PAQTNKEK MI'KMAW NATION, N.S. - The Paqtnkek interchange highway project has reached its final phase and anticipation for its opening is growing in the community.
“The community is excited, a lot of people are asking what is going up there,” Rose Paul, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation director of economic development, said, in talking to the Casket Sept. 25.
Paul noted she doesn’t have the liberty yet to reveal exactly what businesses will be setting up shop around the exchange, but that announcement will be coming soon.
“We can’t disclose them right now but the development [around the area] is going great,” she said. “We’re all very excited to finalize these as soon as possible, and we’ll have a public announcement for everyone.
“I have told them [residents asking] everything we’ve been hoping for is going there … a lot of new jobs.”
The work has already provided jobs for Paqtnkek residents and that will continue with the establishment of businesses around the interchange. Chief Paul ‘PJ’ Prosper said it has been, and will continue to be, great for the community.
“It’s going to be rather exciting and provide huge opportunities for our community and surrounding communities,” Prosper said.
“With development comes opportunity and the ability of people to not only seek employment with existing businesses but also to take on a role of an entrepreneur. To have a basis for them to pursue their dreams is something we are really looking forward to.”
Dustin Pictou was one of the Paqtnkek residents who did bridge construction work for the interchange.
“It’s going to be a big help,” he said of the project.
“It’s going to be good for the economy; bring a bunch of jobs here.”
Fellow residents Fred Sylliboy and Crystal Bernard agree.
“A lot more money coming in, different shops, and more traffic going through … that is what you need here,” Sylliboy said, talking to the Casket while enjoying the recent Powwow in his community.
“There will be more job opportunities for everyone on the reserve,” Bernard said. “It’s hard to get work off the reserve, so this will bring more job opportunities right here.”
Sylliboy said his one concern with all the construction near the community was the disruption for the wildlife.
“It’s too bad,” he said, “The foxes, skunks … all of our animals.”
Paul said residents are polishing up their skills and resumes in anticipation of the work opportunities coming to Paqtnkek.
“Getting ready to part of the development for us,” she said. “And the excited is not just for this community, but all of Antigonish in general.”