Madawaska Maliseet First Nation
First Nation booming in New Brunswick thanks to multi-faceted centre
By Sam Laskaris
The Grey Rock Entertainment Center is just one of the many ventures which make up the Grey Rock Power Centre on the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation in New Brunswick.
The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is not resting on its laurels.
The First Nation, located a few kilometres from the New Brunswick city of Edmundston, has had numerous recent successful economic stories which have greatly assisted toward its goal of becoming self-sustaining.
As a result, it comes as little surprise the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation has been nominated for Cando’s community of the year.
“It’s actually an honour to be nominated for this award,” said Patricia Bernard, who has served as the Chief of the First Nation since 2013. “We’re a small community but we’re quite proud of our accomplishments so far.”
Cando, the organization which promotes Indigenous economic development across Canada, also annually recognizes recipients in the economic development officer of the year and Aboriginal Private Sector Business categories.
All of the 2018 winners will be announced at the Cando Conference, scheduled for Oct. 22-25 in Enoch, Alta.
The most notable venture undertaken in recent years on the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation was the building of the Grey Rock Power Centre, which opened in 2003.
The facility, mere minutes from the Quebec border and the border of the American state of Maine, has become the pride and joy of the First Nation.
The property, located next to the Trans-Canada Highway, includes a multi-purpose entertainment centre which features a casino and bingo hall as well as one of Atlantic Canada’s largest truck stops.
Several other businesses, including a food court and a Ford car dealership, are located in the centre.
A hotel and conference centre, located next to the casino, is expected to be completed by late this year or early next year. That facility will include 80 hotel rooms.
“People will be able to come and stay now,” Bernard said. “That will help out quite a bit.”
Other businesses are also being sought for the property.
Though the Grey Rock Power Centre opened its doors five years ago, it was quite a bit before that that officials from the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, which has about 550 members, started thinking about such a venture in their community.
“It’s been a long sort of vision for the community,” Bernard said. “Previous administrations have had this vision all the way back to the 1970s.”
The Grey Rock Power Centre is managed by the Madawaska Maliseet Economic Development Corporation. The CEO of the corporation is Bernard’s older sister Joanna, who had served as the First Nation’s chief for a decade up until 2013.