About the Purdy Crawford Chair

Mary Beth Doucette currently holds the position of Purdy Crawford Chair and Assistant Professor, Aboriginal Business Studies in the Shannon School of Business at Cape Breton University. Mary Beth has been the Executive Director of the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at Cape Breton University (CBU) in Sydney, Nova Scotia for the past 5 years. She is a Membertou band member, an Industrial Engineer, and has an MBA in Community Economic Development (CED).

Her graduate research at CBU focused on CED in First Nations communities and she has since continued to engage in community building, governance, and Asset Based Community Development activities. She is currently enrolled in a Ph. D in Management at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS, where she continues to build foundational concepts that are of most interest to her including: Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing, reconciliation through community leadership, organizational governance, education, and mentorship.

Background on the Chair

The Chair is an independently funded, partially endowed research Chair. Establishment of the Chair involved significant commitment to fundraising for the endowment and operational funds to support programming and activities.

Based in the Shannon School of Business and working in partnership with Membertou and Unama’ki College, the Chair encourages discussion topics related to Aboriginal Business by documenting and sharing Aboriginal business success stories and mentoring Aboriginal students, locally and nationally. The first Chair holder, Dr. Keith Brown was appointed in 2011, at the time Mary Beth, working for Membertou was appointed as associate Chair, reflecting the strategic connection between Membertou and the SSOB. In the past seven years, a variety of projects and activities were undertaken in the areas of primary research, mentorship, and advocacy. Early directions of the Chair were established through consultation with students and practitioners starting with three regional student round tables, a national student round table, and dialogue sessions, such as the SSHRC funded national workshop on Partnering for Successful Economic Development. The outcome of the research has been shared online via social media platforms and published in peer reviewed journals such as Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development.

Developing student mentorship relationships has always been fundamental to the work of the Chair team. In.Business program is a signature high school mentorship program that connects indigenous youth with indigenous business mentors across the country. Over 350 students have participated in the program, the majority of which have since gone on to study in post-secondary programs with a solid grounding in basic business concepts while also having developed life long relationships with peers and mentors. Aside from the In.Business program, the Chair has also mentored and employed dozens of indigenous and non-indigenous post-secondary students as research assistants. They have contributed to work in countless ways, writing case studies, supporting events, researching histories, creating videos, etc.

As of July 1, 2018, the In.Business Program will continue to operate as a project of Unama’ki College. The focus of the Atlantic Region program will continue to be based at Cape Breton University, while other partnerships will be maintained and developed to support In.Business programs in other regions from coast to coast to coast.


Continuing with the theme of partnerships and collaboration, the Chair will be considering how Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing can inform and be integrated in organizational policies and organizing processes. This will be done in partnership with A SHARED future project that considers the case of the Bras D’Or Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI).

Building on the established models of student mentorship that creates practical research opportunities for students. The Chair will continue to build on the case studies series. Writing and publishing cases that are written from the perspective and experiences of Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs.


As an assistant faculty member in the Organizational Management Department, Mary Beth, as Chair, will be teaching MBA CED courses in First Nations Governance and Introduction to Indigenous Business Courses, on campus and “in community.” Mary Beth is also available to supervise MBA students applied research projects.