The two candidates running for chief in the upcoming Pictou Landing First Nation election say they want to move their community forward with more economic development initiatives.
The current chief, Andrea Paul is seeking a third consecutive term. Her only opponent, AJ (Alden Joseph) Francis, is a self-employed fisherman who has previously served on council.
Pictou Landing First Nation is located near Trenton, Nova Scotia. The Mi’kmaw community’s election takes place November 26.
Paul, 44, says she has worked with her fellow councillors and the band’s management team over the past four years to eliminate the band’s debt. According to the Indigenous and Northern Affairs website, the band ended the 2014-2015 fiscal year with a surplus of $3.4-million.
“Now we’re in a (place) where things are turning around,” Paul said in a recent phone interview. “Our financials are looking a lot better.”
Paul said the band recently entered into partnerships with local construction businesses to build energy efficient buildings to sell in areas such as northern Canada.
The band plans to use construction of the new band administration office as a marketing tool to sell the energy efficient buildings.
If re-elected, Paul says she wants to enter into more partnerships with outside organizations and businesses to help band members who are certified to work in trade fields such carpentry and welding to gain experience and secure permanent employment.
“We can actually have these people who we’ve trained over the years and who’ve become trained in different trades and we could market them and get them out in the workforce,” Paul said.
Paul, who has an education degree and has worked several years in education field, also promises to re-vamp the band’s current fisheries management plan that encourages young band members to study marine sciences so they can return to work for the band.
Francis says “status quo” needs to change
Meanwhile, AJ Francis, who is running for both chief and a seat on council, says even more can done to create jobs for Pictou Landing First Nation if he is elected chief.
“It’s kind of being status quo as far as everything’s been running,” Francis said.” There’s no gaming. There’s no housing going up,” he added.
“I love my community a lot and it has so much potential. There’s so much room for growth and I just want to help, be in there with a good team and push it forward with new initiatives and exploring other areas for funding,” Francis said.
If elected, Francis promises to “fix the social issues which is employment and housing.”
“The main employment down here is fishing and the gas bar. There’s not enough revenue coming in for new projects,” the father of three boys said.
Francis, who runs his own fisheries business, says he has enough experience to lead Pictou Landing First Nation. He previously worked as a fleet manager for the band’s fisheries department and sat on numerous boards and committees when he served on band council 2009-2011.
“I think I know what it takes to do this with the community,” Francis said.
There are 35 candidates running for six council positions. Current councillors seeking re-election are:
- Crystal Ann Denny
- Dominic Denny
- Wayne Francis Denny
- Gordie Prosper
Other candidates running for council include:
- Darlene Bachiri
- Faron Beadle
- Jonathan Beadle
- Haley Bernard
- Sarah Marie Clark
- Diane Marie Denny
- Edgar C. Denny
- Stephanie Denny
- Aileen Marie Francis
- Allan Leonard Francis
- Barry Francis
- Billy Francis
- Derek Francis
- Janet Francis
- Kenny Joe Francis
- Tonya Francis
- Warren Francis
- Michelle Francis-Denny
- Ann Francis-Muise
- Mary Ella Hatfield
- April Nicholas
- Durney Tom Nicholas
- Elizabeth (Edie) Nicholas
- Mary Irene Nicholas
- Noel George Nicholas
- John Joseph Paul
- Marsha (Mills) Phillips
- Aaron Prosper
- Karen Anne Prosper
The current chief and council’s term expires on November 29, 2015.
According to the federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website, the yearly honorarium for chief is $52,000 and $21,000 for a councillor.
Pictou Landing has 483 band members on reserve and 176 band members located off reserve.