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by Annette Verschuren
Bet On Me with Annette Verschuren

Four Decades of Visionary Leadership: A story of resilience with Chief Terry Paul


In this episode, I speak with who I believe to be one of the most incredible leaders in our country. Terry Paul is the Chief of Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton Island/ Unama'ki, a position he has held since 1984. During this time, Chief Paul has guided his community and administration into one of the most open and efficient First Nation communities in the country.

Chief Paul has served on numerous boards and task forces and is one of the original founders of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association (NACCA), which started out as seven Aboriginal corporations and has grown to over 50 Aboriginal financial institutions across the country.

He has achieved many inspiring accomplishments in his current role, including doubling the land base for the community of Membertou and increasing the employment rate within Membertou to nearly 80% in the community.

To change their community, the Chief and Council started restructuring the band’s administration, adopting the principles of efficiency and openness from the corporate world. Membertou became transparent with its finances and aggressively pro-business, seeking opportunities wherever they appeared.

On March 7, 2019, Chief Terry Paul announced that Membertou Development Corporation was awarded the designation of one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, and this past year in 2021, the remarkable four-decade-long transformation of the community reached a new milestone with Membertou’s co-ownership of the largest shellfish producer in North America, Clearwater Seafoods. Chief Paul led the $1-billion deal to buy the Halifax-based company on behalf of seven Mi’kmaq First Nations along with Premium Brands Holdings Corp., a specialty food company based in B.C.

Throughout all of this growth and change, Community has always been at the heart of everything they do in Membertou. Community drives decision-making, thought, and most importantly, action.

Chief Paul is a hardworking and gutsy leader. His determination, vision and bold leadership have helped create one of the most prosperous and forward-thinking First Nation communities in our Country. I know this conversation will leave all of you feeling touched, encouraged and inspired to make a difference in your own community or organization.


Episode 6

Season 1

by Annette Verschuren