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No more reservations about business

School program on Blood Reserve seeks to build entrepreneurialism

Tim Querengesser is senior editor with Alberta Venture. Email Tim

Jan 28, 2014

by Tim Querengesser

Grade 11 and 12 students at Kainai High School, located on the Blood Reserve near Cardston, in southern Alberta, can now take courses aimed at increasing their financial literacy and knowledge, and spurring their entrepreneurialism.
The new program, sponsored in part by former Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Aboriginal Education Initiative, is built on the successes of a similar idea at a school on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, near The Pas, Manitoba.
“It really pushed me out of my comfort zone,” one 16-year-old student at Kainai told the CBC at the launch of the program, after she pitched a T-shirt business plan to Martin. “I think that’s a good thing.”
What the program also marks is a different way of thinking about so-called ‘Aboriginal’ problems when it comes to the Albertan economy. While many business leaders, including the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, have noted that Aboriginal peoples are located on or near hundreds of billions worth of resource projects and that these peoples also are a potential untapped workforce of labourers, the program launched by Martin’s group re-imagines this potential – as Aboriginal youth with business ideas of their own being offered the tools to succeed.
“Indigenous people of this country have not had a reasonable shot at what this country has to offer, this country of huge wealth,” Martin is quoted by CBC as saying as he launched the program at Kainai. “They were not offered the same opportunities that we were and as a result, a great injustice was done for far too long.”

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