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December 2, 2005

Source: University College of Cape Breton:

CBU Grad Represents First Nations Youth

The Assembly of First Nations chose Cape Breton University graduate and current instructor Jaime Battiste to represent Canadian First Nations Youth at the First Ministers Conference on Aboriginal Affairs in Kelowna last week.

Battiste was one of 15 Aboriginal representatives included in focused discussions with the Prime Minister, Cabinet Members, Premiers, Chiefs and Elders from across Canada. He was selected by his peers at a recent meeting in Ottawa, based upon his active role as the Youth Co-Chair for the AFN. Battiste is also the Aboriginal First Nations Youth Role Model of the Year

Five topics dominated the agenda and Battiste’s remarks centred on the issues of Education, Economic Development, Health, Housing and First Nations Relationships with Government. All five items are considered to be steps towards bridging the gap of poverty for Aboriginal people. Battiste, on behalf of the AFN Youth Membership, deliver a Communiqué addressing these matters. He was selected as Youth Chair in Yellowknife this past summer.

"I consider it an honor to represent the Aboriginal youth of this nation on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations and to represent my own community and Cape Breton University," notes Battiste.

A number of highlights came about for Battiste at this conference. One included the Prime Minister’s remarks noting the importance of secondary education in furthering Aboriginal education, and mentioned that there need to be a study done to see which universities are excelling in Aboriginal curriculum. He noted Cape Breton University as being one of them.

During Premier John Hamm’s (NS) speech focusing on Aboriginal education, he emphasized the ongoing commitment Cape Breton University Mi’kmaq Studies program had in furthering the development of Mi’kmaq curriculum that focused on language and programs that used Mi’kmaq knowledge. At that time, he held up a Cape Breton University pamphlet entitled "Atlantic Canada’s Leader in Aboriginal Post Secondary Education."

In the midst of the First Nations leaders, Premier Hamm mentioned Battiste as a role model for the students as someone who had achieved academic successes and a law degree, but chose to come back to teach his people.

Battiste, age 25, is a resident of the Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton, a graduate of Cape Breton University (BA 2000) who also completed his law degree in 2004. He currently teaches Mi’kmaq Government, Aboriginal Treaty Rights and Introduction to Mi’kmaq Studies to students in the Faculty of Arts and Community Studies Mi’kmaq Governance Program offered at Cape Breton University.

"It is wonderful to have a member of our teaching faculty involved at this level in the presentation and discussion of critically important Aboriginal issues," states CBU President John Harker. "This University is committed to furthering Aboriginal post-secondary educational opportunities for Canada as a whole. Jaime Battiste’s participation in this First Ministers Conference is a credit to his commitment and dedication to the efforts of the Assembly of First Nations and Aboriginal learning overall."

Cape Breton University is home to Canada’s first and only prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research in Integrative Science. With established First Nations partnerships, scientific research, sound programming, dedicated faculty, national recognition and successful graduates, Aboriginal programming and services at CBU continue to grow. The University is regarded as a successful model for the rest of Canada.



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