Membertou First Nation

The road to prosperity starts here

See video transcript

You can hear the sounds of success everywhere in Membertou. From new roads and housing to the construction of a new sports complex and convention centre, the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia community is building a bright future.

The challenge

Membertou didn’t always have it so good. The community experienced high unemployment and poverty.

To try to develop the economy, Membertou was using loans with five-year terms for over 20 years. “We were asset rich but cash poor,” explains Mike McIntyre, CFO and community member. “Loans amortized over five years don’t do much for your cash flow.”

The action

Membertou First Nation - FMS Certificate

Chief Terrance Paul made it his mission to change things for the better. He put together a team and started with improving the way the Nation’s finances were managed.

For three years, Council and staff members worked closely with the First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB) to set up the good governance and finance practices it needed to achieve its goals.

And in 2015, Membertou made history. It became the first in Canada to earn a Financial Management System Certificate through the FMB.

Membertou First Nation - Terrance Paul

If you don’t try, it won’t happen. — Chief Terrance Paul

The outcome

The Certificate is much more than a hard-earned piece of paper. It shows that the 1,400-strong community has taken their future into their own hands.

“It’s very significant and very meaningful to our community here in Membertou,” Chief Terrance Paul. “It shows visibly with the people, the children, and the level of economic activity. It excites people here and they are very proud to be members of Membertou.”

Membertou now has good governance and finance practices, policies, and procedures in place. These help them run their First Nation smoothly. The Nation can now borrow on better terms to pay for needed projects, expand services, and plan for the future.

If you ever want your community to grow and prosper FMS Certification is absolutely necessary. You need to develop community infrastructure before you can develop on-reserve economic infrastructure. You need FMS Certification. — Mike McIntyre

The Nation now saves $140,000 a month in interest repayments. This is money they can re-invest in the community.