Government of Canada Announces $5 Million in Support of Aboriginal Programming at CBU

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Government of Canada, was at Cape Breton University (CBU) today to announce the $5 million allocated in the March 2013 Federal Budget for the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies. Held by Dr. Keith Brown, the Crawford Chair is focused on promoting interest among Canada’s Indigenous people in the study of business at the post-secondary level, while undertaking pure and applied research specific to Aboriginal communities. The financial support announced today will advance the Chair’s program nationally.

“Having Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at CBU to demonstrate support for the Crawford Chair shows there is great confidence in the work undertaken by CBU in Aboriginal economic development and business education for Aboriginal people at the post-secondary level. Cape Breton University has a 35 year long history of collaborating with Aboriginal community leaders; the success of this partnership is evidenced by the many Aboriginal graduates working in communities across the region and the country. Unama’ki College continue to extend our community reach across the country. This funding supports an unprecedented effort at national capacity building in business studies, encouragement in entrepreneurship, and dissemination of best practices in proven economic models,” says Dr. Keith Brown.

Established in 2010, the Chair has had an ambitious and results based action and research agenda since inception. The team has experienced success and recognition through published articles, national conference presentations and especially through its outreach and programs with Aboriginal business students from across Canada.

In particular, the highly successful Business Network for Aboriginal Youth has just completed its second year. The Nova Scotia Pilot, with participation from First Nation, Metis, and Inuit, has created the platform for a National Aboriginal Youth Business Mentorship Program with an expectation for growth to reach 270 student participants nationally per year.

Over the Mentorship’s five year span, approximately 1350 Aboriginal students will complete the program with the anticipated outcome of approximately 400 students then enrolling in post-secondary business programs. The program will utilize social media tools, mentoring, internships, regional and national summits that focus on challenges and success stories as well as opportunities for academic counselling with a goal of seeing Aboriginal students graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary business education studies.

These funds will also see the expansion of a National Social Network of Aboriginal Students currently studying business or those interested in pursuing studies in business. The program uses social media technology to connect participants with Aboriginal mentors from across each region of Canada.  As part of the funding announced today monies will be directed to enhancing technological capacities that cross geographical and psychological barriers to include experiential business gaming simulation and other mediated technologies as teaching tools for business education.

Over the past year, the Chair has held three national roundtable discussions across Canada with Aboriginal business students gaining insight into the barriers impacting the study of business. Information gathered from these sessions has furthered the research program of the Chair. As result of the Government of Canada funding, Aboriginal business success stories will be recreated as business cases and videos and made available to teaching institutions. The goal is to create 125 business cases and 200 Youtube videos by 2018. A text book featuring Aboriginal business cases will also be created under the auspices of the Chair.

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