Since 1976, Cape Breton University has been working with and in Aboriginal communities across Atlantic Canada. Below are some of the highlights of what CBU has been doing in regard to Aboriginal education over the last 40 years.
1976 – In 1976, the university developed a remedial program for Mi’kmaq students which included: upgrading, reading, writing, and study skills with non-credit courses in Mi’kmaq language, history and culture, and two academic courses in philosophy and history.
1982 – The 1st Mi’kmaq graduate was in 1982
1985 – By 1985, 46 Mi’kmaq students were enrolled at the university
1987 – 1987 saw the introduction of credit courses for Mi’kmaq Students (English for Mi’kmaq students) and, of great importance to future programming, a five year plan was put in place for developing Mi’kmaq studies.
1989 – 1989 was a watershed year for Mi’kmaq Studies with the hiring of the first full-time faculty member, Murdena Marshall.
1990 – In 1990, a Major in Mi’kmaq studies was submitted to MPHEC for a start date in 1991.
1997 – The First Nations Option, in the MBA in Community Economic Development (CED), included with the original degree proposal was approved by the MPHEC in 1997.
1998 – 1998 saw the establishment of the Mi’kmaq College Institute (MCI) as well as the Mi’kmaq Resource Centre; almost 250 students were enrolled at the university. 35 Mi’kmaq students also graduated that year.
1999 – The MBA (CED) is the first degree program accredited by CANDO(Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers). Since 1999, students who complete the MBA in CED degree with the First Nations Option are also granted the Native Economic Development Officer accreditation by CANDO.
2001 – In 2001, the Bachelor of Science Community Studies (Integrative Science) received MPHEC approval with 21 students enrolled in the initial year.
2002 – The climax of the development of Integrative Science at CBU was the award in 2002 of the prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Integrative Science to Cheryl Bartlett.
2006 – In 2006, Cape Breton University undertook a 30 year historical perspective and environmental scan of Aboriginal education at CBU and in Atlantic Canada.
2007 – In 2007, President John Harker established an Aboriginal Task Forcewhich called for even greater expansion of activities and offerings, and hinted at structural change.
2009 – Chief Terrence Paul of Membertou, joins the Shannon School of Business Advisory Board in 2009.
2010 – 2010 saw the growth and enhancement of MCI, leading to the establishment of Unama’ki College, which is composed of an administrative structure, an academic Department of Indigenous Studies, and additional educational, development and support services. Unama’ki College will have administrative and non-academic staff, as well as full- and part-time faculty members.
2010 – 2010 also saw formation of the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at CBU. Keith Brown is the first occupant of the Purdy Crawford Chair, which promotes interest among Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in the study of business at the post-secondary level, and undertakes pure and applied research specific to Aboriginal communities. The Chair will focus attention and research efforts on the Membertou Business Model, Unama’ki Partnership Model, and national and international comparative business analysis.
2011 – In 2011, CBU’s Purdy Crawford Chair started Business: A National Mentorship Program for Indigenous Youth (originally named the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth). It is an Indigenous youth mentorship program that teaches Indigenous high school students about the study of business through mentorship from Indigenous business professionals with the use to smart devices and social media.
2012 – May 1, 2012 saw the official opening of the primary centre for Mi’kmaq language research at CBU, the Kji-Keptin Alexander Denny L’nui’sultimkeweyo’kuom, under the direction of linguist Dr. Stephanie Inglis. In conjunction with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) and the Nova Scotia Department of Education, the lab has as its mandate Mi’kmaq linguistic research and development and delivery of language courses for non/semi-speakers of Mi’kmaq.
2015 – In 2015, President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. David Wheeler, formed an advisory committee to seek input on ways to indigenize the university.
2016 – In January 2016, CBU launched its first free to the public open-access course entitled MIKM2701: Learning from Knowledge Keepers of Mi’kma’ki. It is offered world-wide via live-streaming.