Second Mi’kmaw candidate running in Nova Scotia election

Bryson Syliboy is the NDP candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Richmond in the upcoming provincial election/Photo by Stephen Brake

A second Mi’kmaw person is running in the Nova Scotia election.

Bryson Syliboy is the New Democratic Party candidate in the provincial riding of Richmond in Cape Breton.

If elected, Syliboy would be the first openly gay Mi’kmaw elected to the Nova Scotia legislature.

Bryson Syliboy has been living in Port Hawkesbury, N.S. since 2012/Photo by Stephen Brake

“I decided to run in this election because representation matters and we don’t have a lot of Indigenous candidates that had run in recent years,” Syliboy said during an interview at his home in Port Hawkesbury on Wednesday.

“I want to give a chance for our Mi’kmaw youth to see that they can do stuff like this,” he said.

Two Mi’kmaw people running in Nova Scotia election

Syliboy, 40, is one of two Mi’kmaw people running for office in the provincial election. Nadine Bernard from We’koqma’q First Nation is the Liberal Party candidate for the riding of Victoria-The Lakes in Cape Breton.  If elected, Bernard would be the first Mi’kmaw woman elected in the provincial legislature.

The Richmond riding runs from Point Tupper to Fourchu along the eastern part of Cape Breton Island. Potlotek Mi’kmaw Nation is the only First Nation community located within the riding.

The community of Arichat is part of the Nova Scotia riding of Richmond/Photo by Stephen Brake

Syliboy is one of three candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Alana Paon, an Independent who is also seeking re-election in Richmond riding. Matt Haley is the Liberal Party candidate and Trevor Boudreau is running for the Progressive Conservative Party.

A member of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, Syliboy has lived in Port Hawkesbury since 2012. He is currently the aquatics coordinator with the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

As a two-spirited person, Syliboy said running for the NDP was a “good fit” for him.

“I feel like the NDP party has a very diverse team so it’s a really welcoming team,” Syliboy said. “Their policies are aligned with myself.”

“I want to be there to help with reconciliation” – Bryson Syliboy

Syliboy says he wants to talk to voters about issues such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, improving healthcare and addressing the lack of affordable housing. However, he says current COVID-19 restrictions may interfere with him talking to voters directly.

“I’m hoping to do like, pop-up campaign spots so people can come to me,” Syliboy explained. “I know COVID is still happening so a lot of people are still hesitant of going door-to-door.”

As a son and grandson of residential school survivors, Syliboy says he can play a role in reconciliation if he’s elected to the Nova Scotia legislature.

Bryson Syliboy/Photo by Stephen Brake

“I want to be there to help with reconciliation because I know how the government and Mi’kmaw relationship is pretty strained right now at the moment,” Syliboy said.

“I can make a difference with that,” he added.

Nova Scotians go to the polls on Aug. 17.

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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.