Business Network for Aboriginal Youth
Year 2 Opening Gathering: Diversity in Business - December 2012
The Business Network for Aboriginal Youth (BNAY) is a mentorship program linking 30 Aboriginal high schools students from across Nova Scotia with 6 Aboriginal business mentors. The BNAY was established in 2011 by the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at Cape Breton University (CBU). This is year 2 of a 2 year pilot program funded by the Province of Nova Scotia, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, and Bell Mobility.
From late September to early October, 131 students from 25 high schools in Nova Scotia applied for 30 spots in year two of the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth (BNAY). Following the application process, which involved the submission of a two-page application and a letter of recommendation from a teacher or community member, 30 First Nation, Inuit, and metis students from 20 high schools across Nova Scotia were chosen. The successful students were notified on October 31st, with plans for the opening gathering in Wagmatcook already well underway. During the four weeks leading up to the opening gathering, students introduced themselves electronically via our Facebook group. With the exception of the 10 returning students, most of the students knew only 1 or 2 other students in the program, if any at all. Once schools and parents were notified, our opening gathering started to become a reality. With the exception of students living in Eskasoni, Membertou, and Potlotek, a charter bus was used to transport students. On November 29th, bus pickups began in Bridgetown at 2pm, and after an additional 9 stops, the students arrived at the Hampton Inn in Membertou at 10pm. Although students were very tired by this point, they were also both excited and nervous to officially start the program. A late night pizza party helped to break the ice!
Day 1 – Opening Gathering
Welcome to CBU
The first part of the day was spent at CBU Campus. Dr. Keith Brown, Purdy Crawford Chair holder, CBU, and John MacKinnon, Dean, Shannon School of Business, CBU, officially welcomed students and mentors to CBU and to year two of the program.
To stay connected between gatherings, all students and mentors received a BlackBerry device. Students will be using the devices to facilitate discussions within their BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) groups (5 students and 1 mentor) and within the larger group (30 students and 6 mentors). In addition, students will be working with their BBM groups on bi-weekly challenges that explore various facets of business. The groups, named for animals in Mi’kmaq are: Kitpu’k (eagles), Lentukk (deer), Muinaq (bears), Paqt
ismu’k (wolves), Tiamuk (moose), and Wowkwisk (foxes). Thanks to elder Jane Meader of Membertou for her assistance with this.
Lead by the CBU Recruitment Department, the group explored the entire campus. Highlights of the tour included the recently opening Shannon School of Business, and visits to Unama’ki College and the Mi’kmaq Resource Centre. Students were very impressed with the Mi’kmaw presence within the CBU community. The tour concluded with a buffet lunch in the dining hall at the Harris Hall residence.
Social Media 101
The remaining time at CBU was spent going over some of the skills students and mentors will require in order to complete challenges while in the program. Students learned how to:
- Access our Facebook group using their BlackBerry
- Create a YouTube account
- Film a video and upload it to YouTube
- Upload a picture to a BBM group
- Create a blog using blogger.com
The purpose of this training session was to ensure that all students and mentors are comfortable using social media in the manner this program requires.
Bus Scavenger Hunt
During the bus ride from CBU to Wagmatcook, students worked in their BBM groups on a scavenger hunt. They were sent via BBM a list of 10 items to watch for, including signage for a hotel, a heritage site, and an eco-tourism business. The winning team was the first group to upload a picture representing each of the 10 items identified. Lentukk were our winners!
Shortly after arriving in Wagmatcook, students, mentors, and a few special guests were treated to a delicious turkey dinner in the Great Hall at the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre (WCHC). Principals and select staff members at the 20 high schools represented in our program this year were invited. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather and the extensive travel that would be involved for some, many invited guests were unable to attend. We were happy, however, to have Theresa MacNeil, Principal, Rankin School of the Narrows, with us.
After dinner, we were very fortunate to have both Wagmatcook Elder Josephine Peck and Waycobah businessman Robert Bernard speak to the students. Josephine spoke to the students about the history of her community, how much it has evolved, and the importance of an education. Robert, who works for the WCHC on a contract basis, in addition to being the owner of Diversity Management Group, spoke to the students about the barriers and challenges he faced while getting an education and building a successful business.
