Cape Breton University (CBU) has a 40 year history of collaborating with Canada’s Aboriginal people to design and deliver outstanding Aboriginal post-secondary education. Today, CBU remains committed to expanding its impressive offerings in Aboriginal education, and one such commitment is the endowed Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies.

Canada’s Aboriginal people are the fastest growing population in Canada (National Household Survey, 2011). In fact, by 2026, it is projected that the Aboriginal population will account for 22 per cent of the labour force (Centre for the Study of Living Standards, February 2010). Given this demographic forecast, Canada’s Aboriginal people will play a significant role in shaping the economic future of the country.

Education is critical for improving the social and economic strength of Aboriginal people to a level enjoyed by other Canadians. While empowerment through education is well documented, Canada’s Aboriginal people have a history of much lower educational attainment than non-Aboriginal Canadians. The Centre for the Study of Living Standards (2010) documents that Canada’s Aboriginal population experiences more poverty, lower achievement levels, lower parental and/or role model involvement and is considered to be “at risk.”

Taking these factors into consideration, the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies created In.Business: A National Mentorship Program for Indigenous Youth, which, through activities facilitated by Aboriginal mentors, introduces Aboriginal students to various facets of business. Participation in this program enables students to make informed decisions about their future studies, and it provides positive role models and support systems for Aboriginal students to bridge the gap between high school and post-secondary business education.

In 2013, as a result of the early success of the In.Business program, then Federal Finance Minister, the late Jim Flaherty, dedicated $5 million ($1 million per year for five years) in funding for the work of the Chair. This support requires the Chair to raise matching private funds in the amount of $1 million per year for the funds to be released by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). In addition, the Chair is working to establish an endowment to secure the running of the In.Business program beyond the federal five year commitment.

For more information about donating to the Purdy Crawford Chair, contact Paula MacNeil by email (paula_macneil@cbu.ca) or by phone at (902) 563-1848.

 

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