(Originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "Aboriginal Awareness Week" special advertising feature)
Junior Achievement Nova Scotia recently announced its 2012 laureates for its Business Hall of Fame. Among them were Armour (Ben) McCrea, a developer with dreams, and (posthumously) C.J. and William (Bill) Morrow, builders of the fishing industry. But most notably, for the Aboriginal community, was the inclusion of Chief Terrance Paul of Membertou First Nation on this prestigious list.
According to JA Nova Scotia, which provides youth across the province with opportunities to learn about business and entrepreneurship, “Chief Paul’s extraordinary passion and vision have shaped a community that serves as an example for others to follow”. Over the past decade, the Membertou First Nation has shifted from a significant operating deficit to budget surpluses and from reliance on welfare to a drastically reduced unemployment rate. During these changes, Chief Paul’s confident and capable leadership has remained constant, says the organization.
Chief Paul’s instrumental role in facilitating economic development and opportunity for his community stems from his beginnings on the Boston Indian Council, based in Massachusetts. In the early 1970s, Chief Paul was hired as the council’s job placement officer. During that time, he gained valuable knowledge in the area of administrative and financial management. Chief Paul was promoted to director of finance before being named president of the council.
Upon leaving Boston, Chief Paul joined the Membertou First Nation as an economic development officer and band manager. He was elected chief in 1984 and has continued to serve in that role for the past 27 years. During his time as chief of the Membertou First Nation, the community has seen staggering growth. In just 10 years, Chief Paul’s philosophy of transparent, accountable and sustainable finances has led to the First Nation’s operating budget increasing from $4 million to $65 million and its staff growing from 37 to more than 500. This budget has grown based on revenue from commercial fisheries and gaming.
Under Chief Paul’s leadership, Membertou opened its corporate headquarters in Halifax in the fall of 2000. The corporate division of the Membertou First Nation is committed to providing a foundation for economic development efforts by creating and enhancing relationships with Canadian and international business communities. Less than two years after the opening of its corporate division, Membertou received official notification of its International Organization of Standards (ISO) status, establishing Membertou as the first Aboriginal government in the world to have many of its departments ISO 9001:2008 certified.
In addition to his work restoring Membertou First Nation, Chief Paul has also dedicated himself to a variety of causes related to Aboriginal interests. Chief Paul’s assistance in Donald Marshall Jr.’s Supreme Court defense of the Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights to fish helped lead to approximately $600 million in benefits for the Mi’kmaq people. He is a former member of the board of directors of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the only national, non-political organization working to promote the growth of Aboriginal business in Canada. Chief Paul has also been an enthusiastic supporter of Cape Breton University and is a member of its Shannon School of Business Advisory Board. In 2010, the university awarded him an honourary Doctor of Letters.
JA Nova Scotia says “although he is known as a savvy businessman, it is ultimately his leadership and vision for which Chief Paul has gained the respect and admiration of his peers and community”.
In recognition of his achievements, Chief Terrance Paul will be inducted during the 2012 Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame gala which takes place on May 24 at the World Trade & Convention Centre in Halifax. To learn more or to order tickets, contact Lynn Coveyduck at (902) 454-4564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Read more "Aboriginal Awareness Week" stories at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight/Aboriginal-Awareness-Week-23616