Day 2 – Opening Gathering
Welcome to Wagmatcook
The day commenced with an official welcome from Wagmatcook Chief Norman Bernard. Chief Bernard spoke to the students about how far his community has come from an economic development standpoint. He also expressed how proud he is that so many students from Wagmatcook have been chosen for this program. Five of the 30 students in year 1 of the program were from Wagmatcook. In addition, all three major awards at our final gathering last year were awarded to Wagmatcook students. This year, we are pleased to have 4 students from Wagmatcook, three of whom are returning from last year.
Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni provided our keynote speech, which included a variety of useful messages for youth. He spoke about the factors of success for First Nation communities, the importance of business partnerships, and the value in surrounding yourself with successful business minds, just to name a few. In closing, he acknowledged the 5 students that were chosen for our program – 2 in year 1, and 3 in year 2.
Students were asked to profile an Aboriginal owned business. This activity gave students and mentors an opportunity to learn about a variety of businesses across Nova Scotia, and even a business in an Inuit community. Students had the option of working alone or in a group. Some students chose to use PowerPoint for their presentations and one created a video. The following is a list of the students and the businesses they profiled.
|Students' Names||Name of Business||Location|
|Jillian Michael||RBV Variety||Indian Brook First Nation, NS|
|Laine Foxton & Michaelia Drever||Stone Bear Trails||Bear River First Nation, NS|
|Patrick Denny||Eskasoni Gaming Centre||Eskasoni First Nation|
|Maureen Nicholas||Expedition Gas||Potlotek First Nation, NS|
|Dameon Johnson||Paq'tnkek Gas Bar||Paq'tnkek First Nation, NS|
|Shania Dorey & Kyla Mansfield||Glooscap Health Center||Glooscap First Nation, NS|
|Mika Francis & Alison Toney||Winner Corner||Acadia First Nation, NS|
|Caroline Sylvester & Brad Paul||Membertou Heritage Park||Membertou First Nation, NS|
|Kyle Simon & Colton Francis||Wagmatcook Gift Shop||Wagmatcook First Nation, NS|
|Shania Googoo & Darian Bernard||Waycobah Pizza||Waycobah FIrst Nation, NS|
|Rebecca Peck & Lateesha Denny||Avon Canada||Wagmatcook First Nation, NS|
|Candace Denny & Jody Brooks||Pictou Landing Fisheries||Pictou Landing First Nation, NS|
|Amanda White||G & G Home Heating||Millbrook First Nation, NS|
|Nikko Marshall||Eskasoni Fitness Centre||Eskasoni First Nation, NS|
|David Falls||AFN Keswpuwick Resources||Acadia First Nation, NS|
|Lance Sylliboy||Muin Gas||Eskasoni First Nation, NS|
|Cindy Little & Cecil Doucette||Mikijuq Takeout||Inukjuak, QC|
|Charles Jesso||Distantlink Telecommunications||Lower Sackville, NS|
|Mallory Howe, Marissa Bernard & Cydney Johnson||Glooscap Heritage Centre||Millbrook First Nation, NS|
Marketing Group Activity
After a buffet lunch, students began working in their BBM groups to design a logo unique to their group. They first spent some time brainstorming ideas around what would be most effective and attractive from a marketing perspective. Then, using fabric markers and plain white t-shirts, students began production. The end result was 6 groups with 6 distinct designs. This activity is the introduction of a contest for the closing gathering involving our official logo for the program.
The “Purdy Awards” were first handed out at our opening gathering in year 1 in Membertou. They are named after Purdy Crawford and are awarded at each gathering to recognize a special contribution to the program by a student. At this meeting, three Purdy’s were presented. Shania Googoo and Darian Bernard of Waycobah received Purdy Awards for going above and beyond the expectations for their presentation on Waycobah Pizza. Even though it was not required, they went the extra mile to produce a video of their business profile. The final Purdy for our opening gathering was awarded to Rebecca Peck of Wagmatcook. This past summer, after completing year 1 of the program, she went into business as a part time sales representative for Avon Canada. She is responsible for all marketing and finance activities – pretty impressive for a high school student!
