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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