Reshaping business education through Indigenous perspectives
When the BMO Financial Group donated a significant gift to the UBC Sauder School of Business, the donation not only impacted the school’s curriculum, but it also had a positive influence on students.
Six years ago, BMO gave to UBC Sauder a record-breaking gift. The largest of its kind in the institution’s BC history, it has since shaped and supported business education at the school.
Now, because BMO shares UBC Sauder’s commitment to promoting economic opportunities for Indigenous people, the donation is enabling the school to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into business teachings, while at the same time increasing access for Indigenous students.
“Integrating Indigeneous perspectives into the curriculum is important because for so long in Canada our story has been about assimilation,” says first-year Bachelor of Commerce student Bianca Caroline Hervo Trottier, recipient of the BMO Aboriginal Entrance Award in Commerce.
“The BMO scholarship has significantly eased my financial burden,” says Trottier, who’s interested in accounting, passionate about sustainability and hopes to one day work for a company that creates shared value.
“UBC Sauder will help me make an impact with the career I pursue.”
Thanks to BMO’s support the school has already been able to include Indigenous perspectives in two classes - Government and Business and Business Writing, which spends a solid third of the course on Indigenous content – and inclusion in more classes is in the works.
“We’re weaving Indigenous content through a number of courses – the projects, the reports, the assignments,” says Darren Dahl, Senior Associate Dean at UBC Sauder.
“Plus, we’re working on standalone courses; for example one specifically devoted to joint ventures with Indigenous communities.”
Another way Indigenous content is being woven throughout the UBC Sauder experience is through extracurricular case competitions like the Sauder Summit. In one, Chief Patrick Michell of Kanaka Bar collaborated with UBC Sauder to build a case study centered on making his community’s land more sustainable.
“By bringing in Indigenous communities and people who value tomorrow over today, it forces students to think outside of the box,” says Chief Michell.
In this case competition, students were tasked with generating solution to Kanaka Bar’s specific business problems, each of which were built around sustainable energy and sound agricultural practices.
“It’s very important to us that future generations have the same opportunities we have,” Chief Michell says.
“When we bring in our set of principles we challenge BC, Canada and the world to think differently. Because if we continue on an exploitive path of development, what’s left for tomorrow?”
The student body that comprises UBC Sauder is among the most culturally diverse in the world. Ensuring Indigenous students are part of the diverse student body is core to UBC Sauder’s values.
“Improving access for Indigenous students is critical. Having an awareness of Indigenous perspectives is going to make all UBC Sauder students better leaders.” says Dahl.
On this, Trottier agrees.
“The BMO Aboriginal Business Teaching Fund gives opportunities to students who wouldn’t have a chance otherwise to go to university,” she says.
“I think that’s really important.”