Membertou Through the Years

Membertou, a flourishing community located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, continues undergoing big changes toward development, growth, and prosperity. We have seen many establishments, especially in the last decade. During this time, we saw construction happening, buildings built, population growth, homes built and allotted, and new roads put into our community for commercial and community expansion. The Membertou Development Corporation is still growing its entities, creating and bringing to life businesses. There was a mass economic shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Membertou came through and was able to successfully reopen its business and have in-person events, and offer in-person services once again.

The Membertou Entrepreneur Centre, established in 2005, is a Membertou entity led and managed by Eileen Paul. It is through this Centre that we see our community members fulfilling their entrepreneurial goals and dreams. If anyone has a vision for a business, Eileen is there to assist them with the process. Her passion for helping Indigenous entrepreneurs brought the Centre much success we see today. We also saw Membertou’s Youth Chief and Council come to fruition, governing the youth in our community and acting as “the voices of Membertou’s youth.”

In 2012, the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Membertou Heritage Park were built. We are now able to attract tourists from all around to see our thriving businesses. We are now a well- established entity truly welcoming the world. Membertou was also the fourth largest employer in the CBRM during the 2012-2013 year.

In 2014, a new educational establishment entered our community: Maupeltuewey Kina’matno’kuom, Membertou’s official elementary school. “Our staff is dedicated to providing a quality education to all students and we strive to provide a safe & comfortable environment.” Membertou is passionate about education, especially for our children, and we love seeing our children reaching their goals and dreams through learning and academic success, as our children and youth are the future.

We saw a new entranceway on Nova Scotia Highway 125 officially become part of our community in spring 2015. Exit 7A to Churchill drive is now the main entrance to Membertou, with a new overpass and roundabout. “What began as a $7 million highway overpass project is now Membertou’s official ‘front door.’” Two major purchases for Membertou were The Sydney Health Park located at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and the Medical Arts building on King’s Road.

A new sporting establishment was built in 2016: the Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre. This was our community’s development highlight, and seeing it come into our community brought joy and excitement to Membertou. We love sports, and partnering with the YMCA to build an indoor fitness facility to accompany the indoor rink was a long-term goal become reality. Our former physical activity leadership coordinator, Krista Hodder, brought much sporting attraction and media to this facility, helping it grow and flourish into what it is today. We have finally built “a healthier Membertou” and our community loves it.

Another highlight of 2016 was Senator Dan Christmas’ appointment to the Senate of Canada. He received a phone call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stating he was selected for Senate along with eight others. The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Summer Games were also hosted in Membertou from August 14-21-2016 and a new gaming facility was built.

Some exciting highlights took place in the 2017-2018 year. The Hampton Inn & Suites celebrated its 5th anniversary, Membertou hosted the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, Membertou commemorated Orange Shirt Day, Chief Terrance Paul received the Order of Canada in Ottawa, the Wally Bernard Tournaments celebrated 45 years, and we hosted the 15th annual Pow wow. What a busy year this has been for our community.

In 2018-2019, we saw a new business take form in our community. Lanes at Membertou was established on November 2, 2018, and it is a “state of the art” bowling facility open to our community and beyond. This is an exciting opportunity for Membertou tourism and to help bring our community together for birthdays, school field trips, milestone celebrations, and so much more. Membertou was also named a Best Managed Company on March 7, 2019.

Aside from business establishments, the 2019-2020 year centered around education and remembrance. We had a total of 35 graduates this year, which is a major milestone for graduations in Membertou. We want to see these numbers rise in our future, as our graduates are our future. In this same year, Membertou lost Dozay Christmas, Indigenous artist from our community and wife of Senator Dan Christmas. Her legacy will forever live on through her work. Membertou was also named one of Canada’s 2019-2020 best managed companies once again.

In 2020-2021, our businesses experienced a mass shutdown, as COVID-19 swept through our nation. However, Membertou was able to pull through and reopen its entities in alignment with provincial COVID-19 guidelines. We still saw an increase in Membertou graduates from high school to higher education at a total of 44, and our medical staff at the Membertou Wellness Home ensured our community had access to and were given COVID-19 vaccinations. Another important highlight of this year was the Clearwater Seafoods Acquisition on November 9, 2020.

And finally, in 2021-2022, we were able to successfully reopen all of our business entities after the mass economic shutdown the year before. Many in-person events occurred, such as the July 1st walk in downtown Sydney, the returning of the Wallace Bernard Memorial Hockey Tournaments, the Cape Breton Eagles Heritage game, and the Cancer Care ‘Here at Home’ campaign. A new Indigenous Holiday was also introduced on September 30th, 2021, known as the National Holiday for Truth and Reconciliation holiday. Our community gathered together with people from all over on this day in remembrance and honour of residential school survivors and for those who lost their lives to this system.

Another highlight from the 2021-2022 year is the development of Seventh Exchange. Seventh Exchange is Membertou’s latest in-the-works development project, and it is coming to Highway 125, Exit 7A in the future. It will be an inclusive retail district rooted in community, convenience, and collaboration. Construction began in the summer of 2021. The development area of Seventh Exchange is approximately 180 acres. Green Diamond Equipment, a recreational sports vehicle dealer, is the first building going up, and Membertou is thrilled to see its progress.

Over the course of the last decade, we see how Membertou grew as a Corporation, and as a community. We sprung back from the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully reopening our businesses and reintroducing in-person events. Membertou will continue along its road to success, and we continuously envision a great future through the voices of our youth and our education graduates. We will always make the growth and success of Membertou our priority.