On October 24, Sauder’s indigenous business education initiative, Ch’nook hosted an inaugural study tour for a group of 19 Maori MBA students from Waikato-Tainui College in New Zealand.
Delivering a for-credit portion of the Maoris’ part-time MBA program, Ch’nook encouraged their visitors, all of whom hold senior roles in their home country, to identify cultural differences and similarities between Canadian and New Zealand indigenous business and culture.
The group also looked at the growing importance of the Asian economy and ability for Canadian First Nations and Maoris to interact and capitalize on Chinese business opportunities.
“It’s been a great exchange of knowledge with other indigenous students and businesses,” says Mala Grant, Maori MBA student and CEO, Korowai Aroha Health Centre. “We found that First Nations businesses here are structured quite differently to ours because Canada has a different political system. In New Zealand we have just one indigenous language as opposed to several in Canada. This makes business interactions like negotiating much easier.”
During their ten-day trip, the Maori MBA students attended classes and worked on business case studies in Vancouver. They also travelled to BC’s Okanagan region to meet with Chief Clarence Louie of the Okanagan Nation, as well as visiting Whistler to meet the Squamish First Nation and Harrison Hot Springs to meet the Sts’ailes First Nation.
“What I have learnt from this experience is that indigenous peoples worldwide really need to build their capacity. To be strong in our culture we must also have the skills to walk in the modern world,” says Maori MBA candidate, Potaki Maipi.
Hailing from the Waikato Tainui tribe in New Zealand, Mr. Maipi explains that his tribe owns more than $700 million in assets and has traditionally imported expertise to manage these. By investing in tertiary education, he and his fellow cohorts now have the qualifications to look after their assets and affairs themselves.
“My father wanted me to become as educated as possible as there are big tribal responsibilities for me to take on,” he says.
For Ch’nook at Sauder, this trip has been a resounding success. “It is the first time that we have organized an international study tour of this kind, and it has facilitated tremendous ongoing learning exchange opportunities between indigenous business groups,” says Rick Colbourne, Assistant Dean, Indigenous Business Education and Director.
“The study tour will lead to greater cooperation between the two institutions – we are now discussing having Ch’nook Scholars being hosted by the Waikato-Tainui College and the indigenous community in New Zealand,” he added.
Associate Director of Ch’nook, Danielle Levine says it was refreshing to teach a group of motivated students who were eager to learn about Canada’s indigenous cultures and peoples. “The students equally shared their indigenous cultures with us. It was a wonderful learning experience for the students, staff and community participants.