Big Ideas: $100,000


Please describe your idea including how it will make your community better together:
Nestled alongside the beautiful Bras d'Or Lake in Eastern Cape Breton Island, Eskasoni First Nation is the largest Mi'kmaq community in the world. Deeply rooted here is our Mi'kmaq culture. We are proud to say that we are home to the largest Mi'kmaq speaking community with close ties to traditional culture and beliefs.
We have made great strides in developing a solid infrastructure on which to grow and prosper including our own community-operated school system from kindergarten to grade 12, supermarket, community rink and cultural centre. In our community we need a safe, affordable and reliable public transportation. The Aviva Community fund would help weave a safe connection throughout the community.
The community of Eskasoni has a proud history of supporting its young population with events that promote a healthy and active lifestyle among its 4,000 community members. With a dedication to improving the lives of its future generation, the Eskasoni community strives to be culturally rich and respectful of its ecosystem based on concepts of shared responsibility.

Eskasoni service providers are using a common research and evaluation program that was co-developed with, youth, families/carers, and service providers, to evaluate how they provide their services. ACCESS Open Minds is generating new knowledge about youth mental health services in diverse contexts across Canada to ensure that Canadian youth receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Despite the strength and resources we currently have in our community, there are some challenges. Eskasoni FN has the highest poverty and unemployment rates in NS. According to the 2017 report card on child and family poverty in NS, Eskasoni is rated as having the highest poverty rate in NS with 72.7%. In addition, over 50% of the population is under the age of 25. Transportation has been highlighted as a barrier to service and a historical problem for children, youth, and families in community to access services. During a recent inter-agency meeting regarding early intervention resource it was identified by several organizations that transportation is a costly barrier to services.
Our initiative would seek to fill a gap- within the community. Our goal as services providers is to help people to stay independent, participate in their communities and access vital public services and employment. The Eskasoni Community connection (ECC) would represent and support other organizations and agencies within community who all provide transport services that fulfill a social purpose and community benefit. With the funds provided we would strive for accessible and inclusive transport. To ensure the success of this project it will be rolled out in 2 phases:
Phase 1: procure a used mini-van, find/hire/train staff, create dispatch/scheduling system, signage throughout the community, Eskasoni TV announcements, and community meetings to explain the rules, scheduling, stops, and fees. The ECC will have regularly scheduled designated stops throughout the community, connecting one end other community to the other.
1. Goat Island
2. New Eskasoni Health Center
3. Community Store- Eskasoni Trading Post 4. Old Health Center 5. Band Offices 6. ACCESS Youth Space Phase 2: once we are up and running consistently and seamlessly eventually want to add a weekly bus to Sydney, NS which is approximately 45 minutes away.
In order to maintain up-keep, we would like to leverage the Aviva community fund as a social enterprise to provide job opportunities for youth in the community with the eligible qualifications. This meets a community identified need, as well as, provides much need employment for youth while simultaneously providing a service to children youth and families to access services they’ve been unable to access in the past.

Broker supported

Eskasoni Band and Council

Location: Eskasoni