New Little Narrows Ferry Named for Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy

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New Little Narrows Ferry Named for Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy

by ahnationtalk on May 11, 202256 Views

May 11, 2022

The new ferry that crosses Little Narrows between Inverness County and Victoria County will be named the Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy to honour a steadfast, compassionate leader of the Mi’kmaw Nation.

The Department of Public Works held a contest involving the We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School in Whycocomagh and the Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona to name the new Little Narrows ferry. The successful submission came from Grade 8 student August Francis at We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School.

“A special thanks to the teachers, staff and students at both schools for participating in the ferry-naming contest,” said Public Works Minister Kim Masland. “We had some great suggestions. However, Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy stood out. He was well respected and committed to serving his community and the Mi’kmaw people. A residential school survivor, Grand Chief Sylliboy promoted Mi’kmaw language, culture and spirituality and played an important role in advancing reconciliation. Above all else, he was a wise, humble and caring leader who treated everyone with kindness and respect.”

Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy of We’koqma’q First Nation died in 2017 at the age of 76.

The new Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy ferry will begin crossing later this spring.


My husband Ben was known to be kind, generous and humble. He used the ferry many times, whether for business to attend meetings or for pleasure to catch ball games or enjoy the scenic route. May the future crossings of the Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy honour his spirit, reconciliation and community service. We would like to personally thank August Francis of We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School for his kind words and submission. We are extremely grateful, Paqsitpi Wela’liek. And a special thanks to Department of Public Works, Wela’liek. Marie Sylliboy, wife of Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy

“Hearing the name of the new Little Narrows Ferry was a great honour for our people. With all the different things that are happening to our people, good and bad, this is one of many steps to reconciliation. Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy was always there for everyone, and he is still going to be here helping people to get to where they are going.”

John Bernard, Principal, We’koqma’q Mikmaw School

Quick Facts:

  • the Little Narrows ferry provides an important transportation link in central Cape Breton, serving many workers in the area and providing shorter routes for emergency vehicles
  • the Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy will replace the Caolas Silis (Gaelic for Julia’s Strait), a 32-year-old, 12-car cable ferry
  • the new 15-car cable ferry cost about $6 million, with the federal and provincial governments each funding about $3 million
  • the new ferry will provide a reliable service for the next 40 years and have lower operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions

Additional Resources:

Nova Scotia provincial ferries:



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