Sacha LaBillois Kennedy

Former intern becomes national nominee for EDO of the year

Sacha Labillois Kennedy

Sacha LaBillois Kennedy's work with the Eel River Bar First Nation has earned her a nomination for Cando's economic development officer of the year.

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

New Brunswick’s Eel River Bar First Nation continues to undergo some changes. And Sacha LaBillois Kennedy can take her share of credit for that. That’s because she has served as the economic development officer of the First Nation since Feburary of 2008.

For her efforts in bringing various business opportunities to her community, LaBillois Kennedy has been nominated as Cando’s economic development officer (EDO) of the year.

Cando, the national organization that promotes Indigenous economic development, has also announced its nominations for community of the year and for those in the Aboriginal Private Sector Business award. Winners will be honoured during the Cando Conference, which will be staged in late October in Fredericton, N.B.

The Eel River Bar First Nation does have some noteworthy upcoming developments in the works. Labillois Kennedy has also been kept rather busy with smaller projects.

“It’s mostly getting individual entrepreneurs set up,” she said. Since 2003 the First Nation has also operated the Osprey Truck Stop. “Aside from our fisheries, that is the biggest business in the community,” said LaBillois Kennedy.

The truck stop includes a full service fuel centre, some gaming (video lottery terminals), a convenience store as well as a fully-licensed restaurant. Though she was not the Eel River Bar EDO at the time, LaBillois Kennedy was working for the First Nation as a student when plans for the truck stop on the First Nation were being developed. Back then the First Nation employed her through an Aboriginal youth internship program operated by the Joint Economic Development Initiative.

LaBillois Kennedy also played an instrumental role in having her community’s Aboriginal Heritage Garden reopened earlier this decade. The facility, which had been closed for a number of years, is a tourism site because of its garden and also hosts various workshops and the First Nation’s annual pow wow.

LaBillois Kennedy and other First Nation officials are also busy with future growth. They are currently working on getting 70 acres of land, adjacent to the truck stop, designated for economic development.