Messagefrthechief

Message from the Chief September 2019

Kwe’

As we approach our Annual General Assembly, coming up this weekend on September 15th in Corner Brook and on September 29th in Grand Falls-Windsor, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and the accomplishments of our Nation.  It brings me great pride to report on some of this good work being done by our Council, staff, committees and community leaders to move us forward together, for a better tomorrow.

In October 2018, our new Council was elected, and I am excited about the active participation that our Councilors are demonstrating in our Ward communities, and the progress made during the past several months.

For the first time, the Annual General Assembly (AGA) is being held in both central and western regions as a means of facilitating greater direct participation by our members.   Further, also for the first time, the AGA will be live-streamed and available to those who can’t attend the AGA in person.

At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank our Council members for their support and collaboration in moving Qalipu forward in a positive way on behalf of our members.

On July 26, 2018 (St. Anne’s Day), Qalipu First Nation was accepted into the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).  This was a significant and important move for us as we now take our rightful place with other First Nations in Canada.  Membership in this national group, representing some 900,000 First Nation citizens in Canada, signifies acceptance and acknowledgment for the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland.  This represents a significant step forward in our own journey towards reconciliation.  Qalipu continues to participate in all major events hosted by the AFN.

In April 2019, Qalipu became a member of the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) all Chiefs Secretariat.  This policy and advocacy body represents more than thirty First Nation communities in Atlantic Canada and Gaspe region of Quebec.  The APC plays an important role in economic development activities in support of all Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Innu communities across the Atlantic Region.

Qalipu has been working with the APC in areas of Education, Community Development and Natural Resources and looks forward to new ways of collaborating and building strength as a united First Nation peoples.  Our wish at Qalipu First Nation is to work collaboratively with other Chiefs and Indigenous communities across Atlantic Canada in an effort to work to build a better tomorrow for all Mi’kmaq.

Also in this past fiscal year, Qalipu entered into a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) which will see both parties collaborate on the delivery of new educational pathways, as well as community and business development initiatives.  Throughout the term of the MOU the organizations will explore educational opportunities which will allow students to complete high school and transition into post-secondary education; build professional capacity in educational programming in health sciences, tourism, business development and environmental stewardship; and, explore mutually beneficially partnerships on applied research and innovation that lead to sustainable community and business development.

Qalipu was recently recognized as a committed supporter of Reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces and received the Special Award for support to the Reserve Force (Black Bear Program) on May 9, 2019, during a formal ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  I am proud of the commitment that Qalipu has made to promote and encourage our youth to participate in this worthwhile program.  This past summer a total of eleven youth enrolled in the Black Bear Program.  Nine successfully completed the program, seven of whom were members of the Qalipu First Nation.

On March 14, 2019, Qalipu signed a ten-year grant funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada. The agreement marks a significant departure from annually allocated funds that were often lacking in flexibility and autonomy for the Band and marks a new opportunity for creating a shared vision for the future with the members it represents.  The new comprehensive funding agreement will allow the Band to design its own programs, carry money forward from year to year, and focus on creating a vision for the future that is driven by the people and communities it represents.  In conjunction with the ten-year grant funding agreement, Qalipu will be developing a Comprehensive Community Plan.  We look forward to the active engagement of our membership in developing a long-term plan for our future.

Early in 2019, Qalipu staff and Councilors traveled around the island to deliver information sessions regarding the many programs services and benefits that are available through the Band, and to familiarize new members about what it means to belong to the Qalipu First Nation. In total, eleven sessions were hosted.  Sessions were well attended by our members who were provided with an information guide that outlined the many programs available through the Band.  The Membership Information Guide is available at our offices and on our website and is an excellent resource for all Band members.

On November 15, 2018, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians entered into exploratory discussions to “…address outstanding concerns regarding members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, RCMP and FNI members or members of other Mi’kmaq organizations who were named in the 2008 agreement and denied Founding Membership.” Discussions began in December 2018 and will continue as we strive to finalize membership.

In the coming year, you will experience the same high level of engagement in our communities by our Council.  The focus will continue to be directed toward completing the many initiatives that have been identified in our strategic plan and to new initiatives that will be brought forward by our community members.  We endeavour to work together in peace, harmony, and unity with our member communities as we strive to build a better tomorrow for our people and our Nation.

Wela’lin
Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Chief Bob Gloade, APC Co-Chair, Regional Chief Roger Augustine, Assembly of First Nations, Chief Brendan Mitchell, Qalipu First Nation, John G. Paul, Executive Director, Atlantic Policy Congress, Chief Terry Paul, Membertou First Nation.

