Mi’kmaw woman hopes to make history in Nova Scotia election

Nadine Bernard is running for the Liberal party in the N.S. riding of Victoria-The Lakes/Photo by Stephen Brake

Nadine Bernard hopes to make history on August 17 by becoming the first Mi’kmaw person to be elected to the Nova Scotia legislature.

The Mi’kmaw woman is the provincial Liberal Party candidate for the riding, Victoria-The Lakes, in Cape Breton. She is one of two candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Keith Bain with the Progressive Conservative Party.

The other candidate running for the seat is Adrianna MacKinnon for the New Democratic Party.

Nova Scotia Liberal Party Leader Iain Rankin met with Lieutenant-Governor Arthur LeBlanc on Saturday morning to dissolve the Nova Scotia legislature and called an election for Aug. 17.

Bernard won the Liberal nomination on June 15

Bernard, 43, won the Liberal Party nomination on June 15. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the nomination meeting was held virtually.

“My initial reaction was disbelief and shock,” Bernard said in a recent interview. “Did I really see that I won?”

Bernard said she was inspired to run for the Liberal party nomination when Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul announced she was seeking the Liberal Party nomination in the provincial riding of Pictou East earlier this year.

Chief Paul lost her nomination bid to Barneys River Fire Chief Joe MacDonald during a nomination meeting held in mid-June.

Nadine Bernard/Photo by Stephen Brake

“I never felt ready enough until I saw Chief Andrea Paul put her name forward to run as well in her riding,” Bernard explained.

Bernard grew up in We’koqma’q First Nation but is a band member of the Eskasoni First Nation.  With an educational background in business administration, she took part in the Indigenous Women’s Community Leadership program at the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in 2017.

As part of the leadership program at the Coady Institute, Bernard launched her business, Slow Cooked Dreams, which provides low-income community members with skills to help them prepare healthy meals on a budget.

Bernard also formed her own consulting business that helped bridge the gap between First Nations and the construction industry to create employment opportunities on large infrastructure projects.

Bernard is excited and scared to be running for office

Bernard says she is equally excited and scared to be running for a seat in the provincial legislature.

“To be a woman in politics, it brings its own separate challenges and barriers,” she explained. “But on top of that, to be an Indigenous woman running in a space that wasn’t designed for us to be able to be in, will bring a whole separate challenges and barriers and difficulties.”

“So, I have to embrace the idea that this isn’t going to be easy but it’s definitely going to be worth it,” she added.

Nadine Bernard at Kejimkujik National Park in August 2017/Photo by Stephen Brake

Bernard says she is currently setting up her campaign office in Eskasoni.

The riding Bernard hopes to represent is large. It runs from Eskasoni to Dingwall in the Cape Breton Highlands. She says she has a lot to offer to constituents in the Victoria-The Lakes riding with her diverse work and volunteer experience.

“So I think (I have) the perspective of an Indigenous person at the table that can bring reconciliation to the conversations in all areas that are under our provincial responsibility,” Bernard said.

“I really think I could be the voice of so many of our constituents within this riding,” she said.

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About Maureen Googoo 270 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news more than 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.