Eskasoni and Membertou Meet with CBRM
March 25, 2013
Stronger Together was the theme of what is being considered the first in Canada when Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s (CBRM) Mayor and Council met with Eskasoni and Membertou Chief and Council for the first time to discuss common goals and concerns
It took the vision of former MP and now CBRM Mayor, Cecil Clarke to see the importance of working together for a better Cape Breton. All three governments held a joint meeting in the morning on March 25, 2013 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Center.
After Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny, Membertou Chief Terry Paul and CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke made some opening remarks, the councillors met behind closed doors to discuss issues that pose common concerns in the three communities.
Many issues were discussed throughout the morning from garbage disposal to creating economic opportunities for a struggling municipality and high unemployment rate in First Nation communities.
After the meeting, Mayor Clarke said, “We accomplished something great. We have a common commitment and a desire to deal with our economy, grow opportunity, how we could invest jointly, and provide citizens access to training. We committed to making sure we use our joint resources to make better outcomes.”
Both Chief Terry Paul of Membertou and Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni both agreed by working together we could all achieve common goals. “We talked about port development, the possible industries that could come in, how we can work together to see both the provincial and federal governments, showing them that we’re working together for the projects that we’re submitting,” said Chief Paul.
Chief Denny and his council are committed in their strong stance on drug abuse and drug related struggles in his community and Chief Denny recognized all three communities are struggling to deal with the same issues.
“I know many other First Nations communities also face these problems, but also within the CBRM,” Chief Denny said. “It’s important that we collaborate and we really work together to find better ways to keep our communities safe, mainly for the children, for the elders around the region. One of the things we can do to resolve this problem is economic development, to create jobs, to create opportunities and provide more training for people.”
All three governments agreed that they must bring the regional police service, the RCMP and the Department of Justice together to address some of those problems, Clarke said, adding it’s better to do that together than to work in isolation.
Many young people — both aboriginal and non-aboriginal — are leaving Cape Breton in search of work, he added, noting it’s important to create jobs for them here.
Mayor Clarke added, “These three communities face many of the same obstacles at differing degrees with issues such as drugs, economic development and employment concerns. It was great to see that the larger communities are coming together not only to recognize these problems but to create and build strategies to turn them into opportunities.”
The next meeting will be hosted by Eskasoni and it is expected that it will take place in the fall.