Terrance Paul began his career with the Boston Indian Council in the early seventies, where he acquired extensive knowledge of administrative and financial management. After leaving Boston, he served the Membertou First Nation as an Economic Development Officer and Band Manager. Upon his election as Chief of Membertou in 1984, he knew he wanted something different for his people. With a four million dollar budget and one million annual operating deficit, change was a must. To ignite this change, Chief Paul recruited band members who had left their community to pursue education and employment around the country. He asked them to return to help him build the community and change the way that business was done.
With a focus on sound leadership principles, transparency and accountability, Membertou was able to forge a new economic frontier, a frontier which incorporates the innovations of a modern economy, with Indigenous knowledge rooted in principles of conservation, sustainability of resources and reverence for both land and waters. The community uses sustainability, conservation, innovation and success as its “pillars for achievement,” and incorporates these business principles into their daily business practices. These pillars embrace a “Treaty Economy” perspective, including Canadian First Nations and Native American people’s to create sustainable economic growth. Under Chief Paul’s leadership, Membertou has also doubled its community land base.
Chief Paul 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. Chief Paul also sits on two national boards- he is the Chair of the First Nations Finance Authority Board and a member of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.
In addition to his dedication to economic development within his community, Chief Paul knows the value of a good education and is a strong supporter of Cape Breton University. He is an Honorary Degree recipient; a member of the University’s Shannon School of Business Advisory Board and offers his expertise and knowledge to the School and its students. He strongly believes the youth of Membertou are the future of the community, preparing them through education and training remains a top priority.