Message from Chief Advisor Pierre Jennis
Dear Maliseet members, Qey Qey,
It gives me great pleasure to provide you with this report on our accomplishments since the election in June 2016. After the election, mandates were assigned to each chief advisor by Grand Chief, Jacques Tremblay, including the directives and the goals targeted. I was given the mandates of commercial fisheries and economic development and I will also be expected to contribute to the separation of politics and administration as well as the elimination of all conflicts of interest. Here is a brief summary of our accomplishments in the past few months.
My first challenge was to resume the files in both departments; I went to work immediately. I had to resume my work in the fisheries department without having the relevant reference documents, which we only received recently. Let me reassure you that thanks to tough negotiations with our buyers and the warming-up of our relationships with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FOC), our independent earnings in the fisheries sector have increased significantly. It was very important to re-establish contact and a climate of trust with FOC, because of the role they play in the issue of quotas and subsidies that we are awarded; we can now look forward with greater optimism towards a more prosperous future.
Some of the agreements were renegotiated in order to increase our earnings; for example, we gained significant increases in the turbot fisheries through a 25% increase in our quota, which translated into additional profits following a year-long break. We reactivated sea cucumber fishing, where we hired members of the Maliseet Nation as subcontractors and crew members, while working in co-operation with a Québec company, who will purchase our resource. Earnings from this exploratory fishing are promising, even though we were not able to fill our complete fishing quota because of the difficult climate condition. However, a change in the operation calendar for next year should improve the situation. The construction of our new multifunction fishing boat has been seriously delayed; we are expecting delivery by the end of December and operations should begin next season. We are keeping a close watch on the project calendar and the builder has been providing very good co-operation.
Next year we will have our new boat, which will provide more employment for our members. There is a form that you must fill out if you are interested in working in fisheries. Many different jobs are available, not only in fishing, but also in fish processing plants and fish retails. The jobs are well paid and we are currently updating the salary scales in the fishing sector in order to ensure fairness and to correct any situations that have been a source of prejudice. We are currently in the process of hiring a fisheries coordinator; we have received applications and we will seek to fill this position as quickly as possible. On November 18, we hired a Community and Economic Development Coordinator who will commence her functions shortly in order to contribute to our collective economic development via TOKU – our management company. One of the main priorities will be to propose a solution to ensure continuation of the service-station project on the Whithworth Reserve, a project which was launched recently. The hiring of these two new candidates are in line with the orientation of the new Council, in its efforts to separate politics and administration and to avoid conflicts of interest.
I would also like to address a few words to our anglophone members: I once again ask for your trust and tell you that I can be your voice on the council if you wish to. Please contact me if you have any questions or grievances, and it will be my duty and pleasure to help you in any way I can. I am at the office almost every day and am available by phone all the time: please do not hesitate to call me even if only to get news about what is going on at the office.
Lastly, since I have established my residence in Rivière-du-Loup, I am almost always at the administrative office; do not hesitate to call me about any questions or projects you may have: I will be glad to answer and support you in your projects.