Neigh­bour­ing Coun­cils meet for rare ses­sion

Wagmatcook Band Coun­cil and Vic­to­ria Co. Coun­cil both want to meet more of­ten

The Victoria Standard - - Local News - ANDREW BROOKS

On Jan­uary 30, Wagmatcook Band Coun­cil and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Vic­to­ria met for the first time in over three years.

The hour-long ses­sion was an op­por­tu­nity for new Coun­cil­lors to meet each other. Both gov­ern­ing bod­ies held elec­tions last fall that re­sulted in sev­eral new faces. The gath­er­ing also al­lowed the Band Coun­cil to bring Vic­to­ria County Coun­cil­lors up-to-speed on sev­eral com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives be­ing worked on in Wagmatcook.

Robert Bernard, head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for the Wagmatcook Cul­ture & Her­itage Cen­tre gave a brief overview of Mi’kmaw His­tory in Nova Sco­tia be­fore speak­ing about a tourism strat­egy that he and oth­ers are work­ing on. Bernard says their plan aims to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the thou­sands of tourists that drive through Wagmatcook on High­way 105 ev­ery year.

Mary Tulle, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Des­ti­na­tion Cape Bre­ton As­so­ci­a­tion has stated that many tourists to the Is­land are look­ing for an “au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence” with lo­cals. In par­tic­u­lar, this cat­e­gory of tourist is eager to en­gage with Mi’kmaq cul­ture and his­tory.

Bernard, who sits on the Emerg­ing Lead­er­ship Coun­cil of TIANS, is well-aware of this ris­ing in­ter­est and be­lieves the time is ripe for ac­tion. A Tourism Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee in Wagmatcook was struck last year and meets reg­u­larly. To meet the needs of fu­ture tourists, Bernard says there is a strong need for tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity train­ing in the com­mu­nity.

The pre­sen­ta­tion also gave up­dates on the Humes River Wa­ter­falls Trail Pro­ject, out­lined de­vel­op­ment of the Wagmatcook wharf, and men­tioned sum­mer events to be held in the com­mu­nity. Up­com­ing events in­clude a Mul­ti­cul­tural Fes­ti­val (July 1516) and the Nova Sco­tia Mi’kmaw Sum­mer Games (Au­gust 20-27) which is ex­pected to draw more than 2300 ath­letes from around the prov­ince.

Chief Nor­man Bernard gave an up­date on the pro­vi­sion of live court ser­vices in Wagmatcook. Chief Nor­man says he is “99% sure” the ser­vices will go ahead and is merely wait­ing for the go-ahead from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice. He was highly com­pli­men­tary of Chief Judge of the Provin­cial and Fam­ily Courts of Nova Sco­tia, Pamela Wil­liams, and Judge Lau­rel J. Half­penny-macquar­rie who have worked with him on the ini­tia­tive.

“The Judges we’ve dealt with have been be­hind us since day one.”

War­den Bruce Mor­ri­son ex­pressed his grat­i­tude for the work Chief Nor­man has done on the is­sue.

“It was a sad day when court ser­vices closed here in Bad­deck. There is a strong need for ser­vices to be present, so we thank you for tak­ing the lead on get­ting them back.”

Both Mor­ri­son and Bernard ap­peared pleased by the meet­ing and com­mit­ted to work­ing more closely in the fu­ture.

“Our pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing. We’re not go­ing any­where,” said Chief Nor­man in clos­ing re­marks. “We want to find ways to work to­gether more of­ten.”

Bruce Mor­ri­son, War­den for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Vic­to­ria (left) is seen with Chief Nor­man Bernard of the Wag­mat­cook Band Coun­cil dur­ing a meet­ing of the two Coun­cils on Jan­uary 30. Photo by An­drew Brooks / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

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