Message From the Chief – April 12 2019

Kwe’

It’s been a very long but busy winter at Qalipu First Nation.  We have seen some substantial advances and as spring brings forward growth and new life, we look forward to new opportunities at Qalipu First Nation.

Recently, we’ve taken a positive step forward in building our relationship within the broader Mi’kmaq community in Atlantic Canada.  On April 11, we were accepted into the Atlantic Policy Congress.  This regional policy, research and advocacy organization plays an important role in economic development activities across the region in support of all Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passmaquoddy and Innu communities across Atlantic Canada.   We are pleased to be a part of this organization and look forward to working in unity and collaboration with our First Nation neighbours.

The Band recently completed the first phase of certification with the First Nations Financial Management Board.   This certification gives us greater financial independence and opportunity.  This certification also shows that our First Nation has sound financial and business practices in place as we plan for the long-term success of the Band.

On April 2, we were pleased to announce a new development that provides for more sustainable funding for our membership, and a stronger sense of self-determination for our Nation.  We signed a ten-year grant funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada.  The agreement marks a significant departure from annually allocated funds that were often lacking in flexibility and autonomy for the Band and marks a new opportunity for creating a shared vision for the future with the people we represent.  The Agreement is effective as of April 1, 2019.

I’m especially pleased with the effort that is being put forward by our staff with regards to membership engagement throughout the province.  We have met with people in Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander, Gander Bay, St. George’s, Stephenville, Flat Bay and Burgeo.  The final leg of the tour will include Port au Port, Corner Brook, Benoit’s Cove and St. John’s.

Regarding enrolment, we continue to be engaged in exploratory discussions with the Government of Canada regarding treatment of military and RCMP (veterans) and those who were former members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians who have lost status or who were not admitted into the Band initially.  Conversations have been ongoing since December and we are moving in a positive direction based on our discussions to date.

Our Education and Training Department has been working collaboratively with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Unit to raise awareness of a summer employment opportunity for indigenous people.  The Black Bear Program is six-week training opportunity conducted in Camp Gagetown, NB.   It provides an opportunity for participants to gain basic military training, earn $4200, have all travel, accommodations and meals provided.  As well, culture is integrated into all elements of training.  I encourage people to consider this program as a rewarding summer employment opportunity.  The deadline to apply is April 30, 2019.  Find out more here: https://www.canada.ca/en/army/services/black-bear.html

I wish you all the best and hope you have a very happy and enjoyable Easter.

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell

Kerzen zum gedenken.

Message From the Chief – January 10 2019

Kwe’

I was saddened to hear the news of a terrible tragedy that occurred last night in Conne River.  A young woman’s life was taken in an act of violence.  I encourage all of you to pray with me for healing and comfort for her family and community who are today dealing with the impact of such a terrible loss.

Wela’lin
Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Message from the Chief – December 24, 2018

Kwe’

On behalf of Qalipu Council and Staff, I would like to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and I hope and pray that the New Year will be filled with encouragement, good health and prosperity for all.

My wish is that your homes will be filled with the true spirit of Christmas and that good times will be shared with family and friends as we celebrate this beautiful season.

The past year has been busy and productive for our Council and Staff as we have endeavoured to provide programs and services which meet the needs of our people and communities. Our new Council which was sworn in on November 23, is looking forward to 2019 and the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We will continue to move forward together in the spirit of unity and collaboration in building upon what has already been accomplished.

We recognize the need for a better outcome regarding enrolment in Qalipu First Nation as many Founding Members lost status in August. We will continue to press for changes that will bring many people back to Qalipu. This new conversation with the Government of Canada began in December and will carry into the next few months.

Your new Council will continue to concentrate efforts on cultural initiatives and language and will be providing support for community initiatives in this regard. Business development will see greater focus with a goal to provide funds that will be eventually distributed to our Ward communities. Also, health and wellness initiatives are expected to see expansion. Two new Qalipu Committees have been introduced in the areas of housing and communications to better meet member needs. We look forward to keeping Qalipu members and our communities apprised of new developments in these and other areas.

I am excited and optimistic about what Qalipu First Nation will accomplish in 2019 and I look forward to working together with our new Council for the betterment of our People and our Nation.

Merry Christmas,

Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Message From the Chief – November 9, 2018

Kwe’

I greet you today humbled and thankful that you have chosen me to be your Chief for another term following our election on October 23.  I look forward to continuing to build on projects that were started in my first term including establishment of the Business Park, the pursuit of Indigenous hunting and fishing rights, partnerships, enhanced community engagement and cultural activity, and settling into our place among other First Nations in Canada with the Assembly of First Nations.

