I’m pleased to greet you today, back home in Newfoundland after a visit to Canada’s west coast for the 39th Annual General Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Vancouver. The AFN represents some 900,000 First Nations people in Canada, across hundreds of communities and I’m pleased to say that the Qalipu First Nation, and its membership, is now a part of that family.
Acceptance into the AFN is a significant moment for our First Nation. This move will allow the Band to have a strong national voice and become a part of the wider First Nation community in Canada, sharing ideas and learning from the experiences of other First Nations.
I would like to acknowledge those who supported this positive step forward including Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation (MFN) who brought forward the resolution to admit Qalipu into the AFN, and Corey John, MFN Councilor, who seconded the resolution and voted under the Glenwood proxy. I wish to also thank MFN Vice-Chief Shayne MacDonald for his valued assistance. Qalipu was also strongly supported by our Regional Chief Morley Googoo. Chief Googoo represents Newfoundland and Nova Scotia on the AFN, and we will welcome him for a visit in Corner Brook this fall.
For members who may be wondering who the Assembly of First Nations is, and what they stand for, I encourage you to check out this video What is the AFN?
I would be remiss not to extend my sincere thanks to Chief Robert Bertrand and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), the national organization with whom both the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) and Qalipu have been affiliated with for many years. CAP supported our people and communities through a variety of programs and services and helped us on our journey to achieve recognition.
August 31 will mark a disappointing event for our people as 10,500 may be losing their status. I am disappointed with the treatment of these members, particularly those who are living away from our communities for no other reason than to find employment and better their lives. Qalipu continues to press government to change their decision and to allow our members to retain their status at this time. Qalipu First Nation has upheld the decision of the Newfoundland Supreme Court on the Benoit case, and has written to the Minister imploring that the Federal Government allow not just the six plaintiffs impacted by this case, but all members to retain their Indian Status.
This fall will be a busy time for the Qalipu First Nation as we prepare for our Annual General Assembly on September 15. This Assembly will be hosted in St. George’s and we hope to see many of you make it to this special annual event. As well, our election for Chief and Councilors is just around the corner and is set to take place on October 23, 2018. Our Election Reform Committee has been working effectively to make improvements to the election process based on feedback we received following the last election. Please keep an eye on our website for more information, including the Amendment Vote to change our Custom Rules, and to sign up for mail-in ballots if you will have difficulty making it to the polls.
Before all that, let’s head out for one more Newfoundland Mawio’mi. It was a wonderful time in Exploits, Conne River and Flat Bay and now, it’s time to head to Burgeo to participate in their first ever Colour and Culture Mawio’mi. This event will be held on August 18 and I hope to see you all there!
I wish you all the best, and am sending my prayers for health, wellness and happiness all summer long.
Chief Brendan Mitchell