Membertou First Nation is gearing up to elect their next chief and council team Thursday.
The election race has 65 candidates vying for one chief and 12 councillor positions
The Cape Breton Post spoke to four community members to find out the issues they wanted to be addressed in the election.
Tyler Sack, 32, feels the number one issue for him is seeing a path toward self-governance and self-determination.
“Self-determination and self-governance is the ultimate goal, that’s our inherent right,” said Sack.
He sees the government of Canada and Indigenous Services of Canada as a paternalistic government and would love to see Membertou break further away. Sack believes Membertou is already heading in the right direction.
He feels it's impractical to have policies and programs developed by people in Ottawa when they don’t understand the culture and complexities of a Mi’kmaq community.
“We know our people and our priorities and our needs best," said Sack.
He knows taking all of that on would take time, so he’d like to see a five-year strategic plan from leadership toward self-governance and ensuring they're following their campaign promises.
He’d like to see Membertou take ownership of who gets status.
“The end goal of blood quantum is to have no Indigenous people left in Canada,” said Sack.
As Shauntel Paul contemplates who she would vote for, employment and housing are on top of her mind. She would like to see a commitment to hiring community members first.
“Give our own people more opportunities, give them incentive and motivation to do well and work hard. Membertou is thriving, but the people are not,” said Paul.
She feels so many people in Membertou are bright and educated but she doesn’t see the job opportunities for all of them. Paul believes it's imperative that leadership creates job opportunities and believes with technological advancements it's possible.
“Let's set our own people up for success,” said Paul.
She’d also like to see more housing opportunities created, both large and small apartment buildings.
Leurette LaBobe thinks a focus on healing is necessary to see the community move forward and a support group for adult children of an alcoholic.
“A little love, compassion, active-listening and guidance can go a long way. We need our people to have lateral violence programs, a policy on it, serious changes in views and stigma. That is where my focus is on and the issues that need to be changed,” said LaBobe.
She lost a loved one to addictions and didn’t want to see anyone else in her community suffer from it.
Caroline (Kalo) Sylvester wanted to see a focus on healing also and having the community grounded in language, culture and sustainability. She remembers certain berry bushes she picked as a child being cut down to make room for more housing, and she recognizes housing as an issue as well, but she hoped Membertou could take a greener look at housing developments.
“We need to work on replanting trees when we’re putting up houses,” said Sylvester.
She’s hoping also to build more rapport with the sitting council and hopes there is more gender parity. The current sitting council has two women represented.
“One thing I’ve really been talking about this election is I really hope to see more balance between our men and women,” said Sylvester.