Dean Johnson, left, president of Sodexo Canada presents  first AEDC award to Dan Christmas, special advisor for Membertou First Nation. At right is JP Gladu, CEO and president of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.   – Photo courtesy CCAB

Dean Johnson, left, president of Sodexo Canada presents first AEDC award to Dan Christmas, special advisor for Membertou First Nation. At right is JP Gladu, CEO and president of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. – Photo courtesy CCAB

CALGARY – Membertou First Nation has been recognized for operating the outstanding Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation in Canada.

The Mi’kmaw community – one of five in Cape Breton – received the inaugural AEDC award at a May 13th event hosted by the Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business.

Over the last ten years, under the leadership of Chief Terrance Paul, the Membertou Band has gone from 37 employees on a $4 million budget and a deficit of $1 million to a current 550
employees on a $112 million budget and zero deficit.

Membertou is located three kilometres from downtown Sydney, Nova Scotia, and has a population of 1260.

The Membertou Development Corporation was successful in diversifying its economy, including becoming ISO 9001 certified and creating a convention centre, gaming centre, business centre and many other investments within the community. The most recent addition is the Hampton Inn by Hilton Membertou, which opened in 2012.

The corporation attributes its success to three strategic decisions: incorporating business innovation with indigenous knowledge-based principles of conservation and sustainability; increasing its profile with major private sector companies by launching the Membertou Corporate Office in downtown Halifax in 2000;  and initiating education and career training programs for its residents in order to maximize employment opportunities within the newly-forged business partnerships.