On June 14th, 2019 the UBC Sauder School of Business celebrated the graduation of students from Ch’nook Scholars and the Ch’nook Aboriginal Management Program (AMP).
The five-month, part-time AMP program, offered by the Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education Centre at UBC Sauder, is designed for budding Indigenous entrepreneurs, managers of current band business ventures, and for band council and staff seeking to enhance their business skills. The Ch’nook Scholars program for Indigenous business students complements post-secondary business education and also fosters leadership development.
The graduation ceremony was held in UBC’s First Nations Longhouse and commenced with Elder Doris Fox of the Musqueam Nation providing a traditional welcome in spoken word and song. The graduating Ch’nook students entered the longhouse one at a time, accompanied by a song and drumbeat performed by one of their classmates, Rick Ghostkeeper. Then the Tsatsu Stalqayu Coastal Wolfpack group dedicated a Salish song to the new graduates.
Keynote speaker and Indigenous Education Navigator, Tasha Brooks – a former Ch’nook scholar herself - emphasized how the Ch’nook programs have empowered a new generation of Indigenous business leaders to make an impact, enhance their communities and take forward new skills to share. “I hope people don’t ask you how much money you make, but how you can make a difference,” said Brooks.
Professor Kai Li, Senior Associate Dean of Equity and Diversity at UBC Sauder explained that the school strives to provide support and encouragement to those from all backgrounds who want to succeed in business. “We are happy to work with the Musqueam people and support all Indigenous students,” she said. “We want to thank all donors for their support in making this program a possibility.”
To close the ceremony, several of the graduates along with Ch’nook staff took to the stage to perform a traditional honour song called the Women’s Warrior Song, to send the graduates off on a strong and powerful note.