Chief Terrance J. Paul
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Cape Breton University is honoured to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Chief Terrance Paul, whose effort and determination to succeed are transforming the Membertou First Nation. Chief Paul is a well-respected leader, visionary and proponent for his community and particularly its youth.
Chief Terrance Paul is a dedicated and highly respected Canadian leader. He has been instrumental in facilitating economic development, advancement and opportunity for his community and the Mi’kmaw First Nation.
Chief Paul began his career with the Boston Indian Council in the early seventies, where he acquired extensive knowledge of administrative and financial management. He was originally hired as a Job Placement Officer and was quickly promoted to Director of Finance, eventually becoming President of the Council. It did not take Chief Paul long to make an impression and gain the respect of his peers.
After leaving Boston, Chief Paul served the Membertou First Nation as an Economic Development Officer and Band Manager, before being elected Chief in 1984. He is an innovative, strong and unyielding advocate for the recognition of Mi’kmaw Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. As Chief, he was one of the original founders of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association and assisted the group to grow from seven members at inception, to presently greater than fifty Aboriginal corporations across Canada.
Throughout his many dedicated years as Chief, he has been the driving force behind Membertou’s success, doubling the land base and increasing the employment rate within Membertou to nearly 80 per cent. The evolution of business and community development in Membertou is a testament to Chief Paul’s leadership and the confidence he has in his people and they have in him.
Under Chief Paul’s leadership Membertou opened a corporate office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Corporate Division forms the foundation for economic development efforts in Membertou. With a commitment to meeting the opportunities and challenges in the global economy, it was instrumental in instilling a corporate mindset for Membertou through its attainment of ISO 9000: 2001 certification. Membertou is the first Aboriginal government in the world to attain this certification. Since the creation of the corporate division, Membertou has developed several businesses and there are no signs of slowing down in the near future.
Financial sustainability, family, community, culture and the commitment to preserve his people’s language and history are top priorities for Chief Paul. He continues to exemplify humble dedication and determination to the successful future for youth and his community. Chief Paul also assisted Donald Marshall Jr. in his successful Supreme Court defense of the Mi'kmaq Treaty Rights to fish, which resulted in approximately $600 million dollars in benefits for the Mi'kmaq people.
Chief Paul’s commitment, perseverance, ingenuity and confidence in his people have guided Membertou to become one of the most progressive, efficient, and sustainable First Nation communities in the country. Additionally, Chief Paul is a tremendous friend and supporter of Cape Breton University. He is a member of the University’s Shannon School of Business Advisory Board and offers his expertise and knowledge to the School and its students.
Cape Breton University conferred the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on a man who has a vision for his community, a connection to its people and a natural ability to lead others and make a difference with his work, Chief Terrance Paul.