On May 18, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and Brian Bemmels, Sauder Senior Associate Dean Academic Programs, hosted the Ch’nook graduation: Thunderbird Rising Celebrating Aboriginal Business Education.
Held at the UBC First Nations House of Learning, the ceremony celebrated 29 students graduating from the 2012 intake of Sauder’s Ch'nook Advanced Management Program (AMP) and Ch’nook Scholars Program.
Three generations of performers from Tsatsu Stalqayu (pdf, 54 KB) (Coastal Wolf Pack), representing the Coast Salish communities, sang and danced – dedicating their performance to the new graduates. The celebrations also included a lunch prepared by the Vancouver Community College Aboriginal Culinary Arts team.
“Your desire to provide entrepreneurial leadership for your community brought you to Ch’nook,” said Rick Colbourne, Director, Ch’nook and Assistant Dean, Indigenous Business Education. “We have worked together to develop the skills and capabilities you will need to be confident in assuming leadership roles in your businesses and communities and serve those you represent with vision, creativity, and integrity.”
Keynote speaker Grand Chief Stewart Phillip emphasized the need for Aboriginal business leaders in the province. “Society is an ongoing state of transformation,” Grand Chief Phillip said. “We need to be centrally involved in the development of business institutions.”
There were sixteen AMP graduates. The four-month part-time Aboriginal Business Education Program, offered by Ch’nook and UBC’s Sauder School of Business, is designed for individuals wanting to start their own business, those responsible for running band business ventures, and for band council and staff interested in improving their overall business skills. Since the program’s launch in 2006, over 100 students have participated.
The Ch’nook Scholars Program had 13 graduates. For the past five years, Ch’nook has supported Aboriginal students engaged in full-time business education across B.C. through the Ch’nook Scholars initiative, which so far has recognized 70 Scholars.
“We provide students with an opportunity to study business in a manner that recognizes and supports an understanding of how Aboriginal culture, identity, and traditional knowledge interfaces with the issues and challenges of doing business in Canada and in the 21st century,” said Colbourne.