Chief Brendan Mitchell of the Qalipu First Nation shares well wishes for the holiday season and talks about projects that will continue to be a priority in the New Year including the pursuit of fishing access, housing programs and the urban reserve.
Some Mi’kmaq veterans lost their Indian Status cards during the Qalipu enrolment process, often due to the inability to show community connection because they were stationed away from home. Qalipu has been working with the federal government to resolve this issue and get those veterans back their status, but it has not been easy or fast! While “social media warriors” cause harm with misinformation and disrespect, Chief Mitchell weighs in with some answers.
Tomorrow, November 11, is Remembrance Day across Canada and in our Communities.
It’s the day we acknowledge and show gratitude for the bravery and sacrifice of those who served their country and those who continue to serve our country and our communities today.
Many made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars and other conflicts. Their sacrifice has allowed us to experience the safety and freedoms we have today.
This Remembrance Day will be different from that of previous years due to the absence or scaling down of Remembrance Day services caused by our dealing with the reality of COVID-19.
Let us however take time tomorrow to reflect and remember in our own way the contributions made by Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Veterans and those currently in service. Take time to observe your own moment of silence in their honour. We pray to the Creator to protect them.
Act of Remembrance
They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the Sun
And in the morning
We shall remember them.
On behalf of Qalipu Council, our Executive Committee, and staff, I welcome you to our Annual General Assembly (AGA) 2020. Our approach to conducting our AGA this year differs from past years in that a virtual meeting, made available through live streaming, will allow a greater number of our members to view and participate in the AGA.
In recent months, there have been many precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has changed the way we interact, communicate, work, and socialize. Qalipu First Nation continues to deliver beneficial programs and services to its membership. While it’s not business as usual, we have been able to maintain a satisfactory level of service. I wish to take this opportunity to thank our Council and staff for their dedication and commitment in support of our members during this time. Going forward in dealing with COVID-19, we will continue to take necessary precautions to protect our staff and members. I encourage everyone to take this situation very seriously whether at home or at work by following prescribed measures to protect you and your family.
Qalipu First Nation was able to secure funding for our membership to offset some of the negative impacts of COVID-19. Funding program opportunities to date total $2,228,272 consisting of $52,975 COVID-19 Support Fund, $678,311 from a Community Emergency Response Fund for Emergency and Off Reserve and $1,496,987 from Canada’s Economic Response Plan for Post Secondary Student Support. In addition to Government of Canada’s support, Qalipu recognized the need to contribute an additional $266,745 to provide further support.
We are now coming to the end of year two of the three-year term of this Council. I wish to thank Councill members for their continued support and collaboration in advancing Qalipu on behalf of our members. Progress and successes have been achieved in many areas during the past year. A major accomplishment has been certification with the First Nations Financial Management Board. This certification involved a significant effort by staff and Council to enable Qalipu to become the fourth First Nation Band in Atlantic Canada to achieve this distinction. Certification with the First Nations Financial Management Board will ensure that Qalipu has the financial independence needed to grow as a Nation.
First Nations Financial Management Board certification was an integral step in the path towards ten- year grant funding which was introduced in 2019. The funding agreement marks a significant departure from our previous annual allocation of funds. The new ten-year funding arrangement allows Qalipu to tailor its own programs, carry money forward from year to year and focus on a vision for the future that is driven by people and communities. In conjunction with the ten-year grant funding arrangement, Qalipu is developing a Comprehensive Community Plan.
Qalipu continues to be an active member of the Assembly of First Nations and the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. Membership in these organizations was achieved July 2018 and April 2019 respectively. During November 2019, senior representatives of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council visited Qalipu First Nation for the first time. This visit was a significant opportunity to establish a positive relationship with the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada. Grand Council representatives included Grand Chief Norman Sylliboy, Grand Keptin Antle Denny, Keptin Stephen Augustine and Keptin Chief Mi’sel Joe.
Qalipu First Nation, in conjunction with its consultant, has been engaged in developing an updated Strategic Plan. Discussions were conducted with Council, staff, and members through community engagement sessions. This plan, which has a ten-year outlook, will be finalized in the third quarter of this year. I thank everyone who participated in this important initiative.
This past summer saw the cancellation of many significant cultural events here in Newfoundland, in Atlantic Canada and throughout Canada. Our staff at Qalipu compensated for the loss of in-person gatherings by using a virtual approach made possible through technology to share cultural initiatives. Staff, community members and community organizations collaborated to share cultural information and teachings to our broader membership.
