On March 10, 11 and 12, more than 80 Mi’kmaw junior high and high school students from 12 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia attended the inaugural Nova Scotia Aboriginal Youth Skilled Trades Fair at the Comfort Inn in Halifax. Over three days, students explored ten skilled trades and learned about their apprenticeship processes, and funding, education and training opportunities.

Students visited experiential skilled trades booths and spoke one-on-one with skilled tradespeople working in their respective fields. They learned about a typical workday on-the-job, and the necessary education and work experience that are required to launch a career.

Acadia First Nation Chief Deborah Robinson addressed the youth at the fair’s opening ceremonies, encouraging them to keep their eyes, ears, and minds open to every career possibility, and to take the time to network with others.

She stated Mi’kmaw are being more active and visible in our province’s economy, and that we need and want our people, now more than ever, to gain essential skills and give back to our communities.

“It’s our priority to equip our students with the right education, skills and training, so they can find good jobs, succeed in the workforce, and give back to their communities,” said Robinson. “This starts with giving junior high and high school students hands-on learning experiences, and access to information so they can make the right academic choices.”

Al Gould, a grade nine student at Eskasoni Middle School, said he was excited to learn that he could start getting his hours towards an electrician certification while in high school.

“My dad is an electrician and I’ve been watching and learning what he does since I was ten. I work with him in the summertime and I think it's what I'd like to do as a career.”

Ann Sylliboy, Post Secondary Consultant at MK, and a member of the organizing committee for the trades fair, thanked the students for showing an interest in their future, their economy, and their communities.

“It was wonderful to see so many students actively participating in the demonstrations and asking questions.”

The event was made possible by ENCANA, the Nova Scotia Assembly of Chiefs, Nova Scotia Department of Education and provincial schools, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Native Council of Nova Scotia, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and its schools, Mi’kmaq Project for Innovation and Collaboration, and Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office of Nova Scotia.

This week Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey celebrates 14 years of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw education success at its annual Community Strategic and Operational Planning Symposium. Approximately 100 First Nation education representatives will come together from March 5-7 at the Park Place Ramada in Dartmouth.

This year’s conference highlights and celebrates the importance and significant contributions of Mi’kmaw Elders to their community’s education system. The conference opens Wednesday with a keynote address by Eskasoni Elder Joe B. Marshall, an aboriginal veteran, role model, mentor, and esteemed leader on the leading edge of native rights initiatives for over 40 years.

Marshall was a driving force behind the creation of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians (UNSI) in 1969 in response to the Trudeau government’s White Paper advocating assimilation. He has been executive director of UNSI for nearly two decades and also acts as senior advisor to the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative in negotiations with the Province of Nova Scotia and Ottawa on aboriginal and treaty rights. Mr. Marshall retired as Associate Professor of Mi'kmaq Studies and Political Science from Cape Breton University in 2005. While at the university, he was instrumental in the formation of the Mi'kmaq College Institute and the creation of Mi'kmaq Studies as a disciplinary subject.

Marshall is an Order of Nova Scotia honouree and was presented with the Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr. Memorial Elder Award during the 2013 Halifax annual Treaty Day ceremony.

Delegates will continue to hear from Elders and their work across the province, including Dr. Albert and Dr. Murdena Marshall, a husband and wife team who have devoted their life to the promotion and preservation of Mi’kmaw spirituality, education, and science. The Marshalls are two founding members behind the research model known as “two-eyed seeing”, an approach that combines the strengths of both traditional scientific methods and Aboriginal ways of understanding health. In early December, the Canadian Institute of Health Research announced that a research team, led by Dr. Frederic Wien of Dalhousie University, had been awarded $446,396 over three years for a project called "Building a Social Policy Framework for the Health and Well-Being of Mi'kmaq Communities: A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach."

“Having our Elders as resource people in our classrooms gives students first hand knowledge of our culture, language and traditions,” says Eleanor Bernard, executive director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. “This open communication of students and Elders builds strong relationships and enhances respect for our Elders.”