Until the group comes together again in May 2013, social media and BlackBerry technology will be relied on to keep our students connected with their mentors. As mentioned, students will be working on bi-weekly business challenges facilitated by their mentors. The main goal of this program is to help our students explore business opportunities. After spending a few days together, we are well on our way!
November 2012 Update
The Business Network for Aboriginal Youth has been chosen for 2012/13. 30 students from 20 high schools across Nova Scotia will work with 6 Aboriginal mentors to explore the business world. Our first gathering is scheduled for November 30th and December 1st in Wagmatcook. In addition, students will interact via social media on a regular basis.
October 2012 Update
Starting at Sydney Academy on September 20th and ending at Potlotek High School on October 2nd, 24 high schools opened their doors to year 2 of the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth. For those of you who don't know, the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth is a mentorship program that aims to attract grade 10-12 Aboriginal students across Nova Scotia to the study of business at university. 2012/13 will be the second year for this program.
This whirlwind tour of over 4000kms included 7 schools that were not visited last year. The deadline to apply was October 12th. In total, applications were received by 130 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis students from all over Nova Scotia. With so many great applicants, it will be very difficult to choose only 30 students. The current plan is to have the group of 30 chosen by October 31st.
Check out the video that was used to promote the program in schools. The video highlights two of our future business leaders who were part of other program last year: Kyle Simon of Wagmatcook and Jenna Bernard of Membertou. Jenna has since graduated from Sydney Academy and is currently studying business at CBU. Kyle is now in grade 12 at Wagmactookewey School and intends to attend CBU to study business, starting in September 2013. These are just two of our many success stories from last year’s program! What success stories will emerge from year two of the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth?
Final Gathering, Millbrook First Nation
The final gathering for the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth was held on June 1st and 2nd at the Glooscap Heritage Center in Millbrook First Nation. The highlight of the gathering was, without a doubt, the musical performance and keynote speech by Wab Kinew, who is a TV journalist for CBC Winnipeg by day, and a hip hop artist by night.
Saturday was filled with various interactive and educational activities focused on social media and marketing practices. The most impressive was a competition between the students called “Rant Your Resume.” Up for grabs were two bursaries ($1000 & $500) to attend the Shannon School of Business at CBU. In 50 seconds or less, students had to pitch in a “Rick Mercer like” rant why they should be chosen for the award. Winners were chosen by a panel of 4 judges based on style, creativity, uniqueness, and relevance. With very little guidance, the students created fantastic videos showing how confident, well educated, and creative they are. In the end, there was a tie for second place, which meant there were 3 award winners. All three awards winners attend Wagmatcookeway School. Check out their videos by clink their names:
- 1st place: Kyle Simon, Wagmatcookeway School
- 2nd place: Taneillia MacDonald, Wagmatcookeway School
- 2nd place: Peter Simon, Wagmatcookeway School
The Purdy Awards marked the closing of the gathering. A student from each BBM group were awarded a “Purdy” for being the most consistent student in the online challenges they were assigned. Our winners were as follows:
- The Marketers: Kyle Simon, Wagmatcookeway School
- The Managers: Rebekah Peck, Wagmatcookeway School
- The Economists: Michaela Drever, Bridgetown Regional High School
- The Entrepreneurs: Joseph Brooks, L’nu Sipuk Kina’muokuom
- The Accountants: Shania Googoo, Waycobah First Nation School
- Tourism: Ashley Gallant-Zwicker, Horton High School
30 students from 22 high schools and 13 First Nation and Inuit communities made up the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth at its commencement in January 2012. Twenty-one students completed all of the requirements and graduated from year one of this pilot program. In addition, 6 of these students are in grade 12 and will graduate with their high school diploma in June 2102; 4 of whom will attend University and 2 of these 4 have chosen business as their area of study.
The Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies will be accepting applications for year two of the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth in October 2012. More Photos
Rant Your Resume
CBU Campus Tour
On May 9th and 10th 8 students from the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth had a chance to see firsthand what CBU has to offer. These students are from Wagmatcook, Membertou, Glooscap, and Bear River – all First Nation communities in Nova Scotia. We had a jam-packed day planned for them, which was highlighted by a tour of the soon to be complete Shannon School of Business building, which the students were in complete awe of. They were particularly impressed by the “school within a school” feel that this building has. In addition, the students visited Unama’ki College and the Mi’kmaq Resource Centre. The majority of the students did not even know these facilities existed on campus and were very happy to hear that there is a place at CBU that the Mi’kmaq people can call home! These youth have now seen firsthand the strong Mi’kmaq presence at CBU.
Students also had a chance to observe/participate in 3 BBA classes: Financial Accounting I, Human Resource Management, and Introduction to Marketing. In the afternoon, the students ate lunch in Harris Hall, toured a variety of residence rooms, and even snuck in a game of soccer at the Cape Breton Heath & Recreation Complex Dome. More photos.
Leading up to our Inaugural Youth Conference, students were asked to create a short video and post it to YouTube. They had a choice to make the video about their community, or a unique business idea for their community. Here is what they came up with!
Inaugural Youth Conference - Membertou
On March 5 and 6 Cape Breton University hosted a kick-off event for its new Business Network for Aboriginal Youth program. Under the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies, the program is believe to be the first of its kind in Canada and encourages Aboriginal secondary students to further pursue business studies in post-secondary education.
Thirty Aboriginal students representing 12 of Nova Scotia’s First Nation communities met in person for the first time at this inaugural event. Prior to meeting, the students were connected via social media channels including, facebook, twitter and Blackberry BBM.
During the two day event students were encouraged to use those channels, specifically Twitter to share their thoughts, ideas and expectations for the two year pilot mentorship program. Live tweeting was displayed in real time for the entire duration of the event and proved to be a big hit with all parties involved including Premier of Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter ; Purdy Crawford Chair and Vice-President External, Dr. Keith Brown; and Comedian, MC and keynote speaker, Candy Palmater.
Highlights of the conference included video presentations where students pitched business ideas or profiled their communities, as well as a Team Business Challenge, in which the winners were the first recipients of the Purdy Awards.
The students will continue to work together through social media sites until they meet again for a follow up conference in June.
Join in on the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AboriginalMentorship
What is the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth?
- In 2010, Cape Breton University and the Shannon School of Business established the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies (‘the Chair’) with the mandate to provide enhanced business education, research, and opportunities for Aboriginal peoples at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- ‘The Chair’ also devotes time to governance and business development for Aboriginal peoples.
- Education is critical to improving the social and economic strength of Nova Scotia’s Aboriginal people.
- With a growing demographic, Nova Scotia’s Aboriginal population can play a key role in addressing a portion of the anticipated long-term business labour shortage caused by an aging population, out migration and low birth rates, while at the same time improving the economic status of their own communities.
- In 2011, under the auspices of ‘the Chair,’ the Nova Scotia Aboriginal Youth Business Mentorship Program was established.
- This two year pilot program aims to enrich the lives of Aboriginal secondary students by helping to manage the transition from high school to university business education.
- The program strives to strengthen academic development through the emulation of positive peer role models.
- Using BlackBerry technology it will link Aboriginal students, grades 9-12, from all across Nova Scotia via social media. Due its reliance on social media, the group is referred to as the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth.
- ‘The Chair’ began in fall 2011 by developing relationships in Nova Scotia’s thirteen First Nation communities, as well as those off-reserves. A representative presented this program to Aboriginal students attending 28 schools across the province, both on and off reserve.
- In addition, 9 Aboriginal business mentors were recruited, representing 7 First Nation communities across Nova Scotia. These mentors each offer a different skill set that they can share with these future business leaders.
- Response to the program was overwhelming, with applications from more than 200 students. In January 2012, thirty students were selected to represent their communities and schools in the first year of the program.
- In addition to electronic interaction, the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth will also meet in person at two youth conferences lead by successful Aboriginal business role models. The first youth conference is slated for March 5th and 6th in Membertou.
- The Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies atCape Breton University is generously supported by the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Purdy Crawford, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey,Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada, Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, the R. Howard Webster Foundation, Bell-Aliant, and various private donors.