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.
Chief Brendan Mitchell