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CMM Earns Reimagining Workplace Award

A combination of service to community and to the quality of life of its own employees earned The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq the Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia (IONS) Reimagining Work Award.

The award was presented to a delegation of CMM team members and Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Tamara Young, who attended the three-day IONS Exchange 2024 event in Membertou, recognizing the top rate workplace culture The CMM exemplifies in its communities – and its own offices.

Exchange 2024

At the three-day celebration at the Eltuek Arts Centre and the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, the CMM’s delegation was presented with a painting from Loretta Gould and acknowledged by IONS for its achievements in front of an audience of around 200 people.

“I had an amazing time at my first Exchange 2024,” said Trina Khattar, Director of DCSI and a member of The CMM’s delegation.

“I felt very welcomed with my team and developed many friendships as well.”

In addition to the awards ceremony, in which second-place recognition was given to New Glasgow’s Summer Street Industries, IONS hosted numerous workshops to engage applicants for the award on May 13 and 14.

These workshops included a series of table talks with experts in various fields called ‘human libraries,’ in which those experts shared insights with guests.

‘Human libraries’ included a variety of discussions from a beading workshop to discussions of good governance and the applications of artificial intelligence in the workplace.

Exchange 2024 also included a panel discussion, through which dignitaries discussed the pros and cons of a four-day work week.

During the May 13th award ceremony, Chief Young accepted a painting by Loretta Gould from IONS staff.

“It felt like a relaxed environment,” said Young of Exchange 2024.

“The human library experience was different but interesting. It gave people a chance to be heard which I think is what we all really want.”

The events and workshops were officiated by Elders L’lun (Lawrence) Wells and Mary Louise Bernard, opened and closed with traditional drumming performances and the Honour Song.


It’s an understatement to say Murphy, who was among The CMM delegates present in Membertou to accept the award, is excited to watch The CMM receive the award.

Speaking to Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Nations News shortly before the May 12-14 IONS Exchange Gathering award ceremony, she said, “I was telling people I want that award so bad.”

While applying, Murphy, HR Outreach Coordinator with The CMM, kept an open mind about the outcome, noting that even if The CMM didn’t clinch first place, she was interested in seeing and learning from what other organizations were up – and how it earned them recognition.

“I was telling people, if there are other organizations that are doing something better than we are, then let’s learn from them, and what they’re doing,” Murphy said.

Murphy noted she is happy to set an example of how to integrate culture into the workplace.


The road to Exchange 2024 began when CMM Executive Director Angie Gillis noticed a call for applications for the award and suggested applying for the award to Lisa Murphy.

“Angie just sent an email and said, ‘Should we throw our hats into the ring?’ I said absolutely and that’s when I started to write the things down that we do,” said Murphy.

Murphy recalled a straightforward and simple application process, compiling information on what the CMM has been doing for its workplace culture.

Murphy sang the praises The CMM in the application she prepared, pointing to the many initiatives the nonprofit implemented to promote work-life balance and morale among employees, with respect for Indigenous culture.

These initiatives include, but are not limited to, a four-day work week; work-from-home options during poor inclement weather; encouragement to attend cultural events during work hours; promotion of culture and spiritual well being with an Elder in residence, HVAC tech that allows for smudging; leave policies that don’t fall within colonial parameters; paid shutdowns twice a year; a social committee to enhance work culture and internal training opportunities.

It took about a month from the point Murphy decided to apply, to the moment she submitted the application.

She stressed the importance of spreading the word about the lengths to which The CMM goes, to serve its member communities and give its employees a good place to work.

“Coming from my last job into here, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what a difference.’ It was like night and day,” Murphy said.

“(The award) shows how much of a good job we’re doing, supporting our community and our employees.

Reimagining Work

Clary Chambers, Engagement Lead with IONS, said it was difficult choosing a winner, because The CMM is one of many community impact organizations in Nova Scotia that cares a great deal about its employees.

“Where The CMM really stands out is that they are not only doing amazing work in community, but also bringing that same level of reimagining and support to their internal workplace. That’s what we really wanted to highlight with that award, specifically,” Chambers said.

It was a “beautiful coincidence,” Chambers noted, that the event took place in Membertou, with a First Nations nonprofit receiving the award.

“The last gathering was in the Halifax area, so to receive so many people in the place I call home and to see everyone traveling from all parts of the province was great.”

The IONS Reimagining Work Award “recognizes an impact organization in Nova Scotia that demonstrates exceptional practices for justice and equity in their workplace,” states information released by IONS ahead of Exchange 2024.

IONs accounts for unique leadership structures, and practices that enable staff wellness and polices that bring out the best in people, when choosing a recipient for the award.

Impact organizations, such as nonprofits and charities are selected for the award, acknowledging their provision of critical services and solutions for social and environmental challenges – and communities affected by them, and the award is given acknowledging that there are many pressures for resources in work that is often undervalued, leading to stress and other challenges.

The award acknowledges the value of a welcoming workplace, which values the opportunity for transformation, serving both the community and its own employees.

While the event celebrated serious action taken by employers in the community service sector, guests also took some time on Sunday night to let loose, cut a rug and dance to the sounds of a set played by Morgan Toney and Keith Mullins.