Business Network for Aboriginal Youth

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!