About Three Rivers Mi'kmaq Band Inc.
Three Rivers Mi'kmaq Band Inc. is a not-for profit incorporated in March of 2020. Our community consists of Fichells River, Heatherton, Robinsons, Cartyville, Mckay’s, Jeffreys, St. David’s, St. Fintan’s, Lochleven, and the Highlands. We are located on the west coast of Newfoundland, approximately 75 km from the nearest service town of Stephenville.
As an Indigenous service provider, Three Rivers Mi’kmaq Band Inc. represents the Mi’kmaq population, which makes up nearly half of the 1100 individuals living in Bay St George South region. The Mi’kmaq population living in and around our communities have been without representation since Newfoundland’s Confederation in 1949.
Although Mi'kmaq on the west coast of Newfoundland are listed under Qalipu First Nations, Qalipu First Nation does not fund, support, or provide on the ground services to our community and our members. As a result, our community is status blind in regards to federal recognition and the rights and benefits for individuals who have been federally recognized under the enrollment process. Individuals in our community were given federal recognition (i.e. status Band Membership) while their siblings were not, as an Indigenous organization, we support ALL our families, not only those fortunate enough to win the federal recognition lottery.
Three Rivers Mi’kmaq Band is committed to social uplifting for the Mi’kmaq population living in the Bay St. George South region. As Indigenous residents of a rural area, there are many challenges we face. Our community does not have a doctor or pharmacy, nor do we have a chain grocery store to which we can obtain affordable essential supplies and food. Transportation is a fundamental difficulty under regular conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made accessing food basics substantially more difficult and placing our most vulnerable population at risk and has had a major financial impact on many community members, where many are now living without food and essential supplies.
A significant portion of our population lives well below the poverty line (i.e. under ten thousand a year annual income). The citizens of our region are consistently below the national average on education, health, economic and all social wellbeing indexes.
What makes our region unique is our community has a higher-than-average elder population living in abject poverty. Our existence has primarily depended on fishing, farming, and wood cutting. The vast majority of our residences worked seasonal. Therefore, our population did not have the benefit of maxing government retirement benefits such as CPP. Due to seasonal work, there was no opportunity for government or private pensions. While we have a vibrant fishing community, the youngest license holder is over the age of 40. With the majority over the age of 60.
The poverty in our region also means that our young families have moved away from the area looking for work. The missing youth in our region leaves many of our seniors without their children to give support of any kind. As with many Indigenous communities, our community also has a significantly low level of educational attainment. Which makes life more difficult in a time where literacy is not only needed but essential for daily tasks and communication. There are many areas within our region which do not have access to internet if they could afford to have the service.
Our mission is to improve the social fabric of our community and the development of services, employment, and community wellbeing, which will be self sustainable and independent. The principals of community wellness are at the core of our belief system, which encompass, food, health, education, employment, and access to ALL services our community needs.
In moving forward, we are finding and implementing creative ways to bring about environmentally safe initiatives, skills and labour investment, and innovative projects to lift our communities out of the long cycle of poverty.
Chief Peggy White
Three Rivers Mi’kmaq Band Chief
Dedication. Expertise. Passion.
Margaret (Peggy) White is the Chief and CEO of Three Rivers Mi’kmaq Band Inc. Chief White started her career by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at Ryerson University in Toronto. She then earned her Juris Doctorate at Dalhousie Law School in Halifax Nova Scotia, and went on to earn a Master of Law at the University of Arizona, specializing in Indigenous People Law and Policy. While completing her Masters, Margaret worked as a Canadian Researcher for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Margaret is socially conscious and has used her education in the service of others with Mi’kmaq Legal Support Services and Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiation Office in Nova Scotia. Margaret White is dedicated to the people and communities of Newfoundland.