This Profile of Effective Practice is one of fifteen stories examining how innovative, community-based initiatives are using comprehensive approaches to improve social and economic conditions on a local level.
The Mi'kmaq people have inhabited the land in Prince Edward Island for over 10,000 years.
Lennox Island First Nation is the first reserve in Canada owned by its people, having been purchased in 1878 from landlords by the Aboriginal Protection Society. It is the seat of the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI. It has an on reserve population of 320, and off-reserve population of 720. Over 60% of the population is under the age of 35, so retaining youth is a key strategy.
After much federal government intervention, in 1969 the community began to take a more active role in its development. In 1972-73 a bridge was built to Lennox Island, which opened the community to more trade opportunities and to freer travel. In the 1970s a comprehensive development plan was created. Various business initiatives were tried. In the 1980s the Mahemigew Corporation tried to develop oyster beds that got crushed in the ice flows, organic blueberries were developed before the market did, and a peat moss operation got flooded with seawater. Despite these setbacks, there was a continuous effort to try. With the Marshall Decision in 1999, a native fishery was born alongside the growing rights agenda. This is the key context of Lennox Island First Nation - a community with great history and great firsts, and a desire to experiment within a background of new opportunity.