Enrolment in Qalipu First Nation continues to be an item of concern for Council. On November 15, 2018, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians agreed to enter into exploratory discussions to address outstanding concerns regarding members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, RCMP and FNI members or members of other organizations named in the 2008 Agreement in Principle and who were denied membership in Qalipu. Despite discussions beginning in earnest during December 2018, we are yet to finalize agreements to allow these groups membership in Qalipu. The veterans file has advanced positively, and discussions have been favourable as we now near finalization of an Agreement. Regarding those affiliated with the FNI, discussions are ongoing with Canada and an Agreement will be forthcoming. Eventually, Qalipu members will become engaged in a ratification process to enable executing any new Agreements with the Government of Canada regarding enrolment.
Other initiatives for which discussions are ongoing include the establishment of an urban reserve and development of a Mi’kmaq language program at Qalipu.
In the coming year, we expect to see significant initiatives come to fruition. Qalipu members will experience a high level of community engagement by our Council as we endeavor to create a better tomorrow for our people and our Nation. Let’s commit to working together in peace, harmony and unity as we move forward.
Chief Brendan Mitchell
I want to make you all aware that Qalipu First Nation has received financial support through the COVID-19 support fund for Indigenous Communities and to ask for your feedback.
Please join our Facebook Watch Party this coming Thursday, May 21st., at 7:30 PM when I’ll chat with Band Manager Keith Goulding. Together, we’ll explain the fund and ask our members for input on how we allocate this support to our communities in the best way possible.
You can participate in a live discussion at that time, and we encourage you to send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
I pray that you all are doing well and staying safe.
Chief Brendan Mitchell
On behalf of everyone at Qalipu, I extend our sincere condolences to Ward Councilor Odelle Pike on the passing of her brother Pat Muise who left us for the spirit world yesterday. Over the past few years, I’ve been around Pat on many occasions and always appreciated his honesty and a great sense of humour.
He will be missed by all of us.
I realize that during this time of COVID- 19 there won’t be an opportunity for a funeral service. This is another sad impact of this pandemic which is affecting all families who deal with the loss of a loved one during these trying times.
Our prayers are with you and your family at this time.
Let us take a moment to look back on this story from Qalipu’s newsletter of April 2016 in which Pat shares some of his story, and we see his good heart shining through.
Chief Brendan Mitchell
While it has been a long week, perhaps the heavy snowfall this morning will provide some of you with a healthy way to get some fresh air while practicing the concepts of physical distancing. I hope that all of you are finding ways to be peaceful and happy in our time at home in self-isolation.
Each day, we learn of the increasing number of COVID cases in Newfoundland. I want to remind you all that we must be careful. There are some important tips that we should all be following, and I hope that we are each doing our best. Remember, the best way to prevent the spread of infections is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your face; when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and if you can, stay home.
Many of you have heard about a funding allocation for First Nation communities. We have been at the table for many discussions regarding this funding however, it has largely been allocated for reserve communities. We continue to work with our partners in Indigenous Services Canada to find ways to access funds and resources to support our membership.
We are as well looking at existing programs and services to see if we can find any ways to provide some assistance to members at this time of need, but we do not anticipate government support at this time.
I would like to remind you all that our staff and Council continue to work from home, to maintain the service and programs on which we rely. I would like to thank our staff for their professionalism and adaptability during this difficult time, and I look forward to seeing what they’ve been working on with new video programs to help us all feel more connected while learning new things. Programming begins on our Facebook page next week.
Take care, everyone.
Chief Brendan Mitchell
Greetings from my living room to yours!
It has been quite a week at Qalipu First Nation, and around the world. As details came to us about the COVID-19 pandemic, we responded accordingly. First, we postponed all scheduled public events and restricted staff travel. Then we took the additional step of closing our offices to outside traffic, we shut down the community rooms and closed our Council meeting. Finally, before the week was out, we found ourselves equipping staff to work from home, and making plans to continue the delivery of programs and services upon which our members rely.
We are still reeling from these changes, the stripping down of many of our relied upon routines, activities and social living.
The truth is, we are experiencing an unprecedented moment in our shared history and change can be difficult. However, the decisions we are making today demonstrate that we are willing to put the health of our communities above all else, and that is something of which we can all be proud.
I hope that we can stay connected in the weeks ahead before things return to normal. I encourage you to send in pictures and news of how you are finding ways of enjoying this time off the beaten path. We will share them in our weekly newsletter to help us all feel a little more connected and perhaps even inspired.
Chief Brendan Mitchell
On behalf of our Council and staff, I wish to extend to everyone a very Merry Christmas and share my hope for a New Year that brings happiness, good health, prosperity and success to all.
This Christmas, may your homes be filled with the true warmth and spirit of the season; good times spent with family and friends, good food, nice music and special moments that will create beautiful memories with loved ones.
Wli Nuelewi aq Pusu’l Puna’ne
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Chief Brendan Mitchell