CBU’s CSEE and Cape Breton First Nations Partner for Green Economy

Cape Breton University’s Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (CSEE), the Chiefs and Band Council’s of the five Cape Breton First Nations communities along with the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office (UEBO) are pleased to announce a collaborative partnership that focuses on economic opportunities directly tied to research and development in energy and environmental sustainability that will see the engagement of local Mi’kmaq in these research and development efforts.

Two of the biggest challenges of our generation are: finding sustainable sources of clean energy and managing the environmental legacy of industrial activity. One of CSEE’s purposes is to investigate viable commercial possibilities for innovative and sustainable energy and environmental solutions, while educating the next generation of leaders in sustainability issues. CSEE identifies opportunities, acts as a catalyst in their development, provides research and development support, and confirms potential community benefits.

Dr. Ross McCurdy, CSEE’s Chief Operating Officer, believes the partnership between CSEE and UEBO is an encouraging step toward realizing CSEE’s vision. “Together,” McCurdy says, “we will advance the CSEE’s research and development agenda, transfer critical research and skill sets to the Unama’ki communities, and investigate opportunities for industry and business development, technology commercialization and training.”

The UEBO is interested in identifying opportunities for, and within, the Unama’ki communities, specifically related to energy and the environment. “The Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office sees the CSEE at CBU as a major driver of commercialization in the green economy,” says UEBO Executive Director Owen Fitzgerald. Dan Christmas, Senior Advisor, Membertou and Chair of the Cape Breton Partnership adds that “Engaging the Unama’ki communities in driving this research and commercialization speaks to a long term commitment that will identify and commercialize emerging opportunities. Through direct participation of local Mi’kmaq personnel in the R&D efforts at CSEE, Unama’ki communities will continue to develop valuable expertise, build human resource capacity that will help us build better and more sustainable communities, furthering the creation of new economic opportunities and jobs that are important to the future of Cape Breton Island. ”

Cape Breton University, Atlantic Canada’s leader in delivering Aboriginal post-secondary education, is committed to strengthening our valued partnership with Unama’ki Communities. “The involvement of the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office in the activities of CSEE,” McCurdy adds, “will support the tradition of partnership between CBU and the Unama’ki communities, while engaging more young Aboriginals in the fields of science, engineering and business.”

CBU President, John Harker, notes that this agreement is an extension of important initiatives already established with First Nations communities locally, regionally and nationally. The growing number of Aboriginal students being educated at Cape Breton University reflects CBU’s commitment to ensuring a highly educated workforce destined to address issues of significance as the local economy evolves. With the activity surrounding The Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies and the expanded mission of Unama'ki College, this partnership between CSEE and UEBO reinforces student programming and relationships between CBU, First Nations communities and the broader business, environmental and energy sectors.