Phyllis Cooper Feature Image

Community Leaders: Phyllis Cooper

Phyllis Cooper is an Elder from Stephenville. She’s a talented Silver Feather Artist, a dedicated volunteer with the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network, and is a community member well known for living the grandfather teachings of Respect, Honesty, Humility, Courage, Truth Wisdom and Love; the pillars of walking a good path.

At the Table with Terry

Phyllis was nominated for the Community Leaders segment of the Maw-pemita’jik Qalipu’k newsletter by Terry Muise. Terry and I sat down for a cup of tea and a chat about the nomination. He had many kind words for his dear friend Phyllis.

“Phyllis is a real sweetheart,” he said, “she is what I would call a true Elder. She walks the talk; she lives the seven grandfather teachings.”

Terry added that Phyllis swears by the barter system and explained how important this is to uphold the culture.

“Phyllis knows that trading allows us to honour the unique gifts and talents of all people. We each trade what we have to offer; we share the gifts creator has given us.” He said.

Terry’s granddaughter, Trinity Lee, has been sitting at the table listening to her grandfather share why he’s nominated Phyllis and decides to speak up.

“I remember Phyllis.”

Trinity attended gatherings with Phyllis as one of the youth participants with NAWN’s project Elders and Youth Breaking the Silence on Mental Health. Phyllis is one of the guiding Elders with that project and Terry noted she is known for being great with children.

stepehenville groupWhen I asked Trinity what stands out in her memory about Phyllis, she thought for a moment and said, “She was silent but outgoing at the same time.”

Trinity explained that Phyllis was always there for you, participating fully in whatever was going on, but not making a fuss about herself or anything else.

You can tell Terry is proud of his granddaughter’s observation of Phyllis, and we share a knowing look about our hope for the youth who will lead tomorrow. Before we finish our chat, Terry suggested I speak with Candace Simon to get more details about Phyllis.

Candace Cannot Say Enough

Phyllis Cooper and Christian Tourout“I’ve known Phyllis since I was little, I used to hang out with her kids. Phyllis was an awesome mom.”

This mom next door would be a constant and positive presence in Candaces Simon’s life.

Candace shared, “I got involved in the Indigenous movement in Newfoundland about twenty years ago and Phyllis has been on the scene a lot longer than that. She also spent many years in Nunavut helping women in crisis, she must have seen so much. Her heart is huge.”

Fairness and justice are important to Phyllis, Candace shared.

She said, “She doesn’t conform to anything or anyone. She will defend the underdog and will speak on behalf of someone who doesn’t have a voice. There are no backdoors with her, either. She is honest, courageous and so kind. A truly genuine person.”

Candace also noted that Phyllis is a strong woman and Elder who knows the land.

Phyllis and Life on the Land

Phyllis Cooper fishingPhyllis shared some details about her love of the land and how important it is to pass this appreciation on to the next generation. She’s a mother of five, grandmother of ten, and great-grandmother of three and Phyllis says she enjoys sharing nature with them.

“I’m teaching my grandchildren how to salmon fish. My granddaughter Kaleigh got her first salmon a few years ago while I took her fishing. She was over the moon! Shilo is interested in going moose hunting with me next month. We have six granddaughters and four grandsons, and the girls love to be out in nature as much as the boys. I think it’s a very healthy lifestyle that keeps them grounded.”

Of all the outdoor pursuits, fishing is Phyllis’ favourite.

“Fishing is my passion; I find it very relaxing. When I’m at the cabin I go trout fishing every night, I bring the fish back to some elders I know who can’t get out fishing anymore but love to eat them. My grandchildren love to trout fish also, they catch them for our friends who are so thankful for them. We also pick berries to freeze for winter, grow a few of our own veggies. I want my grandchildren to know the old ways, to live off what the creator provided for us, to learn to share with others and care about each other. I think if you do that, you will be a much happier person and be more content with your life.”

Thank you for your contribution to our community, Phyllis. Keep up the great work.

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Qalipu Covid Relief Fund

In a recent meeting of Council, $75,000 were set aside for the providing support to community based Indigenous groups to better support members of the Qalipu First Nation during this difficult time.

The Qalipu COVID Relief Funds will provide Indigenous groups on the island of Newfoundland with a means to help Qalipu members with COVID-19 initiatives. The fund will allocate a maximum of $7,500 per organization for initiatives that will directly benefit the health and well being of vulnerable populations within our membership in this difficult time.

These funds provide a mechanism for grassroots Indigenous organizations on the ground in their communities to target and support vulnerable populations by aiding:

  1. mental health and wellness programs,
  2. personal protective equipment,
  3. personal hygiene products,
  4. food and
  5. vulnerable population essential transportation.

