Inverness County wants more young families and stronger ties with First Nations

A partnership has been launched among municipalities and First Nations communities in western Cape Breton in hopes of making the region more family-friendly. 

Inverness and Victoria counties, the town of Port Hawkesbury, along with the Wagmatcook and Waycobah First Nations are participating in a grassroots movement called "Raising the Villages."

The goal is to support the early years of life by making communities more welcoming to families with young children.

"As communities and citizens, to come together and give our young children the best start — that's really what this is about," said Jim Mustard, the Inverness County councillor who is spearheading the project.

Inverness County has committed $13,000 for the project. The money will be used to determine what supports exist for young families and what more is needed.

"What that represents is a dollar for every citizen that we're committing to the process of understanding what's working, what's maybe not there for families with young children and what do we want to see," said Mustard.

He has started meeting with the other municipal and First Nations partners to request further funding.

A ceremony during Monday's Inverness County council meeting, involving Mi'kmaq drumming and singing, was both a chance to formally launch the project and celebrate the cross-cultural collaboration.

"It's also a point of reconciliation, that we are open to learning and growing the relationships and the partnerships with our First Nations that for too long maybe haven't been officially opened," said Mustard.