Paul (PJ) Prosper has been elected to serve a third term as chief of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation in Nova Scotia.
Chief Prosper received 167 votes in the Nov. 24 election. His only opponent, former chief Gerard Julian, received 114 votes. Julian was also unsuccessful in his bid to be elected to council.
Councillors Kerry Prosper, Anne Paul, Judy Bernard-Julian and Darlene (Dolly) Prosper were re-elected to council. The fifth person elected to council was Tma Francis. Molly Peters was unable to receive enough votes to retain her seat on council.
“I feel good,” Chief Prosper said about the election results when reached by phone on Sunday.
“It’s really good seeing the community supporting me and obviously the council as well. I’m really excited about that,” he said.
Prosper, who was first elected chief of Paqtnkek in 2013, said he considers this latest election win as an endorsement of his council’s work in the past four years to improve commercial and community development initiatives.
Paqtnkek’s main commercial initiative is a $15.3-million highway development project along Trans Canada Highway 104 just outside of Antigonish, N.S. In July, band members took part in a referendum on the highway development in which they voted in favour of the project.
“There were a lot of negotiations we were involved in and it’s really positive to see that take place. It was a very critical thing,” Prosper said.
Prosper also said he and his council also worked hard to improve the band’s finances and financial controls in the past four years. He said they were able to reduce the band debt from $4-million to $2.6-million.
The band was also able to increase revenue from band-owned businesses such as the gas bar, the tobacco store, gaming and fishery, Prosper explained. The band now has an annual surplus of $1-million through own-source revenue, he said.
Custom election code for Paqtnkek
Prosper said he now plans to move forward with a plan to work on a custom election code for Paqtnkek.
A custom election code allows First Nations communities to develop their own election process outside of the Indian Act that may include longer terms for elected officials.
“We did the preliminary work, the legal work. We’ve reviewed other custom codes because 51 per cent of bands throughout Canada have a custom code,” Prosper said.
“Now is the time for us to start to implement some kind of custom code (election) that’s going to reflect the needs of the community,” he said.
According to an official with the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, 413 registered band members were eligible to vote in the Nov. 24 election.
Paqtnkek is the tenth largest Mi’kmaw band by population in Nova Scotia with a total of 585 registered band members. The community is located approximately 25 kilometres east of Antigonish, N.S.
According to the Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s website, the salary for chief of Paqtnkek is $50,000 per year including expenses. The salary set for councillors with Paqtnkek is $40,000 per year including expenses.