Qalipu First Nation is currently accepting proposals, from organizations interested in receiving up to $7,500 per funding year in grant funding from the Qalipu COVID Relief Fund for projects that are up to 6 months in duration. Funding is limited so interested groups are encouraged to apply early.

The proposal must be submitted by an eligible organization. To qualify your organization must be an established Indigenous organization on the island of Newfoundland, in good standing with the provincial Registry of Companies, and servicing the needs of the members of the Qalipu First Nation in their area.

Proposal Assessment
Proposals will be assessed on the following criteria to determine overall quality and merit.

1. Objectives
What is the purpose of the project? Organizations will need to clearly identify the goal of the project and provide a rationale as to how it will address the identified need highlighted above.

2. Vulnerable Populations
How will projects benefit seniors, youth, or other vulnerable populations in our communities?

3. Cost effectiveness
A budget outlining the project costs must accompany the proposal which supports the project activities and does not exceed the maximum allowed.

The proposal for funding must be received no later than Friday, August 21st, at 12:00 pm NST via mail or email.

Apply by email

Apply by Mail
Qalipu COVID Relief Fund
3 Church Street
Corner Brook, NL A2H 2Z4

Contact us
If you require any further information please feel free to contact Keith Goulding, Band Manager at or via telephone (709) 634-1147.

Swearing in of Salome Barker

Youth Representative Salome Barker Sworn In at Recent Meeting of Council

A Council meeting was held in Corner Brook on Thursday, July 23. Pictured here, new Youth Representative Salome Barker signs the oath of office with Chief Brendan Mitchell and Elder Odelle Pike looking on.

Salome noted,

“I’m very honoured and privileged to have a seat on the Qalipu Council as a youth councillor. I’m excited to bring so many Indigenous youths voices to the table and continue to uplift their voices and ideas. There are countless Mi’kmaq youth across the province who are doing tremendous work in cultural revitalization, supporting their communities and making positive change for future generations to come. I do believe that Qalipu youth are the future of Qalipu First Nation and it’s incredibly important to hear us and continue to make room for our voices. I know that I have the support from Mi’kmaq youth within our youth network and that they will be by my side throughout this journey. I’m looking forward to this new position and will have the youth as my top priority. Thank you for this opportunity. Msit No’kmaq.”

The Youth designed their own election code in which the responsibilities of the Youth Representative, elected for a one-year term, are as follows:

  • Form and maintain a Youth Advisory Network.
  • Lead the planning activities for the Youth Gathering.
  • Represent the youth voice at the Qalipu First Nation Band Council.
  • Carry forward recommendations to the Qalipu First Nation Band Council that arise from the annual Youth Gathering.
  • Attend meetings of the Qalipu First Nation Band Council (estimated at six meetings per year).
  • Report back to the Youth Advisory Network after Qalipu First Nation Band Council meetings.
  • Establish and maintain a social media space for the Youth Advisory Network.
  • Serve as an ambassador of Qalipu’s Youth Members.
  • Be open-minded and listen to other ideas.
  • Be respectful.
  • Engage Indigenous youth.
  • Represent the Qalipu First Nation at events where required.
  • Facilitate discussions among the Youth Advisory Network to generate ideas, projects, and programs.
  • Be active in local community groups.
  • Get involved with local schools and engage youth at that level.

The youth election held at the inaugural Mawita’jik Maljewe’jk (youth gathering) last fall included the election of an Alternate Youth Representative to share the duties of the role or step up in the absence of the elected representative. Following the resignation of Youth Representative Jessica Saunders in June, Alternate Youth Representative Salome Barker will now take the youth seat on Council.

Salome will hold the seat until the next youth gathering which is scheduled to take place again later in the fall if gatherings are permitted.

businessman working on Desk office business financial accounting calculate, Graph analysis

QFN 2019-2020 Audited Financial Statements Now Available

The consolidated financial statements linked below represent all the Band activity during the last fiscal year including the Qalipu Development Corporation, Mi’kmaq Commercial Fisheries, Qalipu Project Support Services, Qalipu Marine Holdings and Qalipu Management Services. These statements will be presented in detail at the upcoming Annual General Assembly on September 13 in Corner Brook, location to be announced. Our auditor and Director of Finance will be on hand to present the statements and answer questions at that time. You may also e-mail the Director of Finance directly at

Please click here to view the Audited Financial Statements for the 2019-2020 Year

A newspaper on a wooden desk - Press Release

New Financial Certification for Qalipu First Nation

Qalipu First Nation is excited to share news regarding a certification that the Band has been working toward for the past two years. On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, the Qalipu First Nation was awarded the Financial Management System (FMS) Certificate through the First Nation Financial Management Board (FNFMB). This certification demonstrates strong governance and finance practices and will allow for greater flexibility for the First Nation in creating its plan for the future.

