Aboriginal Education, Economic Sustainability and Environment on CBU Agenda for Governor General

Cape Breton University is showcasing its history and leadership in Aboriginal education during the Governor General of Canada’s visit to campus on Thursday, June 2.  Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will learn about CBU’s thirty-five year relationship with local and regional Aboriginal communities and the significant milestones that speak to CBU’s leadership in Aboriginal programming and graduate successes.

Today, CBU’s Unama’ki College leads the way in academic programming and support services for Aboriginal students in Atlantic Canada. Working collaboratively with Aboriginal partners, Cape Breton University is home to a Department of Indigenous Studies that delivers an academic concentration and major in Mi’kmaq Studies and an Integrative Science program that has been widely recognized for its scientific and educational value. The provision of courses on campus and in six Mi’kmaq communities assists in meeting the educational needs of all Aboriginal students.

In addition to these innovative programs, CBU also has in place a Mi’kmaw Language Lab and a Mi’kmaq Resource Centre that are both dedicated to Aboriginal research and heritage preservation. Proudly, CBU is the first university in Canada to hold a graduation ceremony in Aboriginal territory in Wagmatcook, and since then, in Membertou and Indian Brook. CBU is also the first university in Canada to deliver a First Nations Option in its MBA (Community Economic Development).

Recognizing the need for an informed national research agenda linked to Aboriginal economic prosperity, CBU created the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies in 2010. The Chair’s focus on research is tied to the Membertou Business Model and the Unama’ki  Partnership Model  with an outcome that will encourage Aboriginal youth to study business and economic development as a means of driving future economic independence for First Nation communities.

In recent months, CBU’s new Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (CSEE) signed a MOU with the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office (UEBO) to form a collaborative partnership directly tied to economic opportunities linked to research and development in energy and environmental sustainability that will engage local Aboriginal People in these activities.

While on campus, His Excellency will participate in a roundtable dialogue with graduates representing Cape Breton’s five Aboriginal Communities to discuss the role and direction post-secondary education can play in supporting business development and opportunities for Aboriginal youth.   A visit to the Legacy of Hope Foundation “Where are the Children?” exhibit, opening the same day at the CBU Art Gallery, will conclude his visit.  This important exhibit has been mounted to educate Canadians about the history and legacy of residential school system, and supporting survivors through their healing process.

“The depth of Cape Breton University’s ties to Aboriginal education and growth is significant,” notes President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. John Harker.  “It remains an important priority and we are extremely pleased that Governor General David Johnston will have an opportunity to become familiar with the extent of CBU’s commitment to a national Aboriginal agenda that furthers long term economic prosperity.”