CBU Introduces New Interdisciplinary First Year Experience for Mi’kmaw Students

Cape Breton University is now accepting applications for a new interdisciplinary first year experience starting in September 2018. The Kwitn Program has been designed to enable Mi’kmaw students to explore their interests in science, technology and business in a small group setting of their peers.

For more than forty years, Cape Breton University has delivered educational programming and degrees to Indigenous students in Atlantic Canada and Unama’ki College has provided one-on-one, culturally-based support to students to ensure they achieve their educational goals. More than 700 Indigenous students have graduated from CBU and currently there are more than 250 Indigenous students registered in university degree programs. Historically, many students have chosen to complete a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) degree. At the request of Mi’kmaw education leaders, the Kwitn Program has been established to introduce students to more diverse degree options, such as the Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), or Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environment (BASE).

“The Kwitn Program is the perfect example of what can happen when an educational institution and First Nation communities come together for the good of the students, and the community as a whole,” says David C. Dingwalll, President of Cape Breton University. “The world is a much better place with diverse perspectives and providing Mi’kmaw students the opportunity to study in fields that they have historically not been encouraged to, will ensure that their valuable experiences and perspectives are accounted for as these fields grow and evolve.”

Designed with the input of Mi’kmaw education leaders and former CBU students received during two community consultation sessions, the Kwitn Program integrates Mi’kmaw perspectives, worldview, and traditional knowledge into videography, coding, entrepreneurship, and Indigenous science courses through the participation of Mi’kmaw Elders and traditional knowledge holders in program delivery. Most of the program will be delivered in-community or via a blended learning model using videoconferencing, allowing students to study in their own communities. Students will have access to a mentor-coordinator and tutors to ensure their academic success and will participate in field trips and industry tours to explore career options. Students in the Kwitn Program will also receive assistance in finding relevant summer employment opportunities. Academic supports, such as tutoring, and motivational supports will continue into the second year of study at Cape Breton University. Kwitn is the Mi’kmaw term for canoe, an example of Indigenous knowledge, technology, and innovation that enabled exploration and trade.

Stephen Augustine, Associate Vice-President Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College and a hereditary chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, says, “Kwitn is an amazing and much needed program.  It will provide a way for our incoming students to navigate the uncertain waters ahead and paddle successfully into the stream of knowledge and their future.”

For more information about the Kwitn Program or to apply to the first cohort starting in September, visit www.cbu.ca/kwitn-program or call Ida Steeves at 902.563.1871.