Message from Chief Advisor Kévin Morais

_kevin-moraisDear members of the wonderful Viger Maliseet family,

Six months have already passed since the June 2016 elections. When the Grand Chief informed me of the portfolios to be entrusted to me, I accepted with great enthusiasm responsibility for the following portfolios:

  • education
  • health

In fact, from the very beginning of our mandate, funding for the wind energy project and ongoing construction of the new boat occupied a great amount of our work. As a newly elected representative, I won’t try to hide from you the fact that the beginning of a new mandate can be very unsettling and it is important to take the time that is needed to become thoroughly familiar with the subject, to adapt to existing operations, to understand what has already been accomplished, as well as everything that is yet to be accomplished. It takes a tremendous amount of work before you begin to feel comfortable in the environment, and rest ensured, dear members, I can now confirm that I now feel confident that we will reach our common objectives.

 Finance Portfolio

Since the election and my appointment to finance, I have been keeping a close eye on the cash flow budget of the VMFN, as this budget is presented and analyzed at every meeting of the Council.

In order to improve our governance process, I established a Financial Management Policy which will:

  • Enable long-term planning
  • Help control expenses
  • Provide transparency
  • Protect our cash assets

We also intend to create an inventory system in order to avoid overlapping purchases and efficiently plan replacement of current VMFN assets in a responsible and well-structured manner. This policy is available for consultation on the VMFN website and we intend to use our site fully as a communications tool.

Education Portfolio – Post-Secondary

Students who have membership status and are “full time” students, at the college or university level, are eligible for financial assistance such as: cost of living allowance, school supplies and tuition fees. “Part-time” students are eligible for financial assistance to help pay school supplies and registration. This service is clearly defined under a clear policy (available on the VMFN website) that is reviewed annually and is subject to audit and control by the federal government (INAC).

For further questions or information, please contact Ms. Isabelle Losier – Education and Health Officer, in the VMFN office.

Education Portfolio – First Nations Local Commission (FNLC)

Any registered member or citizen is eligible to receive financial assistance to improve his or her employability or to start a business. However, these funds are limited and fall under the Funding Policy for General and Professional Training.

For any further questions or information, please contact the Employment and Training Counsellor in the VMFN office.

Education Project in conjunction with the First Nations Education Council (FNEC)

Under a joint project being conducted in co-operation with the FNEC, last year you received a Maliseet language lexicon and you will soon receive the CD audio version of the same lexicon which will help you to learn the pronunciation of a certain number of words in the Maliseet language. This is an important step towards reappropriation of our language and it is a process which is very close to our hearts: it is the beginning of a journey which will take us back to our origins which is why we must work together to find the best way that will allow all those who are interested to learn our original language in order to transmit it to future generations. I know you think this is a gigantic challenge! Well, I would like to answer you by saying…. that it is a wonderful challenge which we can fulfill together!  If you have any suggestions, I would be pleased to hear them.

Health Portfolio

It is important to point out that the VMFN has no choice over the list of drugs or health care services that are reimbursed. This is Canada-wide system which is imposed on us, but rest assured that we can help you when it is time to submit your claims or appeal a decision to Health Canada (under the First Nations and Inuit Non-Insured Health Benefits – NIHB program).

For any other questions or information, please contact Ms. Isabelle Losier – Education and Health Officer, in the VMFN office.

During the last six months, as an elected official:

  • I sat, as a member of the VMFN on the Cacouna industrial park and port Committee, which falls under the Maritime Strategy, under the minister responsible for Maritime Affairs of the government of Quebec.
  • I represented the interests of the VMFN during an event organized as part of the Rivière-du-Loup Carrefour maritime Project: this project involves the construction of a new maritime station for the St-Siméon/Rivière-du-Loup ferry, in which the VMFN will have office space in order to promote the Viger Maliseet culture.
  • I also took part in the negotiations for the acquisition by the VMFN of 230, rue de la Grève, in Cacouna.

maisonMy work plan for the upcoming months will focus mainly on the cleaning-up of our finances. We will also devote our efforts to the creation in 2017 of a “Donation, Grant, and Sponsorship Policy” and to the strict usage of the community distribution fund, in order, among other things, to provide assistance to the most needy members. It will also be important to review the post-secondary and FNLC policies, to put pressure on the various managers in order to get the maximum benefit from the funds available in the different sectors of activity for which I am responsible and, especially, for the most important reason of all, so that you, dear members, may benefit from all the services to which you are entitled.

I am available to answer your questions and to listen to your suggestion and comments. You can contact me at the following numbers:
Administrative office: 418 860-2393 or cellphone: 418 894-7892.

I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Kévin Morais
Chief Advisor