This month will mark Port Hawkesbury’s first time hosting the annual One Cape Breton: Future Forward Leaders’ Summit.

PORT HAWKESBURY: This month municipal and First Nations leaders from throughout Cape Breton will come together in Port Hawkesbury.

On November 23 and 24, Port Hawkesbury will host the “2017 One Cape Breton: Future Forward Leaders’ Summit.” This will be Port Hawkesbury’s first time hosting the annual conference, which was first held in 2012. It is an opportunity for elected officials from Cape Breton’s five municipalities, as well as municipal staff, to gather and discuss issues that affect the region.

“This year, we want to include all of our elected leaders from our five municipalities, and also our five First Nations,” said Port Hawkesbury mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who met with Cape Breton’s First Nations leaders to invite them to take part.

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“I think that if we are to take a look at our island through a regional lens, then we need to have all of our leaders at the table. It will be the first year that we will have that full participation which I feel has been a little bit of a gap in the past.”

All five Unama’ki leaders agreed to participate in the summit, and Chief Rod Googoo of Waycobah First Nation will co-host the event with Mayor Chisholm-Beaton.

The summit will be facilitated by Danny Graham and his team from Engage Nova Scotia. During the day, leaders will participate in discussions on challenges facing the region. On the evening of November 23, the conference will open up to community stakeholders. The evening will include a keynote address by Senator Dan Christmas. Another highlight of the evening will be the finale of the Start-up Port Hawkesbury contest, a Dragon’s Den-style entrepreneurship competition that has taken place over the last several months.

The mayor said she is excited for leaders from around the region to see the finale of Start-Up Port Hawkesbury and hopes that it will inspire them to try something similar in their own communities.

“It’s something that we can do from the grassroots level that’s going to stimulate our economy in a real, tangible way,” said Chisholm-Beaton.

The town has invited a variety of stakeholders to attend, including representatives from school and health boards, as well as private businesses.

“Since we do have this unique opportunity to have all of our island leaders in one space, then it would be a great idea to have all of our island stakeholders as well, and to give them an opportunity to network with all of our leaders,” said Chisholm-Beaton.

The mayor says discussion topics at the summit may include tackling Cape Breton’s declining population, stimulating economic growth, and promoting community health and wellness. She would like to see participants come up with solutions that they can implement within their communities.

“We’re really excited about the kinds of conversations that will arise through this process,” she said.

For information on evening events at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre on November 23, contact Dawna MacDonald at: dmacdonald@townofph.ca or 902-625-7893.