“It’s wild.” Sipekne’katik First Nation elects first female chief

Michelle Glasgow is the first female chief of Sipekne'katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

Michelle Glasgow says she is still in shock at becoming the first woman to be elected chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia.

“I don’t even know how to describe it in words,” Glasgow said in her first media interview since the results of the Nov. 2 election were announced late Thursday evening. “It’s wild.”

Glasgow, 40, was one of two band councillors who challenged incumbent Mike Sack for the position of chief. The other councillor was Brandon Maloney. Band member Jennifer Maloney also ran for chief.

Glasgow received 344 votes while Brandon Maloney received 326 votes. Sack, who was seeking a fourth consecutive term as chief, came in third with 306 votes. Jennifer Maloney received 35 votes.

Eight councillors were re-elected to the twelve-member council. They included Gerry Augustine, Rufus Copage, Cheryl Gehue, Keith Julian, Doreen Knockwood, Lena Knockwood and Timothy Nevin.

Five new band members have also been elected to council. They include Thomas J. Howe, Justin Johnson, Eldon Paul, De-Anne Sack and Brooke Willis. Howe and Paul have served on council in previous years.

Glasgow is now one of five female First Nation chiefs in Nova Scotia.

Fourth person in family line to be elected chief

Sipekne’katik Chief Michelle Glasgow stands with her father, former Chief Alexander McDonald in front of a photo of her six-times great-grandfather, John Noel in council chambers on Nov. 4, 2022/Photo by Stephen Brake

Glasgow, a married mother of nine children, is the fourth person in her family line to serve as chief of Sipekne’katik. Her father, Alexander McDonald, was chief from 2005-2007.

Her family tree also includes her six-times great-grandfather, John Noel, and three-times great-grandfather, John McDonald who served as leaders of Sipekne’katik. She is also a direct descendant of Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Jean Baptiste Cope who signed the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British Crown.

“I’m honoured. I’m ecstatic. I’m excited,” McDonald said of his daughter’s historic election win.

“When I first found out, I shed a few tears, tears of joy,” he said.

“I’m proud of her and I know many good things (will happen) with this new council,” he added.

Glasgow pledges more transparency

Glasgow says she wants to be transparent and available to band members during her two-year term as chief. In addition to holding one or more band council meetings each week, she also plans to post meeting agendas and minutes on the band’s website. She also wants to look into live-streaming band council meetings.

She says two ongoing projects that will require community input include the development of land next to exit 10 along Highway 102 and the entertainment centre in Hammonds Plains.

“Our community should be involved in major decisions, especially when it comes to spending large amounts of money,” Glasgow said.

“Our community needs to know, our band membership needs to know what’s going on,” she added.

Glasgow says she also wants to spend her time as chief renewing working relationships with other Mi’kmaw First Nations and organizations in the region.

Sipekne’katik Chief Michelle Glasgow on Nov. 4, 2022/Photo by Stephen Brake

“I feel like over the past couple of years, we kind of been separated from a lot of different organizations, a lot of different communities, especially with our councils and other councils, the chiefs,” Glasgow explained.

“I think that we are stronger together. I think that if we stand together, especially with the other chiefs, more will get done,” she said.

According to financial documents posted on the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada website, the annual honorarium for the chief of Sipekne’katik in 2020-2021 was approximately $64,000. The annual honorarium for a councillor in 2020-2021 was approximately $45,000.

Sipekne’katik is the second largest Mi’kmaw First Nation in Nova Scotia with approximately 3,000 registered band members. Its communities include Indian Brook in Hants County, Wallace Hills and Grand Lake in Halifax Regional Municipality and New Ross and Pennal in Lunenburg County.

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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.