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Source: University College of Cape Breton

Students Benefit from Growing First Nations Partnerships at CBU

October 23, 2006

Students Benefit from Growing First Nations Partnerships at CBU

Today, in celebration of Mi’kmaq History Month, the Mi’kmaq College Institute at Cape Breton University recognized First Nation community partnerships with a special dedication and an open house.

The dedication of "CLAS" or Community Liaison Access Space symbolizes direction, neutrality, mentoring and open interaction with First Nations communities.

The room, located within the Mi’kmaq College Institute, will provide a setting for First Nations community representatives to meet with students from their home community and maintain on-going contact and support. The area will also be open to special visiting guests from First Nations communities around the country and beyond.

The celebration included remarks from the Centre’s new Associate Dean, Lindsay Marshall, CBU President John Harker, and Grand Captain Andrew Denny. CBU student Amanda Milliea was also presented with a $1,000 Aboriginal education award from Canada Post. Milliea is a Bachelor of Science Community Studies student studying Toqwa’tu’kl Kjijitaqnn/Integrative Science.

"The concept of CLAS provides an exciting link in our mentoring processes – a vital link between our Aboriginal youth and the Elders, alumni and community members they view as role models," says Marshall, a CBU alumnus and current MBA Community Economic Development student.

"Today we celebrate a place where the Mi’kmaq language and culture is respected and studied on a daily basis. We are proud to share MCI with the greater community."

Known as the Altantic Canadian leader in Aboriginal post-secondary education, CBU is currently home to more than 200 Mi’kmaq students and has graduated more than 300 Mi’kmaq and First Nations students.

The new space builds on the philosophy of ‘co-learning’ which forms the foundation of CBU Mi’kmaq and other First Nations programming. This belief encourages an environment of combined perspectives, which has fostered a welcoming and meaningful environment for Aboriginal students.

Marshall, former Chief of Chapel Island (Potlotek), is an accomplished author, businessman, sailer and avid member of various Aboriginal committees feels strongly about his new position at CBU. "MCI is something very special and our focus is to forge further national and international connections. Most importantly, it is a working, learning model that will go far and build on the enthusiasm and skills of Aboriginal youth and prepare them for careers in research, science, nursing and more." CBU was the first university in Canada to have a freestanding institute inside a university which is dedicated to Mi’kmaw academic studies.

Guests included representatives from First Nations communities on the Island, faculty staff and students from CBU’s various Aboriginal programs and resources. Following the dedication, guests and community members enjoyed authentic Mi’kmaq cuisine during an open house at MCI. Baked salmon, moose stew, baked eels, eel stew, four cents/L’uskinikn cakes, fish cakes and beans, and Tiamewey chili were on the menu.

In keeping with the mission of Cape Breton University, the Mi’kmaq College Institute strives to meet the needs of the Mi’kmaq communities of Mi’kma’ki.

"The university’s contributions towards Aboriginal learning and partnerships are both responsive and forward-looking, locally and nationally. Today, at the Mi’kmaq College Institute, the opportunities for learning based on partnerships between our Aboriginal students and First Nations communities reached an exciting new level," says CBU President John Harker.

The foundation of the Mi’kmaq College Institute has made it possible for Mi’kmaq students, educators, scholars, and researchers of Mi’kmaq cosmology to establish a curriculum and research agenda which contributes to the achievement of the educational and community goals set by Mi’kmaq communities.

Some programs are offered in modularized formats to better serve community needs. Mi’kmaq students also have access to specialized programming including the Mi’kmaq Science Advantage Program. An exciting development at CBU in the past few years is the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science awarded to Professor Cheryl Bartlett.

Success is now found beyond the walls of CBU in the lives of the over 300 Mi’kmaq and First Nations’ graduates who have gone on to pursue studies in law, education and a multitude of other disciplines. Many of the graduates have returned to their home communities to serve as educators, social workers, band administrators, health advisors and university professors.


Did You Know?

The Mi’kmaq Resource Centre at CBU has the largest collection of material written about or on the Mi’kmaw people in Canada

CBU offers an MBA in Community Economic Development with a First Nations option

CBU was the first university in Canada to:
offer a BA Major in Mi’kmaq Studies

offer a Bachelor of Science in Western Science and traditional Aboriginal knowledge (Integrative Science)

hold a degree granting Convocation ceremony encompassing Mi’kmaq traditions, held in a Mi’kmaq community (Wagmatcook, NS in 2004). This will take place again in November at the Indian Brook, NS First Nations reserve.

develop a university accredited Certificate Program in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Preservation

have a tenured Mi’kmaq Studies professor specializing in Mi’kmaq culture and history who was the first graduate student in Canada to write her MA thesis in an Aboriginal language (Mi’kmaw).

Kelly Rose
Communications Officer
Cape Breton University
Tel: (902) 563-1638



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