We made it through the winter and can now look forward to warmer temperatures, sunny days and time outside. The Mi’kmaq of the island have weathered a lot together, still we find many things to be thankful for.
I am proud to share with you all that our Nation has again this year received an excellent rating in our General Assessment. Our score of 2.2, gauging effectiveness of our processes, financial management and reporting and other areas that measure our accountability, was among the best of First Nations in Canada. We are also poised to be the first Nation in Canada to implement an International Standards Organization (ISO) Quality Management System that is representative of our entire operation in the areas of education and training, health, tourism, employment, culture, economic development and natural resources.
Recently, I met with Chief Mise’l Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation. Along with our respective senior management teams, we looked at mutual areas of interest where we might work collaboratively and speak with a united voice for indigenous rights and issues in Newfoundland. I’m very excited about the possibilities that exist for teamwork between our Nations.
Also, this month we formalized a partnership with Parks Canada through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The partnership between our organizations, leading back to FNI days, has been the source of many positive shared initiatives. Mi’kmaq interpretation in the Park, summer employment opportunities for our members, development of a beautiful exhibit now stationed in our Mi’kmaq Museum, a travelling show that celebrated our Mi’kmaq heritage throughout the province and the very successful Outdoor Education Program which continues to benefit hundreds of our young people every year. Perhaps most dear to my heart was the HSMBC commemoration, and opening of the exhibits and walking trail for my great grandfather Mattie Mitchell, a renowned Mi’kmaq hunter and guide.
Through the MOU, we have simply agreed to continue looking for opportunities to work together in areas of mutual interest as we have in the past. This includes things like natural and cultural heritage resource conservation, public understanding and appreciation, visitor experience, conserving heritage places, providing education and outreach, and employment opportunities for our people to tell their own stories in a land where indigenous history reaches back well beyond 150 years.
As we come into the summer months, there are several exciting events coming up that many of us are looking forward to. For the first time, the Exploits Aboriginal Community Group will host a Mawio’mi June 16-18 in central Newfoundland. I expect there should be more detail about this event in the days to come.
Another first is the Gros Morne Indigenous Cultural Festival August 4-6 hosted by the Qalipu Cultural Foundation in partnership with Parks Canada. The festival will celebrate indigenous cultures from across our great land of Newfoundland and Labrador. Inuit, Innu, Metis, and Mi’kmaq will all come together in celebration. Our artists and crafts people will have an opportunity to sell and showcase their crafts, local teachers and Elders will be engaged to share elements of our culture with the world, and there will be beautiful music, food, dancing, drumming, campfires, and other opportunities for enjoyment for the whole family. This all set on the windswept grasses of Shallow Bay Beach in the beautiful town of Cow Head where indigenous history spans millennia and into the present day with the Mi’kmaq who live there now.
As in previous years, our calendars are marked for the first and second weekends of July for our local Powwow Trail. The Miawpukek First Nation Powwow will take place July 7-9th in Conne River, and the Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Powwow will take place in Flat Bay July 14-16th.
I hope to see all of you out and about this summer, supporting our community events and spending time together with friends and family.
Chief Brendan Mitchell