Band Chief Brendan Mitchell noted that FMS certification is based on international finance and governance standards and is an accomplishment of which all Band members can be proud.

“We have worked hard to develop the policies and procedures that demonstrate financial responsibility, transparency and accountability worthy of this rigorous certification process. Our membership can take comfort in knowing Band funds are responsibly managed and be proud of working together in a good way as we plan for our future.”

Director of Finance Jodie Wells said that while it was a lengthy process to obtain the certification, it was well worth the effort and she is proud of the work of the Qalipu team including the Finance and Audit Standing Committee who worked with her every step of the way.

“We have worked hard as a team to develop new policies and procedures as well as adjust and try again as we underwent testing by the FNFMB. I’m so proud of the work we have done. Our day-to-day operations are smoother than ever, and we have the ability to plan and manage long-term strategic projects.”

For more information about the FMFMB and certification for First Nations, please visit ( .

Pow Wow Pitch

2020 Pow Wow Pitch competition, presented by RBC

In celebration of Indigenous entrepreneurship and empowerment across Canada, Pow Wow Pitch is pleased to announce the launch of its 2020 Pow Wow Pitch competition, presented by RBC. Running from June 22, 2020 through October 20, 2020, Pow Wow Pitch 2020 will offer Indigenous entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete in a virtual, three round pitching contest, with winners awarded prizes up to $10 000.

In partnership with RBC, Shopify, Canada Post, BDC and NACCA, Pow Wow Pitch 2020 will be hosted virtually for the first time, giving entrepreneurs nationwide the opportunity to “pitch” their business idea via video submission starting June 21, 2020. 125 finalists will be selected and will work one-on-one with a business mentor before pitching their ideas via Facebook Live from September 21 to 25, 2020. From there, the Top 25 will pitch a second time with the hopes of becoming one of 3 national winners or 13 provincial winners selected on October 20, 2020.

Launched in 2015, Pow Wow Pitch was first founded by social entrepreneur Sunshine Tenasco with the aim of empowering and elevating other Indigenous entrepreneurs through mentorship, exposure, and start-up funding. Held annually each year during the Summer Solstice Festival in Ottawa, the competition has awarded prizes to over 20 entrepreneurs over the past six years, ranging from photography businesses to soap producers.

“Good business and trade have always been a part of Indigenous ways. We dealt with fairness and we knew that honesty, love for community, and strong relationships are the way we all prosper. It’s time to show the world what ‘good trade’ means,” says Sunshine Tenasco

“Indigenous businesses will play a huge role in Canada’s economic recovery, but this can only be achieved if Canada works in partnership with Indigenous nations toward full economic reconciliation,” says Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “We are proud to partner with Pow Wow Pitch, a First Nations-owned enterprise, shaping Canada’s future and providing a supportive, collaborative and empowering environment for Indigenous Entrepreneurs.”

The call for video submissions for Pow Wow Pitch opened Sunday, June 21, 2020. Details and rules of the competition can be found at:

About Pow Wow Pitch
Founded in 2015 by Sunshine Tenasco, who was inspired to pay it forward and give Indigenous people the same drive and inspiration she felt when she pitched her business idea on the Dragons’ Den. Pow Wow Pitch supports Indigenous Entrepreneurs through micro start-up cash and mentorship while providing a safe, supportive, collaborative and empowering environment that addresses the challenges of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

About RBC Indigenous Financial Services Group
For more than 100 years, RBC has been building strong relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. We are committed to serving Indigenous governments, communities, organizations, businesses and individuals by creating opportunities for sustainable economic development through access to banking and capital, community and social development, employment, education and training and procurement. RBC also provides donations and grants that support Indigenous interests. More information is available at:

Kellie Kerpan

Community Leaders: Kellie Kerpan

Kellie Kerpan is a community leader from Badger who was nominated for this segment by a number of people. This demonstrates that Kellie is truly a leader and is making a difference in her community. Upon asking Kellie to take part in this segment she said she was surprised and humbled to be nominated, “I do not see myself as any different or stand out any more than my neighbor.  I have a passion for bettering and helping my people.”

For Kellie, being L’nu is her core identity and has been from a very young age. “I have been so fortunate that our family has never hidden who we are as L’nu people.  Though people attempted to shame them for being L’nu, they stood proud of their heritage and genealogy,” she explained.

