Membertou is an urban and progressive Mi’kmaq community located on Unama’ki – Cape Breton Island.
With a strong focus on community growth through economic development, the spirit of Membertou is driven by its close-knit and vibrant people.
Membertou, named after Grand Chief Membertou (1510-1611), is one of five Mi’kmaq communities in Cape Breton and one of thirteen Mi’kmaq communities within the province of Nova Scotia. Membertou is an ever-expanding community, and its current population is 1,695, which includes both on and off-reserve members.
Today, sitting atop a hill, just three kilometres from Sydney’s downtown core, Membertou wasn’t always in its current location. The community was moved from its original location, Kun’tewiktuk (also known as King’s Road Reserve) in 1926 by the Exchequer Court of Canada; the very first time in Canadian history that an Indigenous community was legally forced to relocate.
Three decades ago, Membertou was on a steady path of economic decline; unemployment rates were high and community morale was low.
In 1995, Membertou had 37 employees and was operating on a $4-million budget while dealing with a $1-million annual operating deficit.
Chief Terrance J. Paul and his council decided that it was time for a much-needed change – a new opportunity for the community. With great determination, Chief Terry and the Membertou Council recruited band members, who left the community years prior to pursuing their education and were employed throughout Canada.
By getting its financials in order, while embracing transparency and accountability, the newly formed leadership of Membertou decided that this unprecedented approach was necessary to effect sustainable change. This task required sacrifice but also generated a renewed sense of accomplishment (deficit eliminated) and discipline that quickly earned the respect of external parties in government and industry.
Membertou set a goal of generating new revenue streams as a way to diminish dependence on government transfers by making three strategic decisions:
Since that time, Membertou has flourished into what it is today – a thriving and progressive community. The budget has grown into a current 112-million-dollar operating budget and the number of employees increased from 37 to nearly 600, which includes community and non-community members.
In March 2019, led by the vision of Chief Terry, Membertou Development Corporation was named as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies; the first Mi’kmaq Corporation to be honoured with the Best Managed designation.
As Membertou continues to grow, it provides its community members with new and aspiring opportunities, whether its education, employment or cultural workshops and also shares a unique bond that encourages leadership for a better future.
Our ancestors from the King’s Road Reserve believed that the Mi’kmaq of Membertou combined the Indigenous and non-Indigenous worlds together. Today, Membertou practices that through its community motto – Welcoming the World.
Total number of population
This includes on and off-reserve, community members
Total number of births
January 1st 2020 to present day (August 2021)
Total number of graduates
High school graduates
In Membertou, we strive to be an organization dedicated to corporate social responsibility by giving back to local charities throughout the year.
In Membertou, we’re proud to support community programming that works for children in our community. The United Way Gala provides funding to Cape Breton’s child poverty strategy and our sponsorship of this program means more children in need are impacted.
As Prime Ribber sponsor, Membertou is proud to be the title sponsor for this annual community event that provides support for Caleb’s Courage through the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation.
In 2019, Membertou’s multi-year sponsorship commitment will reach $40,000; with proceeds supporting healthcare in Cape Breton.
The Membertou Entertainment Centre has donated approximately $1,000,000.00 dollars to local charities in the CBRM since 2007. Please visit the MEC website for the list of charities at www.mecbingo.com