The newly-elected Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation band council has been sworn in.
Chief P.J. Prosper, along with Councillors Kerry Prosper, Dolly Prosper, Anne Marie Paul, Judy Bernard-Julian and Tma Francis took their oath of office, Dec. 6, at the community’s health centre.
“This is my privilege and pleasure,” Donald Julien, Executive Director of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, said before conducting the swearing-in ceremony.
He also presented each council member with an eagle feather.
Chief Prosper said having Julien conduct the service was an “honour.”
“It really added a certain element of solemnness to the swearing-in ceremony, when we were taking the oath of office,” Prosper said.
Before leading each council member through that oath, Julien mentioned it is one fashioned by Chief Prosper, which other band councils in the province are using. It focuses greatly on making a commitment to community.
“We thought it would be proper to have an oath that reflects the dream of community and our relationship and responsibility to community as leaders, and our vision for our community to come together, as one,” Chief Prosper said.
“That’s what we wanted to put forward and to have incorporated into the oath of office.”
In talking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, Chief Prosper agreed it will be a busy two-year term for the band council, noting “we are in the midst of major development.”
“It is really refreshing to see a consistency, for the most part with council, so we are able to keep the momentum going on some major projects,” Chief Prosper said.
“I am really happy about that, I am really happy that the community has, sort of again, supported leadership and what leadership has done over the last term.”
Chief Prosper was also asked about a video he released after the election, where he touched on the future for the community, including the wish that his successor would be a woman.
“It is my hope that we, sort of, look towards the development of a custom election code, which is, essentially, the community deciding on how we want to elect leadership,” he said, noting there are mechanisms, through the Indian Act, to allow for such a process.
“[There is] a certain belief that I have that – the more people that have opportunity to take on a leadership role – position within community, whether it is chief or council – the stronger our community will be; the more people that would have knowledge of that position, and experience in that position.
“It is the hope that we would mentor leadership, at a very young age, and teach them about this idea of service to community – not being a servant to community, but to be of service to community. To, sort of, put forward these ideas – fundamental values of leadership – generated through an overall vision of community,” Chief Prosper added.
Paqtnkek has never had a female chief.
“I think our community is ready for that and, I think, that would send a sign throughout the community that we are committed to develop leadership within community that will reflect the fundamental values and principles of who we are as Mi’kmaw people.
“I would love to see young women aspire to become not only a council member but also chief,” he added.
In the Nov. 24 election Prosper, who is starting his third term, outdistanced Gerard Julian – 167 to 114 votes.
Four out of five councillors were re-elected; Kerry Prosper, Dolly Prosper, Anne Marie Paul and Judy Bernard-Julian.
Tma Francis is the newcomer to council, with Molly Peters not re-elected.
There were 16 names on the ballot for the five councillor positions.
Two ballots were spoiled.