc., helping aboriginal businesses.
Arlene enjoys the great outdoors, and during the summer months you can find her jogging along a trail, hiking a mountain, berry picking or swimming in one of her favorite swimming holes. Her winter season outdoor hobbies include snowshoeing, skiing, walking in the woods or skating on a local pond. She also enjoys crafts such as beading, moccasin making and knitting.
Arlene enjoys being involved in our culture and says she feels most at home when she dances as a fancy shawl dancer. She adds, “when I hear the first beat of the big drum, it calls me, it’s like nothing else matters and the spirits move me.”