I would like to thank all those who were so supportive during election time.  Supporters, friends, and family, thank you for your faith in me and for your encouragement throughout the election and always.

I further offer thanks and congratulations to the newly elected Council: Randy Drover, Central Vice Chief; Keith Cormier, Western Vice Chief; Calvin Francis, Gander Bay; Frank Skeard, Glenwood; Andy Barker, Exploits; Bern White, Benoit’s Cove; Brian Dicks, Corner Brook; Jasen Benwah, Port au Port; Odelle Pike, Stephenville; Ivan J. White, St. George’s and; Ivan White, Flat Bay.  I look forward to working with the new Council in the years to come.

We begin our work together at 9:30 am, November 23, commencing with a Swearing in Ceremony at the Civic Centre in Corner Brook.

We are pleased to share that we will be joined by special guests Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Morley Googoo, and Miawpukek First Nation Chief Mi’sel Joe.  All our community Chiefs, partners and government representatives have been invited to join us, and an invitation is extended to all of you! We hope to see many of you there as we mark a new beginning, a new chapter for the Qalipu First Nation.

Thank you and blessings for those who have moved on from Council, and to those who put themselves out there as candidates in the recent election.   I hope that you will all stay active in your communities and continue to share your gifts.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to serve our membership as Chief of Qalipu First Nation for the next three years.  I truly hope that our people can be united in the spirit of healing and reconciliation as we go forward to build a better tomorrow together, for our people and communities.

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell

MFC
Submitted by Richard Collier

Mi’kmaw veteran’s hunger strike to protest removal of his Indian status in its 4th week

“I’m extremely concerned about the situation for veterans and others who have lost their status.  Particularly, I’m concerned about the health of veteran Richard Collier who is currently on day 26 of his hunger strike at his home in Pictou Landing, NS.  This represents a serious situation both for Richard and other veterans who may be considering similar action in support of their cause.

On August 30 I met with Veterans Affairs Minister, Seamus O’Regan, together with three veterans and the provinces’ Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs.  This meeting was extremely emotional and heartfelt with a commitment from the Minister to address this issue at the highest levels of government.  However, to this day we still await a response from the Minister regarding our request to have veterans reinstated as members of Qalipu First Nation.

I call on all members of our communities to pray with me for Richard and his cause on behalf of veterans and all those that have lost status.”

-Chief Brendan Mitchell

Media:

CBC News, September 26, 2018

Mi’kmaw veteran’s hunger strike to protest removal of his Indian status in its 4th week

https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/richard-collier-hunger-strike-qalipu-mikmaq-first-nation-veteran-ptsd-1.4834200

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Photo caption: (L-R) MFN Councilor Corey John, Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, MFN Chief Mi’sel Joe

Message from the Chief- July 31, 2018

Kwe’

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.

 

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Former CAP National Chief Dwight Dorey and Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell take a stroll along the Corner Brook Stream Trail during a visit to Newfoundland in 2016

Message from the Chief – May 25 2018

It is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of former National Chief Dwight Dorey.  Dwight was a friend to me, and a strong supporter of the Qalipu First Nation during his time as National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and over the years as an advocate for the Indigenous people of Canada.

On behalf of Qalipu First Nation, its council, staff and membership, we express our sincere condolences to members of Dwight’s family and wish them comfort at this time.

Dwight will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

-Chief Brendan Mitchell

Read about Dwight Dorey’s life, and contribution to Indigenous advocacy in Canada:

Windspeaker News, May 24, 2018 Former National Chief Dwight Dorey has passed away
http://www.windspeaker.com/news/windspeaker-news/former-national-chief-dwight-dorey-has-passed-away/

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Message From the Chief – February 2, 2018

Kwe’

Happy New Year.   I hope that you all weathered the recent flooding in Newfoundland, and that in cases where damage was done, I pray that you found support in your families and community.  May the Creator bless you all with good health and the care of community in the year ahead.

Something that has been much talked about in the media and on Facebook recently is the issue of separation that has been brought forward by the Flat Bay Band Inc. This has been a concern for members living in Flat Bay, and for other people in our communities.  I would like to take a moment to address this topic.  Band Division is, in fact, a provision under the Indian Act.  If you would like to read about it for yourself, go to this link and look under the heading “How to divide a Band?”

