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Last week, the team from UBC Sauder’s Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education Centre met with the Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, at the UBC Learning Exchange in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Minister Mark had the opportunity to learn more about Ch’nook’s programs as well as meet members of the Ch’nook team and two recent program graduates.


Once such program, the Community Entrepreneurship Course (CEC) was held at the UBC Learning Exchange over the summer and saw student-teachers leading a series of classes on entrepreneurship and business skills for learners interested in gaining more knowledge about the world of commerce. The CEC grew from a pilot program held during the summer of 2017 in three Indigenous communities across British Columbia. This year, for the first time, the course was adapted and held as a five-week, evening course in partnership with the UBC Learning Exchange, Exchange Innercity, the Hastings-Crossing Business Improvement Association, and Embers/Eastside Works.

“I am inspired by the students and staff of the UBC Sauder Ch’nook Indigenous Education Program held at the UBC Learning Exchange,” said Minister Mark. “Providing support and removing barriers to help Indigenous dreamers become successful entrepreneurs are terrific examples of the steps we need to take to make reconciliation a reality in B.C.”

“We are honoured to deliver our programming to Indigenous learners in Vancouver, and across the province,” said Frances Chandler, Ch’nook program director. “Having Minister Mark visit our staff and learn more about our programs is a great boost for the team, and her encouragement is further motivation for us to look for new opportunities to address the needs of sustainable economic development in Indigenous communities.”

“At UBC Sauder we strongly believe that business education can be a powerful tool for transform lives, and build communities,” said Robert Helsley, Dean, UBC Sauder and Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. “Our Ch’nook programs have a strong record as a gateway to more education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Indigenous students, and we were pleased to host Minister Mark and have her hear from some of our students about their successes.”