AFN Regional Chief NB PEI
Roger J. Augustine
“We must look at Canada as a village, and contribute as much as we can to be leaders within our communities,” Augustine says. “Through friendship gatherings like the Fishermen’s Powwow in Miramichi, the many cultures that call this land home celebrate each other. This collective spirit of peace and friendship reminds us that, when the drums begin to beat, we all march together.”
It’s sunrise on Eel Ground First Nation, and Roger Augustine, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, is walking along a path beside the Miramichi River. This river — this land — is home, not only to him but also to the collective spirit of more than 200 generations of his Mi'kmaq ancestors.
“I feel their presence,” Augustine says. “They balance me. Life has taught me to trust my warrior spirit — the spirit of peace and friendship I have inherited from them — and to let that spirit inspire my thoughts and guide each step I take.”
Augustine’s warrior spirit has guided him along many paths. A tireless advocate for education and training for aboriginal youth, he has been involved in politics, economic development, and the environment, and he has a special interest in addictions treatment. After receiving specialized training in drug and alcohol education from St. Francis Xavier University, he made enormous strides in dealing with addiction in his community.
Augustine is also a trained mediator specializing in alternative dispute resolution. Knowledge gained from his studies in conflict management and mediation at the University of Waterloo enable him to take on critical roles in crisis situations. “My spirit guides me to negotiate in peace and friendship, as a way to build cross-cultural relationships.”
Augustine believes that respect, openness of spirit, and effective communication bring balance to sociocultural conflicts and success to business partnerships. That's why he, along with four other respected Canadian aboriginal leaders, founded GITPO, a partnership that provides natural-resource and economic-development projects with services such as negotiation, capital investment, engineering and more. Augustine serves as its chair.
As a co-founder of the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC), the political voice for First Nations Chiefs in Atlantic Canada, Augustine uses his training, depth of knowledge and balanced approach to ensure openness and dialogue. In 1981, he was one of several dozen representative chiefs from across Canada who signed the historic Declaration of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
In 2014, Augustine received the Order of New Brunswick for his efforts in improving the well-being of First Nations communities and strengthening relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.