Recap: Working Toward Canada's First Textbook in Aboriginal Business

It was a long summer full of hard work and adventure on Unama’ki. I was hired in May to do a summer research internship with the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies. My project was working toward the first textbook in Aboriginal Business in Canada.

We were busy from the first day we arrived. Shawna, our local coworker, took Vin and me to Kiju’s fivestar restaurant for brunch buffet. It would turn out to be the best breakfast of the whole summer. Later that day, we went on a trip out to hike at Cross, Goat Island, Lake Ainsley, Bras d’Or Lakes, and Egypt Falls. It was fun but extremely tiring, especially Egypt Falls which was the last hike. Lake Ainsly is a freshwater lake, but Bras d’Or is a massive saltwater lake. It’s really cool to see the difference. We made sure to taste the water to ensure we weren’t being lied to.

The second day, we went for a tour on the Cabot Trail with Allan. This was an awesome day. I was extremely jet lagged but made it through alive. Our first stop was Ingonish Beach in the Cape Breton National Park. It was a beautiful beach but the water was way too cold then. We also went on the trail nearby which was amazing. Afterward, we ate lunch somewhere in Ingonish. I’m not sure what it was called, but it ended up being my favourite meal of the entire summer. I had a smokey burger because we were eating near Cape Smokey ski hill. We continued along the Cabot Trail through Cheticamp, the Cape Breton Highlands. The scenery was amazing. Then we stopped in a little picturesque French town. I don’t remember the name. Too bad I didn’t take a single picture of the town. I was too tired by then and couldn’t wait to find a Tim Hortons. Finally, we stopped in Baddeck and ate at Yello Cello. The day before, we also stopped at Baddeck. This is my favourite town of the island.

The next weekend, we went on a trip to Millbrook First Nations for a Youth Business Network Conference. This was pretty cool. It was a chance to see the economic development and growth of this particular First Nation. We also had a chance to meet Wab Kinew. That was pretty cool. I was also asked to be the photographer for that conference so it was a great chance to improve my skills and add to my portfolio (like my page at: ).

Then, we quickly got down to work. I reviewed both an Aboriginal History textbook and an Intro to Business text to identify gaps which would support learning about Aboriginal Business in Canada. I conducted the review for the first seven weeks. During this time, I also did a bit of additional secondary research. The research supported my conclusions and recommendations for the report I wrote. This work was completely successfully and 3 weeks ahead of schedule.

I filled the remaining three weeks with creating youtube videos which would dispel some myths about Aboriginal Business in Canada. In total, I created 5 videos which ranged in topics from the Business Environment, Taxation, and Economics. It was an awesome learning experience as I had never produced videos before. I had no clue how difficult it would be to learn lines, find good locations to shoot, and finally edit the final videos. But, the videos are complete and I hope they help guide people in the right direction on their learning about Aboriginal Business in Canada.

During weekends and evenings, we did a few more activities throughout the summer. At one point, we went to Kluskap Caves. The caves are considered one of the most sacred Mi’kmaq places and are closely tied with Mi’kmaq creation. It was incredibly beautiful and the water was great to swim in.

We attended a powwow in Eskasoni. It was a bit small, but it was still a great opportunity. We watched some traditional Mi’kmaq dances and songs and had some good Indian Tacos. We also went to the beach that day and it was the first time I had seen Jellyfish in a lake. I really wish I had a big enough container to get a good picture of the Jellyfish.

On Saturday, July 21, we attended the Cape Breton Dragon Boat Festival. This was a blast. We had two races that day. The first race, the CBU President John Harker drummed for us. Unfortunately, we lost but it was actually pretty fun and hilarious to watch our teammates dragon boat for the first time. The second time, Membertou Chief Terry Paul drummed for our team. We came in second to Scotiabank’s team. That was a great day that I’m glad we participated in.

During my stay here, I also attended two MBA classes in CBU’s MBA in CED program. The first class was Public Policy. It was a good class and we came away with some great practical advice for proposal writing. The second class, I was busy working so Lenny, Shawna and Vin ditched me. This was a class with Dr. McLellan. They told me it was  a great class with great discussions. It was comparative development.  So, a week later we were getting coffee and bumped into Dr. McLellan and his student, Rose Julian, in the hallway. They wanted to invite us to participate in their discussion again because they were discussing dead capital on reserves in Canada. I managed to go and contribute to their discussion. I’m glad I went because a couple of weeks later, I bumped into Dr. McLellan again in the hallway after work. It just happened to be that his MBA class finished for the summer and they were going to celebrate by sailing on Bras d’Or Lake and that they had one more spot available. So, I was able to tag along. It was an amazing experience. I need to get myself a yacht one day. We learned a lot about Alexander Graham Bell’s house and his life. I also had a chance to meet more MBA students with a lot of experience.

Anyway, I think this adequately recaps my experience on Unama’ki. I learned and experienced more this summer than ever before. My most valuable experience was the chance to contribute to Canada’s first textbook in Aboriginal Business and the report that I wrote. Being able to reconcile Aboriginal History with modern economics in a way that is acceptable to academia will be a very important skill to have in the future – especially as Aboriginal communities across the country attempt to undertake this very task I did this summer.

Photo’s of my time on Unama’ki can be found in these albums:

Also, don’t forget to check out and click like on my photography page, where I will be posting “work” photo’s: