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.
Chief Brendan Mitchell