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CORNER BROOK The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band may still be in its infancy, but Chief Brendan Sheppard said progress is being made in meeting the goals set out in its strategic plan.
Sheppard said Monday that discussion on that strategic plan was a big part of the band’s first annual general meeting this past weekend. About 18 members took in the event which was held in Gander.
The strategic plan was developed following consultation sessions held all over the province with band members. Sheppard said “the sessions (were) for members to actually put their information forward as to what they would like to see Qalipu dealing with.”
Out of that process, Sheppard said the plan was developed with a focus on employment, education, training and culture.
Sheppard said throughout the year, which ran from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 the band did well with meeting the goals of the strategic plan. He said it also conducted a review of the three-year plan to see if anything needed to be added or modified for the next couple of years.
“I don’t think we’ll be changing the plan all that much,” he said.
“Hopefully within the next couple of years we will certainly be closing the gap on a lot of the initiatives that we’re working on and just expanding on them. Because that’s the main goal and objective of the organization, to make great strides in the advancement of our people.”
As part of the plan, Sheppard said the band undertook forming partnerships with various companies.
“And when you form partnerships with companies, obviously you’re looking to increase the participation and the involvement in order to create that employment that we talk about and training.”
The meeting also included an update on the band’s economic development strategy, including the Qalipu Economic Development Corporation.
Sheppard said from Qalipu’s perspective it is a shareholder in the corporation and as such the band pulls back a bit from its operation. He said the corporation will be responsible for deciding where it should go.
“There’s a great group of people there. We’ll let them take care of that business,” he said.
Membership in the band continues to be an issue and Sheppard said the application review process is now in its second phase.
Currently the band has 23,898 members. Applications of those people and some 70,000 outstanding ones are being examined to ensure they meet the intended criteria set out in the agreement on the bands’ formation.
Sheppard said letters should go out in November to let people know whether or not their applications will be subject to a review.
“That process is going to take approximately two years to conclude,” said Sheppard. “Well have to wait and see the results at the end of the entire process.
In terms of its financial position the band recorded $11,634,377 in revenue and $11,635,610 in expenses. This resulted in an deficit of $1,233.
Sheppard said that amount is not anything to be concerned about. “What’s there if anything right now is not worth talking about.”