I would like to take a moment to clarify a few points with members of the Qalipu First Nation who have been calling me to ask what this means for them, and others who may be wondering.  First, I am not in support of Band division.  Secondly, Band division would be a lengthy process involving formal application to INAC and agreement by the Minister.  Further, the elected Chief and Council of the day would have to agree to division.   Such a division would also require the majority vote of status members belonging to the impacted community.  In this case, status card holders who are members of the community of Flat Bay, and those directly affiliated with Flat Bay Band Inc.

While some of the rhetoric in the ongoing conversation seems to imply that Band division would rectify issues related to the enrolment process or achieve status for individuals who do not currently have it, I regret to say that it will not.  Only status members would decide on division, and the number of status card holders would remain the same.  I hope that this situation has not given false hope to people.

I have no issue with any community or organization doing whatever they can to better themselves and the lives of people.  I do however, feel that the timing may not be the best to publicly talk of division.  We should try to stick together at this time as we fight for the rights of people who are not yet members of Qalipu and those that may lose First Nation status after the enrolment process concludes.

At this time, I am working diligently for those residents of our 67 recognized Mi’kmaq communities who were assessed on the points system and were found ineligible for Founding Membership.  This system of assessment, the points system, was never intended to be applied to people who lived in one of those communities at the time of recognition! People who, in fact, lived there all their lives.  I am compiling information on cases like these and I will fight for their fair treatment.   There are many others in this process we strongly support, and we will continue to do so.

While I’m talking about fairness, how on earth can the very members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, those who voted to ratify the Agreement to create our First Nation in the first place, now be found ineligible for membership? This is unacceptable, and the Government of Canada has not heard the last from me on this.  Grassroots people, I am fighting for you.  I offer myself, wholeheartedly, to walk with the people and seek justice.

Were you an FNI member who voted on ratification for the Agreement in Principle, yet you have been found ineligible for Founding Membership? Did you live in a Mi’kmaq community yet, were assessed on the points system and denied membership because you didn’t have enough points?

I want to hear from you!  Please send your story to stories@qalipu.ca

Wela’lin,
Chief Brendan Mitchell

Management Team
Management Team, Qalipu First Nation (back L-R) Natural Resources Director Jonathan Strickland, Chief Brendan Mitchell, Band Manager Keith Goulding, Director of Operations Rob Dicks, (front L-R) Manager of Health Services Jenna Osmond, Comptroller Jodie Wells, Director of Education and Training Monique Carroll and Office Manager Janet McAuley. Missing from photo is Director of Community Development Ralph Eldridge.

Message from the Chief December 22 2017

Kwe’

As we prepare for the Christmas season, I pray that each of you are happy and in good health.  For those among us who are in need, let us all take a moment to send warm prayers of encouragement and hope for better days ahead.

Reflecting on all that has happened during 2017, I recognize that it has been a bittersweet year.  While there are many positive accomplishments to be proud of, we have also had moments that were challenging for our people and communities.  I would like to take a moment to highlight some of the positive moments of 2017.

We’ve been helpful to our young people with respect to the North American Indigenous Games.  Our Council donated $15,000 to support the young Mi’kmaq athletes who participated in this competitive sporting event.  We are currently planning for our continued engagement and support of our young athletes over the years to come.

We have also supported significant community events including the annual Bay St. George Powwow in Flat Bay, and the first ever Exploits Mawio’mi in Grand Falls-Windsor.   The work of our grassroots organizations and people are what keeps our culture and communities alive and thriving and, I am so proud of the many initiatives being led by the people.  Likewise, through our annual donation to the Qalipu Cultural Foundation, many workshops, teachings and events receive financial support through their grants.

In terms of the Qalipu administration and management, we have had a very good year indeed.  Every year INAC goes through a risk evaluation process of all First Nation Bands in Canada.  This involves looking at our protocol, our documentation, our reporting, transparency and accounting systems.  This year, we are proud to report a score of 1.51, likely the best score among all First Nations in Canada.

In 2017, we are also celebrating ISO certification.  This international certification is based on guidelines that, once met, demonstrate excellence and reliability in business operations, policy and procedures.  I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff here who have been working toward this achievement of this goal for the last two years.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge the Enrolment process and the hurt that it has caused among our people and communities.  I have been trying my best to bring a greater sense of fairness to this process but, the Government of Canada is standing firm on the agreement as signed.  I would go so far as to say the government has been unyielding to practical solutions that have been presented.  If you would like to hear more about what I have been up against in this situation, I encourage you to take a listen to my end of year interview on Mi’kmaq Matters

On behalf of Council and staff, I would like to extend a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and fulfilling New Year to each of you.  I pray that this Christmas your homes are filled with the true spirit of the season, and that you enjoy the company of family, friends and community.

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell