As we approach our Annual General Assembly, coming up this weekend on September 15th in Corner Brook and on September 29th in Grand Falls-Windsor, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and the accomplishments of our Nation. It brings me great pride to report on some of this good work being done by our Council, staff, committees and community leaders to move us forward together, for a better tomorrow.
In October 2018, our new Council was elected, and I am excited about the active participation that our Councilors are demonstrating in our Ward communities, and the progress made during the past several months.
For the first time, the Annual General Assembly (AGA) is being held in both central and western regions as a means of facilitating greater direct participation by our members. Further, also for the first time, the AGA will be live-streamed and available to those who can’t attend the AGA in person.
At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank our Council members for their support and collaboration in moving Qalipu forward in a positive way on behalf of our members.
On July 26, 2018 (St. Anne’s Day), Qalipu First Nation was accepted into the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). This was a significant and important move for us as we now take our rightful place with other First Nations in Canada. Membership in this national group, representing some 900,000 First Nation citizens in Canada, signifies acceptance and acknowledgment for the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland. This represents a significant step forward in our own journey towards reconciliation. Qalipu continues to participate in all major events hosted by the AFN.
In April 2019, Qalipu became a member of the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) all Chiefs Secretariat. This policy and advocacy body represents more than thirty First Nation communities in Atlantic Canada and Gaspe region of Quebec. The APC plays an important role in economic development activities in support of all Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Innu communities across the Atlantic Region.
Qalipu has been working with the APC in areas of Education, Community Development and Natural Resources and looks forward to new ways of collaborating and building strength as a united First Nation peoples. Our wish at Qalipu First Nation is to work collaboratively with other Chiefs and Indigenous communities across Atlantic Canada in an effort to work to build a better tomorrow for all Mi’kmaq.
Also in this past fiscal year, Qalipu entered into a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) which will see both parties collaborate on the delivery of new educational pathways, as well as community and business development initiatives. Throughout the term of the MOU the organizations will explore educational opportunities which will allow students to complete high school and transition into post-secondary education; build professional capacity in educational programming in health sciences, tourism, business development and environmental stewardship; and, explore mutually beneficially partnerships on applied research and innovation that lead to sustainable community and business development.
Qalipu was recently recognized as a committed supporter of Reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces and received the Special Award for support to the Reserve Force (Black Bear Program) on May 9, 2019, during a formal ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. I am proud of the commitment that Qalipu has made to promote and encourage our youth to participate in this worthwhile program. This past summer a total of eleven youth enrolled in the Black Bear Program. Nine successfully completed the program, seven of whom were members of the Qalipu First Nation.
On March 14, 2019, Qalipu signed a ten-year grant funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada. The agreement marks a significant departure from annually allocated funds that were often lacking in flexibility and autonomy for the Band and marks a new opportunity for creating a shared vision for the future with the members it represents. The new comprehensive funding agreement will allow the Band to design its own programs, carry money forward from year to year, and focus on creating a vision for the future that is driven by the people and communities it represents. In conjunction with the ten-year grant funding agreement, Qalipu will be developing a Comprehensive Community Plan. We look forward to the active engagement of our membership in developing a long-term plan for our future.
Early in 2019, Qalipu staff and Councilors traveled around the island to deliver information sessions regarding the many programs services and benefits that are available through the Band, and to familiarize new members about what it means to belong to the Qalipu First Nation. In total, eleven sessions were hosted. Sessions were well attended by our members who were provided with an information guide that outlined the many programs available through the Band. The Membership Information Guide is available at our offices and on our website and is an excellent resource for all Band members.
On November 15, 2018, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians entered into exploratory discussions to “…address outstanding concerns regarding members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, RCMP and FNI members or members of other Mi’kmaq organizations who were named in the 2008 agreement and denied Founding Membership.” Discussions began in December 2018 and will continue as we strive to finalize membership.
In the coming year, you will experience the same high level of engagement in our communities by our Council. The focus will continue to be directed toward completing the many initiatives that have been identified in our strategic plan and to new initiatives that will be brought forward by our community members. We endeavour to work together in peace, harmony, and unity with our member communities as we strive to build a better tomorrow for our people and our Nation.
Chief Brendan Mitchell