Membertou home to Canada Post's second community hub model
Community hub model has only been used in one other Canadian community so far
Dozens of people gathered Friday morning for the grand opening of Membertou's first post office.
It's only the second time Canada Post has opened a post office that's also designed to be a community hub. The pilot project kicked off last November with the opening of a new post office in High Prairie, Alta.
The pilot is aimed at providing more services in First Nations, as well as remote, northern and rural communities.
"The post office of yesterday is evolving into something very different," said Canada Post CEO Doug Ettinger, who spoke at the grand opening in Membertou.
"There's a lot of e-commerce business, a lot of parcel shipments going on. So this is one of our pilot opportunities to learn more about what Canadians need."
Besides its usual offerings, the new post office includes meeting space and boardrooms, business supplies, an ATM, a charging station for electric vehicles, and a soundproof room for podcasting. It's also home to another Canada Post pilot project offering personal loans through TD Bank.
Membertou Chief Terry Paul said these are all things the community needs and will be making use of.
"We also have a number of employees from the community that are working here and we're very proud of that, and I'm sure that we'll be able to get services not only in English, but in Mi'kmaq when it's required. So it's a really good fit for us," said Paul.
Paul said many entrepreneurs in the community use Canada Post to ship products, and the pandemic left them relying on the postal service more than ever.
Ettinger said Canada Post saw a jump in shipping during the pandemic, with many post offices dealing with Christmas-level volumes all year-round. However, with more private shipping companies than ever, he said it's important for Canada Post to stay competitive.
"That's why we're trying to test some of these new concepts to appeal to Canadians whose needs have changed," he said.
Part of the pilot project has its roots in reconciliation, said Dale LeClair, Canada Post's director of Indigenous and northern affairs.
He said there are over 6,000 retail outlets in the country, but when he started with the company three years ago, only 100 of them were located in First Nations.
"We needed to come into the communities and plant ourselves, work with communities, listen to communities, what were their needs and what did we need to do to make this relationship better," said LeClair.
LeClair said it was the community that requested many of the amenities available in the post office.
The space is also decorated with photos of artifacts from nearby Membertou Heritage Park, a large image of a stamp of Chief Membertou, and copies of artwork by the late Dozay Christmas.
Following another community suggestion, employee name tags were beaded locally by Jocelyn Marshall and special name tags were presented to both Paul and Ettinger.