By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
CORNER BROOK — The Qalipu First Nation swearing in ceremony for the elected chief and council for 2021-2024 took place on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 21. It began with an opening song and drumming by the Spirit Bay Drummers.
Keith Golding, Band Manager for Qalipu, emceed the event which got underway following a smudging of the room and an opening prayer. A moment of silence was held for former president of the Corner Brook Aboriginal Women’s Association and former Qalipu staff member, Michelle Matthews.
“She was always a good friend to me, a teacher to my children, and a mentor to us all,” said Golding. “I would like to take a moment to honour her and her memory and for you to think and reflect and give your thoughts and blessings to her and her family.”
Members sworn in were:
• Chief – Brendan Mitchell
• Central Vice Chief – Andrew Barker
• Western Vice Chief – Jennifer Brake
• Port au Port Ward – Jasen Benwah
• Corner Brook Ward – Sharen Dean
• Gander Bay Ward – Calvin Francis
• Flat Bay Ward – Robert White
• Benoit’s Cove Ward – Terri Greene
• Stephenville Ward – Hayward Young
• St. George’s Ward – Ivan J. White
• Glenwood Ward – Francis Skeard
The Exploit’s Ward had no nominations in time for the election and therefore no one was sworn in on council. However, new nominations for the Exploit’s byelection began on Nov. 24 and ended on Dec. 2.
AFN (Assembly of First Nations) Regional Chief P.J. Prosper addressed council about community.
“It’s a spirit that is contained in your heart,” said Prosper. “Much like the drum, when we come together, our hearts together become our nation’s spirit.”
MP Katherine Lockhart delivered regrets on behalf o MP Gudie Hutchings, who was unable to attend.
MHA Scott Reid (St. George’s – Humber) stated that the province looks forward to continuing the positive relationship between Newfoundland and Labrador and Qalipu First Nation.
Aubrey Goldberg, Deputy-Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation brought greetings from the Minister, who was in Ottawa.
“We will be working with Chief Mitchell and the Federal government to hopefully resolve all of these issues to satisfaction.”
Chief Brendan Mitchell said one of the most important issues moving forward is enrollment. The fact that people had and lost their status, families where only certain members have their status, is something that should already have been resolved.
“Avoiding us is not the path to reconciliation. Reconciliation requires sincere effort and respectful engagement. This is where we need to be as a council,” said Mitchell. “We need to bring our Federal government; we need to get the enrollment file finished and we have to get our people back.”