Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Rose Paul has earned her share of praise and awards serving as the CEO of Bayside Development Corporation, the business arm of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation in Nova Scotia.
And Paul doesn’t mind sharing the foundations of the corporation’s success.
She delivered a keynote address at the Indigenomics Bay Street conference, which wrapped up in Toronto on Nov. 23.
Paul’s address was titled What economic reconciliation looks like—rebuilding our Nations in line with Mi’kmaw worldview.
“Speaking the language of my ancestors, embedding it within the framework of our economic development plans, is to honor and revive the ways of our forebears, ensuring their voices and wisdom resonate in the present and guide our future,” Paul told the gathering.
“Since the first settlers came to our lands, our world has been transformed in profound ways. These changes have deeply altered the landscapes we call home and have had lasting impacts on our communities and ways of life.”
Bayside Development Corporation has established a travel centre in the community, which includes a gas station, convenience store and several other businesses.
Paul also lobbied provincial and federal officials for years to build a highway interchange as portions of her First Nation had not been readily accessible for decades following the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway.
“For me and my Nation, governance and economic reconciliation are not static concepts, but a reawakening of our traditional laws,” Paul said.
“Our customs are not simply a set of rules. They are a living testament to the process of reconciliation, evolving from shared examples and models of conduct. Rooted in oral traditions, they reflect our daily life, encapsulating our shared experiences of hardship and joy. They are a celebration of our heritage, expressive in its nature, and deeply performative.”
She said Mi’kmaw customs have “matured through centuries of oral storytelling, a cherished practice where every narrative shared is a strand in the tapestry of our collective identity. They hold the laughter and tears of our ancestors, their trials and triumphs, and through them we celebrate our resilience, our culture, and our connection to this land, long before the first European footprints marked our soils.”
Paul said Paqtnkek Nation’s economic development follows eight foundational principles.
These principles are: Creation, Wisdom, Courage, Healing, Commitment to the Seven Generations, Responsibility, The Way We Are, and Sustaining Ourselves.
Paul said all of these elements are sacred gifts.
“They teach us about the delicate balance of life, the harmony that must be maintained, and the responsibilities we hold as stewards of these precious resources,” she said.
“In every economic initiative we undertake, we strive to honour these gifts, ensuring that our present actions nurture and preserve their sanctity for the generations yet to grace this world.
“This philosophy of living in harmony with and nurturing these fundamental elements of life is the bedrock upon which we build our economic future.”
She said these principles are purposely included in economic policies and initiatives.
“We are not only revitalizing our own community but also offering a model of development that is holistic, just, and deeply respectful of the intricate web of life,” Paul said. “This is the path we walk as Mi’kmaw, as stewards of our land, and as global citizens in an ever-changing world.”
Paul also said this is why it is important to think beyond the present.
“The world in which we engage economically is not a series of isolated islands but a vast interconnected ecosystem,” she said. “Every decision we make, every partnership we form, and every project we embark upon is evaluated through the lens of this deep interconnectedness. Our economic practices are not just about ensuring the financial well-being of our people today. They are about maintaining ecological sanctity and ensuring the prosperity of those yet to walk this earth.”
Rose also said the past decade has brought widespread awareness to the fact reconciliation is required. But she added economic reconciliation is not something that can be achieved by just one party.
“It is a collaborative voyage that beckons all who reside in and cherish this land to join hands in solidarity,” she said. “This journey calls for more than mere acknowledgment. It demands active participation, a unification of efforts and aspirations. It is a path that requires courage to confront past injustices, wisdom to navigate through complexities, and a shared commitment to forge a future rooted in mutual respect and prosperity.”
The Indigenomics Bay Street conference featured Indigenous leaders from the private and corporate sectors. Government officials also attended the event, which included various presentations and panels related to Indigenous economics.
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