Neighbouring Councils meet for rare session
Wagmatcook Band Council and Victoria Co. Council both want to meet more often
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.