In October 2013, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey announced that 87% of Mi’kmaw high school pupils graduated in the spring. More than 500 Mi’kmaq students were enrolled in post-secondary schools last year, up 25 per cent over 2011-12. Eighty-four graduated from universities or colleges.

For more information and detailed agenda, visit</p>

<p>MK’s Post-Secondary Consultant, Ann Sylliboy, successfully submitted a proposal to the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline Fund (M&amp;NP) and received $5,000 in funding.</p><p>The funding was used to support a High School Student Career Mapping Initiative pilot project in We’koqma’q and Annapolis Valley. Funding also supported a “Parents as Career Coaches” session in We’koqma’q, and meals and prizes at the Careers Nova Scotia book launch in Annapolis Valley.

Plans are underway to host a “Parents as Career Coaches” session in Annapolis Valley in the Spring. The remaining Career Nova Scotia books will be distributed to school support staff in all communities.</p>

We’re looking for communities to host this summer’s MK Reading Program. The program will run for six weeks. If interested, please contact Rebecca Scirocco-Paul at or 902-567-0336.

On January 13, Grade 3/4 and 5/6 students at Pictou Landing First Nation School spent a morning learning what it’s like to be a marine biologist.

Scientists from the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group - Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq delivered a hands-on workshop. Students learned many interesting facts about lobster, and had the opportunity to learn about the health of a lobster by testing the lobster’s blood.

Thanks to MCG for a great learning experience!

On January 9, Pictou Landing First Nation School hosted a Writers In The Schools visit by local author Maureen Hull.

Maureen has authored such children’s books as Lobster Fishing on the Sea, The View From a Kite, Rainy Day with Bear, and WIld Cameron Women.

Organized by Grade 3/4 teacher, Kim Dorrington, and sponsored by the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, this day gave students the opportunity to meet a published author, hear her read from her work, and have them be mentored by Maureen in their own writing efforts.

The Writers Federations of Nova Scotia fosters creative writing in the Province of Nova Scotia; provides advice and assistance to writers at all stages of their careers; encourages greater public recognition of Nova Scotian writers and their achievements; and enhances the literary arts in our regional and national culture.

A note from Maureen:

“Thank you so much for inviting me to PLFN School. Thank you for being such wonderful listeners and entertaining speakers. I enjoyed our conversations very much and it was a pleasure to spend time with you. Wela’lioq.”

PLFN looks forward to the next visiting author on February 4, children’s author/illustrator, Richard Rudnicki.

If you attended the annual MK Sports Summit banquet this past November, you may remember a row of glossy, colourful posters lining the back wall of the room. These posters, ten in total, profiled each of the ten students from Shubenacadie Band participating in this year’s Summit.

A long-time vision of Education Director, Velvet Paul, the posters were created to recognize and honour the community’s students for their love and dedication to their respective sports. The ten posters featured a photo and favourite quote of Tasha MacKenzie, Kreshia Robinson-Paul, Chase Nicholas, Michael Sack Jr., Bryson Knockwood, Connor Dennis, Therin Nevin, Mile Willis, Roman Sack, and Cory Knockwood.

Paul says she approached the team at Eastern Woodland Publishing with her idea near the beginning of the year, and they immediately got to work.

“I wanted the posters to embody the spirit of the students and the theme “Dream, Believe, Achieve,” says Paul. “And I worked with Carol and Evangeline to make sure the posters reflected that.”

She says the First Nation communities need role models to inspire other students to know that if you believe in your dreams, you can achieve anything.

“Each of the students on the posters has played and represented our community on a provincial level,” says Paul. “It is important to celebrate what accomplishments our Mi’kmaq students are making.”

She said the final product was kept a secret until they arrived in Dartmouth at the Sports Summit, along with a Role Model award; and the reaction from students, teachers and parents when they saw them was a mix of proud smiles and tears.