This is particularly important to Kellie because her grandfather, John Paul was born and raised in a time where being a part of any tribe of Indigenous people was considered a bad thing, she explained, “my grandfather and other relatives often spoke of the racism and poor attitudes towards the Indigenous people that were present in Badger in their time.  They were often treated as servants, not allowed to other children’s birthday parties or gatherings.  Often, they were shunned from jobs with the “company” if it were known you were Mi’Kmaw.”

Kellie is a very active member of the community she sits on the executive of the cultural group, Na’taqamtug and she has coordinated and facilitated a number of cultural activities in her community. “I am connected through the people, my crafting, and most importantly the land and water,” she said. The land and the water are healing for her and you can often find her walking the shorelines of in the forest wondering about our ancestors and the stories that have been passed down. “It is in those times, I know I am connected, and they can hear me and my prayers,” she said. Kellie describes herself as a spiritual person, partaking in sweats when available, making offerings, smudging, sharing knowledge and yearning to be connected to others and to learn from them.

Kellie lives her life in honor of her ancestors and she tries “to effect positive change and opportunities for all Indigenous people,” she said, “ I live each day to try to be better for my child, to teach him things that were taught to me, to learn new things, to listen to the Elders, take the time to sit and appreciate them and all they have been through.  Be kind, be thoughtful, be loving, to forgive and to share what you have, even if you do not want to.”

It was in 2015 when Kellie returned to Badger after living away for many years in Alberta and British Columbia when she felt a huge void in culture and cultural activities for her son. During a drum making event in Badger facilitated by Qalipu Kellie, along with Colleen Paul, held a discussion with Michelle Matthews and it was decided that they would start a group in Badger. The group has since been a huge success and something that many community members had been longing for and needing.

Kellie has brought many activities to the community, oftentimes donating her personal supplies so these activities could happen. The community has seen drum making, moccasin, ribbon skirt/shirt classes, beading, dreamcatchers, birch bark baskets, porcupine quillwork, jewelry making and delivering NIPD events, harvesting and teaching others how to prep and tan and smoke a moose hide for craft use, and many other events, many of which were taught by Kellie herself. She has also facilitated a land-based learning camp with other partners, snowshoe making, mitten making, a youth, and elder group, organizing and starting and indigenous youth dance group, and going to local schools or other organizations to share culture and activities. She has also developed a program where the youth and Elders come together for an annual harvest of various foods in late summer/early fall. The foods are collected, preserved, and then dispersed to Elders and those in need in the community.

This all started in Badger when Kellie saw a need and worked hard herself to fill this cultural gap in the community that many people were longing to have filled for a long time. It is because of her son and her longing to share culture with him that really inspired Kellie to start hosting community events. “It is extremely important to me that my son knows the importance of being connected to others, sharing and caring, and the joy of doing for others that the creator brings you.  Throughout the year, we will make cookies, meals or crafts and distribute them to various members in our town.  Throughout this pandemic, I have realized more than ever the power of physical sharing and connections.  A week into the pandemic, Jaxon asked me about the Elders and youth and how I thought they were doing.  It was at that time, I realized just how much we missed them all and needed them.  Jaxon and I have made bread (over 20 loaves each week), cookies, various meals, and cold plates and delivered them to the Elders in town every Sunday afternoon. We have also put together kits for youth and delivered them. It gives us the connection we need to maintain and in turn gives the Elders a little bit of company and a good meal, even if it is from a distance and a short time,” Kellie said.

When asked about her vision for the future of Qalipu First Nation, Kellie explained her thoughts saying that the band needs to heal. Kellie said, “We have generations of trauma that need to be acknowledged and addressed. Acknowledging the damaging impacts of trauma on health while having great faith in the healing powers of resilience and cultural, spiritual, and traditional knowledge and medicine is needed.  We need a cohesive band of people who want what is best for all.  Our band is made up of wonderful members who have lots to contribute to programs and projects, we need to utilize their expertise and consult.  It is important that we honor our Elders and youth.  We need to do better for them.  Our Elders are our link to the past and the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. It is imperative that we bring our people back to the land.  The land is where the true organic healing happens. As a young band, we have done some amazing work, but we have much work left to do.”
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Digital Engagement Sessions – Comprehensive Community Plan

Join Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP) Coordinator Samantha Gardiner to discuss your vision and dreams for the future of Qalipu First Nation. The creation of a CCP will set the direction for QFN over the next 50 years, so dream big, what do you want to see happen, what services would you like to see added or improved, what needs do you have that are not being met, how can Qalipu First Nation grow and fill gaps in our communities by meeting the needs of all members? Your participation in the creation of this plan is the most important aspect of the CCP, created by the people.

Please register for one of our first two digital sessions here