Land Decolonized Podcast

Trevor Bernard, Executive Director, Membertou First Nation, NS Ep.20

April 21, 2021 First Nation Land Management Resource Centre Season 1 Episode 20
Land Decolonized Podcast
Trevor Bernard, Executive Director, Membertou First Nation, NS Ep.20
Show Notes

After 2000 downloads of the podcast, our 20th episode takes us to the thriving community of Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia! Richard interviews Trevor Bernard, a lawyer, and Executive Director who has watched his community's transformation over the last 30 years. This community was the first in Nova Scotia to pass a land code and did so with a large amount of community engagement and a vision for prioritizing self-government initiatives and embracing a new level of jurisdiction. This approach has been a compliment to their growing business presence and strategy for making Membertou a true destination in the region.

1:19   Trevor describes Membertou's location within Sydney, Cape Breton.
2:26  Membertou bought parcels of land that were once its home community before a forced re-location.
3:24   As ED, he oversees most of the band's government programs and provides legal counsel and is experienced in the land code process. He oversees the lands department. Became operational in 2019. Began exploring the process in 2010 and became developmental in 2012.
5:54   Why it took longer than first thought to become 'operational'.
7:35   Trevor describes their unique approach to community education over the framework agreement. It all started with talks over a connector road. Membertou was developing its brand as 'a destination' with subsequent business interests who wanted to locate there. Key was to assert more jurisdiction outside the Indian Act.
10:14   Formation of a governance committee open to all members. That group took ownership and helped inform others about the framework agreement.
14:45   There was some concern about banks' ability to foreclose but people were reassured that it was not part of land code.
16:49   Trevor went to law school in 1991 and thought he would never return due to poverty and indebtedness. Not much was going on. Then - the transformation! More fiscal resources meant less reliance on Ottawa.
20:25   Land Code lays down values and principles around land management so it is crucial to other laws, certificate of possession, zoning, etc.
23:20   Additions to reserve and aggressive residential development.
25:26   Now with the ability to operate at the speed of business. Eg: Hampton Inn development.
28:50.  His predictions over the future now that 100th community is about to go operational. Gives shoutout to Resource Centre staff for their help and expertise. Membertou would not be there in land management without them!
31:36   Richard's extra and call-to-action.

Twitter: @mb2law
First Nation Land Management Resource Centre:
Membertou First Nation website: