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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

Moose Hide Pic

Message From the Chief October 2017

Kwe’

I hope this message finds you well.

We recently held our Annual General Assembly (AGA).  We like to move these meetings around so that our meetings are accessible to different communities throughout the regions.  This year, we held the AGA in Deer Lake, a community of the Benoit’s Cove Ward.  The AGA was an opportunity for us to review the activities and finances of the last fiscal year, and to talk about where we are going next.  A number of members were in attendance and there were some great questions asked.  To view the Annual Report, please click here

I am pleased to share that the Qalipu First Nation has partnered with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to bring the Moose Hide Campaign to our communities in Newfoundland.  This is a grassroots movement, that started in British Columbia, of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who are standing up against violence towards women and children.  Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect, and protect the women and children in one’s life and to work together with other men to end violence against women and children.  Also, this program will be expanded in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Western Newfoundland.  For those who would like to wear the pin, please visit one of our office locations where the pins are available, free of charge.

In the coming months there will be more opportunities to get together as Ward Councilors arrange Town Hall meetings in their communities.  Please keep an eye on our events calendar for updated information on dates and locations for Ward meetings.  http://qalipu.ca/events/

We can soon expect to start receiving the results of the appeals process.  The first batch of letters is expected to be sent out at the end of October, and at the end of every consecutive month thereafter until the process has been completed.  We have compiled a number of questions and answers that should help everyone to understand the details of the process and how outcomes are determined.  Please click here to view the Question and Answers.

I would like to remind everyone that October is Mi’kmaq History Month.  In 1993, Nova Scotia Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy declared October as the official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. Each October, community activities, events, sharing and showcasing the Mi’kmaw history takes place.  (http://mikmaqhistorymonth.ca/about/) .

Let this be an opportunity for all of us to learn something more about our history and culture, and share with each other what we have learned.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the executive and employees of the newly established People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre on their official opening at their locations in Stephenville and St. George’s.  I attended the official opening in St. George’s and, as usual, received a warm welcome and witnessed positive cultural sharing.  This is the ideal for Friendship Centre’s across Canada and is a natural fit for the Bay St. George area.  We can expect positive initiatives and good things from the People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre.  Find out what’s happening by visiting their new website here: http://pdifc.com/

I wish you all a pleasant fall season.  Be sure to spend time outside enjoying the fall colours before the snow comes.

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Message from the Chief July 14, 2017

It’s Powwow time! There was a real nice turn out at the Bay St. George Cultural Circle last night for the pre-powwow gathering, hosted there every year, and I’m on my way to Flat Bay in time for the Grand Entry of the 11th Annual Bay St. George Powwow tomorrow.   A special word of thanks to the committee that organized this year’s event.  Likewise, a special thanks to the people of Conne River who organized the Miawpukek Powwow last weekend, and for the warm welcome I received while visiting.  It was a wonderful time.

As your Chief, it’s important to me to meet with as many of you, face-to-face as I can throughout the year at these special gatherings.  Of course, there are many other areas of importance for the Nation, many of which we see outlined in Qalipu’s five-year Strategic Plan.  This plan was developed in consultation with membership both in person and by survey, and with the staff and Council focus-groups.  It is based around cornerstones that were most frequently identified by members and focus groups: Member Services; Communications; Culture & Heritage; Environmental Stewardship; Operational Excellence and Economic Development.

I’m proud to report some positive steps taken recently toward our Economic Development goals.  The pursuit of successful investment and business growth is the Band’s responsibility.  A Nation without reserve lands, we do not have access to significant natural resources to fuel growth and meet the demand for programs and services.  We must focus on generating income and wealth from sources other than direct government funding through successful economic growth and business development.

Qalipu has recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Barry Group Inc., the largest inshore fishing enterprise in Atlantic Canada.  Together we will pursue ocean perch quota access from the Federal Government.  Once obtained, there will be opportunities for our inshore fishers to obtain licenses from Qalipu, and further employment opportunities in processing plants that the Barry Group Inc. intends to establish on the west coast.  There will likely be hundreds of jobs for members and non-members alike.  We are also going to explore the development of a Qalipu branded fish product, and look forward to acquiring new skills and expertise from the Barry Group who has been active in our province’s fishery for more than a hundred years.

Participation in the fishery is not a new thing for our Band, or its predecessor the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.  For nearly twenty years we have managed quotas and fishing licenses for our membership through Mi’kmaq Commercial Fisheries, and through the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy.  Qalipu also owns and operates its own commercial fishing vessel.  This new partnership with the Barry Group builds on our past development in the fishery, and is a positive step forward in the sustainable management, and engagement of aboriginal people in the fishery; we look forward not only to economic development opportunities but also to carry on a tradition of our ancestors.  Fishing has long been a mainstay of our culture in this province, and part of our traditional way of life.

You can expect to hear more about the MOU and way forward as details are worked out between our Council and the Barry Group.

I wish you all the best this summer season.  May the Creator bless you with many wonderful moments.

Wela’lin
Chief Brendan Mitchell

Chief dancing

Message from the Chief May 29, 2017

Kwe’

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.

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.

Wela’lin

Chief Brendan Mitchell

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Message from the Chief – March 31 2017

After nearly a decade from the time the Agreement to create our first nation was signed, the Qalipu enrolment process recently culminated in the mailout of 101,000 decision letters.   By now members and applicants should have received a letter from the Enrolment Committee.  I am aware that there are some people who are still waiting.  Whether it is due to a changed address that didn’t get updated, or some other potential issue, I want you to know that Canada and the FNI are monitoring the situation.  It should be noted that requests for copies of the decision letters are addressed within 48 hours, and ensuring that all applicants have received their decision letter is of utmost importance.  This played an important part in the decision to extend the Appeal Notice submission deadline first from March 17 to the 31st, and recently to April 13, 2017.

The release of these letters on our communities, which included notification to some 10,500 current members that may potentially have their status revoked, has caused a great upset among our families and communities.

On February 13, I set out on a difficult journey to meet with members and applicants in communities across the province.   In each of the communities along the tour, I heard similar frustrations, confusion and uncertainty.  In Flat Bay, I witnessed the anger and frustration of three generations divided by status and non-status in one family; in St. George’s I met a veteran who was denied status due to residency, or his absence from the community while on multiple tours of duty; in Stephenville, a well-spoken woman from the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network brought forward the concerns of those who were lost in the confusion and paperwork of a long enrolment process.  At every stop on the community tour—Port au Port, Burgeo, Corner Brook, Benoit’s Cove, Port Saunders, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gambo, Appleton and St. John’s—I heard stories of upset that I now carry with me on my shoulders and in my heart.

I can sincerely say that I have heard and felt the struggle of people in our communities.  I know that our meetings were a good chance to talk to one another and I am truly greatful to have had the opportunity to meet so many of you during this difficult time.  I want you to know that while I cannot solve all the issues that I have heard about, I am doing everything that I can to ensure the most positive outcome possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all of our End of Enrolment Support Team which has been put in place at each of our office locations-St. George’s, Stephenville, Corner Brook, Glenwood and Grand Falls-Windsor.  If you haven’t already reached out to a member of the team I encourage you to do so.  Each has been trained to help you understand the meaning of your decision letter, the appeals process, and the enrolment process as it unfolded overall.  We have also provided training for community members in Flat Bay, Burgeo, Port au Port, Port Saunders and Parsons Pond so that people in those areas may find the support they need.

Additionally, we recognize the strain that may be impacting our mental well-being and assistance is being made available to applicants in this regard.

My prayer is that we continue to find ways to work together to face the challenges that the enrolment issue presents.

Wela’lioq

Chief Brendan Mitchell