#GivingTuesday – Get informed about Aboriginal education!

It can be difficult, at times, to navigate prompts to ‘give.’ For myself, as a non-millionaire, I need to pick and choose where I dedicate my charitable donations, ensuring that the cause is legitimate, urgent, and worthy. I’m going to take some time to explain why donating to CBU’s Purdy Crawford Chair is legitimate, urgent, worthy, and best of all, exciting!

I work at CBU’s Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies, and we’re doing some really interesting stuff. We do research and curriculum development in the form of case studies about Aboriginal businesses, and our Senior Research Associate is guiding the completion of Canada’s first Aboriginal business text book. We also run a national mentorship program called In.Business. We have over 250 Aboriginal high school students in five regions across the country currently enrolled in the program. Each region comes together twice a year to participate in conferences, and I attended my first conference as a chaperon and general helper in early November 2015, and it was incredible to get to spend two solid days with such excitable, talented, smart students.

Every aspect of the In.Business program is aimed at teaching students business concepts, with hopes that they will study business in their post-secondary studies, and eventually take their knowledge and skills back to their home communities. The Chair was started in 2010 as CBU’s response to taking the expertise, leadership, and successes that we’ve seen in Nova Scotia to a national level. The work done by the Purdy Crawford Chair has the potential to make generational change across Canada. I feel particularly fortunate (and enthused) to be witness every day to what I consider to be very important efforts.

Despite the successes we’ve seen here in Nova Scotia, the fact remains that Canada’s Aboriginal population is disadvantaged. We know that Canada’s Aboriginal people are the fastest growing population in Canada (National Household Survey, 2011). And, we also know that the Aboriginal populations in our country experience more poverty, lower achievement levels, lower parental and/or role model involvement and are considered to be “at risk” (The Centre for the Study of Living Standards, 2010).

Due to my work with the Purdy Crawford Chair, I’ve had the benefit of learning a lot more about fact and myth regarding Aboriginal Canadians and our collective history in this country. Mostly, I learned that many non-Aboriginal Canadians don’t know what they don’t know and there can be a hesitation to learn. Below are a few quick links that I’ve stumbled upon and found helpful in getting the very basics of Aboriginal issues, along with other initiatives similar to the Purdy Crawford Chair whose aim is also to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
SOAP BOX: Wab Kinew
It’s Not an Opinion, It’s a Fact: Aboriginal Education in Canada
Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

In 2012, the Federal government dedicated $5 million dollars to the work of the Chair. This funding, a crucial step towards equality, was placed under a “matching-funds” parameter, which means the team at Purdy Crawford Chair must raise one private dollar in order to receive one federal dollar.

Giving to the Purdy Crawford Chair means supporting those excitable, talented, smart Aboriginal students with whom I was able to spend two solid days. They’re from down the road and the fact remains that they, and their peers, are not graduating at the same rates as non-Aboriginal high school students. They are not obtaining diplomas and degrees at the same rates as non-Aboriginal Canadians. Many socioeconomic realities make it that much more difficult for an Aboriginal person to reach the same professional goals as a non-Aboriginal person. For these reasons, and many more, I would encourage you to learn more about the work of the Chair, about the history of Canada’s Aboriginal population, and about the current state of affairs and the ways in which you can help.

Alyce MacLean
Special Projects Manager
Purdy Crawford Chair