“I have to say the students and parents were pretty tired of my constant phone calls,” jokes Paul. “But, once they saw the final product, I think they were very pleased.”

The posters are now hung in the main entrance to L’nu Sipuk Kina’muokuom, the Shubenacadie Band Office, and the community centre. Paul says they have received excellent feedback from everyone in the community, and beyond.

“People keep asking, “Who did these? Where can we get a copy?,” says Paul. “So, are we going to make these an annual project? Definitely.”

Velvet thanks the students for their continuous inspiration, and she hopes the project will be an inspiration to other communities to do the same.


On December 2nd and 3rd, a group of students involved in CBU’s Business Network for Aboriginal Youth made their way to Membertou where they would spend the next two days participating in the project’s Year 3 Opening Conference.

On Day 1, the students, who represented 16 high schools in Nova Scotia, were welcomed to Cape Breton University by President Dr. David Wheeler. From there on, they took a campus tour, sat in on a real university business class, received their Smartphone devices (on which they’ll regularly communicate re: BNAY), experimented with business simulation games developed by Cape Breton based GoVenture, and visited the Membertou Heritage Park.

That evening students were treated to an Opening Dinner at Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, and were inspired by guest speaker Annie Johnson, Director of Administration at Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UNIR) and a CBU BBA grad. She spoke about how she became interested in business, the transition from high school to university, the transition from university into the working world, her role at UNIR, and why she recommends to high school students that they study business.

Day Two began with a welcome from Chief Leroy Denny, and was followed by a presentation by Eskasoni’s Levi Denny on leadership in sport.

From there, students heard from Tracy Menge, Economic Development Manager for Eskasoni, about the importance of logos and branding.

Prior to the conference, students were asked to prepare a short video introducing themselves and sharing why they applied to the program. The videos provided an opportunity for students and mentors to learn about those they would be interacting with for the next few months.

This year’s program mentors are Ann Terese Doucette of Membertou, Lesley Cremo of Eskasoni, Jude Gerrard of Millbrook, Tracy Menge of Eskasoni, James Michael of Indian Brook, and Rebekah Price of Wagmatcook.

After enjoying a lunch catered by students of Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School, BNAY students worked in groups to create their own logo and brand. The winning

idea was Team Muinaq with their electronics’ branding “Plug It In”!

The final day of the conference concluded with a round dance and the “Purdy Awards”. The Purdy Awards are named after Purdy Crawford and are awarded at each conference to recognize a special contribution to the program by a student.

At this conference, four Purdys were presented to Cecil Doucette of Potlotek for his creativity used in his intro video, Nichelle Googoo of We’koqma’q for her performance as CEO during the micro-business simulation game, Victoria Peck of Wagmatcook for her artistic talents during the branding session, and Michaelia Drever for her initiative to create her own intro video, and for playing an active role over the course of the two days.

What’s next for BNAY? Until the students meet again in May, they’ll keep in touch with each other and with their mentors via social media and their Smartphones. They’ll also work on their bi-weekly business challenges facilitated by their mentors, and explore business opportunities in their areas of interest.

The challenges they’re currently working on focus on Ulnooweg Development Group, preparing a business plan, analyzing TV commercials, tourist attractions within Mi’kmaq communities, and creating a newscast focused on Aboriginal economic development. The main goal of these challenges is to help students explore the various facets of business so that they can make informed decisions about their future educational plans.

For photos, videos, and a more detailed recap of the conference, visit the BNAY website at

Congratulations to the BNAY team and participating students on a successful conference and exciting learning experience!

What is your name and age, and what community are you from?

Hi! I’m Caroline Sylvester, I’m 18 years old, and I’m from Membertou First Nation. I’m a Grade 12 student at Sydney Academy.

What clubs, team, or groups are you involved in at school?

