A Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chief has been elected as a regional vice-chief for the Assembly of First Nations.
Chief Paul Prosper of the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation will represent Mi’kmaw chiefs from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on the AFN executive committee.
“I’m just really excited about doing that office justice, getting things together and really moving things forward on behalf of leadership,” Paul said when reached via phone on Sunday.
In a news release, the Mi’kmaw leaders said they look forward to working alongside Prosper as their new regional chief during his three-year term. According to the release, the nomination meeting, which was held on Sept. 3, was postponed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Bring honour to the office” – Paqtnkek Chief Paul Prosper
The Mi’kmaw leaders chose Prosper over three other candidates after hearing presentations from them during the nomination meeting. In his presentation, Prosper said he spoke on how the office of AFN regional vice-chief should be viewed.
“It is my duty to do what is right, to do what is appropriate to bring honour to the office,” Prosper said. “I really wanted that opportunity to provide that example, to set the standard for, hopefully, other future people who come into this position.”
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulated Prosper on his election and welcomed him to the AFN executive committee.
“I have known Regional Chief Prosper for a long time, and I know he is a strong voice, with the dedication to his people that is the hallmark of an effective advocate,” Bellegarde said in a news release.
“I look forward to working together with Regional Chief Prosper to pursue the priorities of First Nations in the East as well as First Nations across the country,” he added.
The AFN executive committee includes ten regional vice-chiefs from across Canada as well as National Chief Bellegarde.
Prosper, a graduate of Cape Breton University, has been working with Indigenous organizations in Nova Scotia and PEI since he earned his law degree at Dalhousie University in 1994. He has worked for the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, the Nova Scotia Aboriginal Title Project, the Mi’kmaw Legal Support, the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research Centre of Nova Scotia and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI.
Since 2013, Prosper has been serving as chief of Paqtnkek, a First Nation community located near Antigonish, N.S.
Previous AFN Vice-Chief removed in Oct. 2019
The regional vice-chief position had been vacant since October 2019 when the Mi’kmaw leaders removed Morley Googoo as their representative on the AFN executive committee.
Googoo’s removal came while the AFN was conducting an internal investigation into allegations that he harassed and discriminated against Indigenous women while he served as the executive chair of the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum.
Prosper said he will be stepping down as chief of Paqtnkek as he transitions into his new role as regional vice-chief and sets up his office. One of the issues he plans to focus on is the implementation of Mi’kmaw rights.
“The implementation of Mi’kmaw rights is a key element that seems to transcend a number of key areas (such as) education, social welfare and fishing rights,” he said.
Prosper plans to meet with Mi’kmaw leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador to discuss their priorities to incorporate into a workplace.
“I’m really looking to use some of my experience, my expertise to contribute to that,” he said.