The second year of the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth came to a close last month with a celebration to recognize the hard work of the program’s 26 Aboriginal youth participants. The Business Network for Aboriginal Youth is an initiative being led by the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Studies, Dr. Keith Brown, and his research team. The group was joined by Premier Darrell Dexter, Mr. Joe Shannon, Mr. Purdy Crawford, Chief Terry Paul and CBU President David Wheeler for the closing of this year’s program.
The Business Network for Aboriginal Youth is a mentorship program linking Aboriginal high schools students from across Nova Scotia with 6 Aboriginal business mentors. The program has experienced much success as a result of its innovative approach to connecting students with mentors. Using Blackberry technology, the program exposes participants to business-related areas such as marketing, entrepreneurship and finance. Students were placed in groups of six (five students and one mentor) and the Blackberry devices were used to facilitate discussions within their BlackBerry Messenger groups. Additionally, all students took part in bi-weekly challenges that explored various facets of business.
The students were kept busy gaining insight into the various options in business. Touring CBU, gaining social media skills and presenting business themed projects are just some of the activities that students were involved in. There certainly was a reason to celebrate after seven months of continuous hard work.
During the closing gathering, Lateesha Denny (Wagmatcookewey School), Brad Paul (Sydney Academy), Laine Foxton (Annapolis West Education Centre) and Cydney Johnston (East Antigonish Education Centre) were awarded bursaries. Additionally, President Wheeler presented completion certificated to each student.
Students had the opportunity to ask Mr. Shannon and Mr. Crawford questions about their successes in business and their involvement in the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at CBU. Both Canadian Business Hall of Fame inductees offered answers that were both interesting and insightful.
Of the 26 students who have completed all requirements for the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth program, 12 will be graduating from high school and nine will be attending post-secondary institutions. Of these nine, seven will be studying business.
With the recent $5 million announcement made by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in support of Crawford Chair initiatives, it is expected that the success of the Nova Scotia pilot program will be extended across the country.