I’m a part of the youth council in Membertou, CBU’s Business Network for Aborignal Youth program, NAIG (Native American Indigenous Games) softball team, and Sydney Academy’s rugby, soccer, and softball teams.

What's your favorite subject?

My favorite subject is Aboriginal Entrepreneurship and English.

You've traveled a lot this past year! Where did you go and for what purposes?

In the last year I travelled to Kamloops BC for E- Spirit 2013 for a business plan competition with aboriginal youth with my best friend Jody Paul. I travelled to Campeche Mexico for a youth leadership camp where I lived with a Mexican family for 2 weeks and worked with orphanages and learned leadership skills.

I’ve been to Toronto in August with my friend Jody Paul just for a little get away. I also travelled to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the AFN Youth Summit which was probably the best experience ever! I learned so much and met so many inspiring young aboriginal youth from all different nations.

Just recently, I travelled to Guadalajara, Mexico with my host sister Monse to spend my birthday, Christmas, and New Years with her and her family, which was totally different.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

If I visit any place in the world right now, it would be Argentina or Italy.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to visit people, go for walks outside in the trail to clear my mind, travel, hang out with friends, help my mom around the house, go for drives and go to Tim Hortons to talk with people.

Do you have plans for what you’ll do after you graduate high school? What do you see yourself doing in ten years?

I want to go to CBU or somewhere close by for a few years and take my Bachelor of Arts and Community Studies degree and learn as much about our culture and language before I hopefully move to Saskatoon or Regina for the First Nations University of Canada.

I want to be a fluent speaker in my language and I’m learning things by bits and pieces.

If you could be or do anything at all, what would it be?

I would want to live the ways my ancestors lived long ago because the traditions and the language were so much more alive. But I love being what I am today because there’s many challenges in life and it makes life what it is.

Do you have a role model? If so, who is it, and how have they influenced you?

I have many role models, but one of them is my Mother because she brought me into this world and she made me who I am today. She’s the most beautiful person in my life.

Danny Paul because of his knowledge with our people and his big heart.

Shawna Olson, who met I from Saskatoon, because she’s very respectful to herself, keeps her traditions close to her, and she dances old style jingle which I would love to dance someday.

My aunty Barb because she’s so smart and one of the strongest people I know. She always knows what to say when I ask her for advice.

Is there something you'd like to see in your school or community that isn't there now?

I would like to see more of the language spoken by our youth, learning about the ceremonies and traditions in the old ways.

I would like to see more of the youth supporting each other and helping each other instead of judging and not liking one another. It’s important for us to work together, especially today.

In my school I would like to have our L’nu culture being a part of our education system which would be taught by our elders, the true knowledge keepers.

Any words of advice, or a personal favorite quote?

“Don’t be afraid to be different!”

Thanks, Caroline. Best of luck!

Plans are underway for the MK Summer Reading Program’s second summer, and we’re looking for communities to be hosts. Launched in the summer of 2013, the 6-week Reading Program is a new literacy initiative encouraging students to read outside of school, lead by MK Literacy Programs Coordinator, Rebecca Scirocco-Paul.

“We want students to maintain their reading levels and possibly increase their reading levels for the next school year,” says Scirocco-Paul. “We had an excellent turnout in both communities and received lots of positive feedback from parents.”

What they had to say:

“I love when they come home telling me that their teacher always compliments them on their reading and writing skills, and that they are on this level, or that they went up a level. It really makes me proud of their accomplishments. When you sit there listening to your child read to you unassisted, it feels like magic.”

“I think it was valuable for the children having this reading program over the summer. I know personally it helped with my girls. My girls continue to read and one of my daughters went up 2 levels just over the Christmas break.”

“I thought the summer reading program was very valuable to my children and it helped them excel in reading. They didn't have a hard time transitioning back into school after the summer like previous years. I feel that the reading program helped instill in them a love for reading.”

Communities interested in hosting this year’s program are encouraged to contact Rebecca at or 902-567-0336.



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