Jerome Bear becomes Mayor of Dorchester
On Thursday June 7th Jerome Bear was sworn in as the Mayor of Dorchester, and as the first Native Mayor of Dorchester, and one of only a few in the history of New Brunswick, the ceremony was quietly emotional.
The ceremony took place in St. Edwards’ Hall, a bright and spacious A frame building in Dorchester’s village center.
The audience, though small, was in a celebratory mood, listening to the Mayor’s acceptance speech over the squealing of playing children.
J.J. Bear’s speech was succinct and humble, thanking the people of Dorchester for their confidence in him and relating how his grandparents were instrumental in teaching him the importance of the personal characteristics of honesty and respect. Bear also thanked his Fort Folly “brothers and sisters” for making him feel welcome when he moved there in 1993.
Bear ended his speech by promising to protect the interests of the people of Dorchester against the “major changes in acts and policies that will affect municipalities all over this province “and he promised that the council will “ensure that our voice is heard by our MLA’s and the Premier”.
Bear promised the local citizens that he would remain open and honest, inviting citizens to attend council meetings and ask questions.
After Bear’s speech the audience was treated to two ceremonial songs. Six men, (two of them Bear’s brothers) sang and beat on one large drum. The effect was of a strong battle cry, with the regular beat and chanting song being amped up intermittently by the largest man of the group who beat out six notes with such strength and power that the building shook.
J.J. ( as he is known locally) Bear has been an active member of the Dorchester Fire Department for 15 years, only stepping down now to give more time to his role as Mayor. He has been the Deputy Mayor for Dorchester council for the last four years and is ready to take on the role of Mayor.
Bear’s main concern is the provincial government’s cuts to the municipalities, saying, “I don’t like where it is going”. Many people in the community fear that that Dorchester Consolidated School will be lost in further cost cutting measures and Dorchester council is exploring methods of protecting and preserving their school. “The Dorchester Consolidated School is a major symbol in this community”, says Bear, “and we need to ensure that it stays part of this community for years to come”.