May 4, 2017, Steady Brook, NL—Qalipu First Nation and Parks Canada today reaffirmed their longstanding partnership and shared commitment to natural and cultural heritage conservation and education with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Following the signing, the partners announced an exciting initiative to be co-hosted by the Qalipu Cultural Foundation and Parks Canada this summer. The Gros Morne Indigenous Cultural Festival will take place on August 4-6, 2017 in Cow Head, NL at the Shallow Bay day use area.
Parks Canada representatives Geoff Hancock, Superintendent (Western Field Unit) and Bill Brake, Superintendent (Eastern Field Unit), along with Sherry Dean, Chair of the Qalipu Cultural Foundation and Qalipu Chief, Brendan Mitchell, were on hand at Qalipu First Nation’s inaugural Indigenous Tourism Forum to announce the event to some fifty indigenous tourism operators, delegates and special guests.
Sherry Dean, Chairperson of the Qalipu Cultural Foundation shared details about the Gros Morne Indigenous Cultural Festival. She said, “The Festival will focus on teachings, cultural celebration and experiences set in the beautiful Gros Morne National Park. On day one of the Festival, you will have an opportunity to experience firsthand some Indigenous practices and traditions, as well as the beliefs and customs guiding them. We’ll discover things like how to prepare for a sweat lodge, and what to expect when you get there. Visitors will also learn some dance steps, music, and etiquette when attending a powwow. We are really excited to share in this unique celebration with Parks Canada.”
Dean went on to say that the second day of the Festival would be organized as a mini-powwow event; a day of ceremony and celebration as Indigenous elders and performers from the island of Newfoundland, Labrador as well as Atlantic Canada share their culture through prayer, song, dance and drumming. On the third and final day of the Festival, park staff and Indigenous partners will work together to deliver interpretive programs centred on a shared vision of ecological conservation and connecting with nature.
Superintendent Geoffrey Hancock spoke to the value Parks Canada places on working with Indigenous groups and communities saying, “Parks Canada recognizes the incredible contribution Indigenous communities have made and continue to make to the social and cultural fabric of our country. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have worked with our Indigenous partners to build a culture of mutual respect and co-operation which has been formally recognized with the signing of this MOU. This year, we are especially proud to be working with Qalipu First Nation on an event to be held in Gros Morne National Park that will celebrate the diversity and vitality of Indigenous cultures in our province as part of the celebrations taking place to underscore Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.”
The Tourism Forum, and the upcoming Indigenous Cultural Festival announced today, are important markers of progress towards the implementation of the Band’s Tourism Strategy and Implementation Plan.
In 2016, the Qalipu First Nation developed a comprehensive Tourism Strategy together with a Five-Year Implementation Plan. This Tourism Strategy, branded as Experience Qalipu, aligns its objectives with the economic evolution of Qalipu First Nation. It is designed to contribute in a coordinated and synergistic way to on-going community capacity building, to offer new opportunities for personal and business growth and to reinforce the credibility and profile of the Band to tourism customers and a broad range of potential partners.
For more information about the festival please contact Mitch Blanchard, Qalipu Resource Coordinator at 634-8046
Communications Officer Qalipu First Nation