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Northern First Nations students to benefit from deal with Asper School of Business

The Asper School of Business has announced they have entered into what they are calling a “historic” agreement, as they look to help First Nations leaders in northern Manitoba create more business and economic opportunities for First Nations people.

On Tuesday, Asper School of Business Dean Bruno Silvestre joined Manitoba Keewatinowki Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee and Norway House Cree Nation Chief Larson Anderson in Norway House, where the three signed onto a Memorandum of Understanding. (MOU)

“The Asper School of Business is taking historic steps in our ongoing journey toward Reconciliation by signing this MOU, the first of its kind for our school,” Silvestre said in a media release this week after the agreement was signed.

“This MOU formalizes our commitment to work closely with Norway House Cree Nation and MKO, supporting the future of First Nations people and business.”

According to MKO, the new agreement comes after several months of discussions and planning, and will now outline several areas of “synergy” between the respective parties, and where they can better work together to assist First Nations business students and prospective entrepreneurs.

The MOU lays out a number of steps to be taken to improve First Nations outcomes and experiences at the business school, and to “better meet their needs, and promote their academic success and personal well-being.”

The agreement calls for the development of joint programs and initiatives aimed at creating employment opportunities in business, economic development, and entrepreneurship for northern First Nations people, and for collaboration to integrate “greater First Nations-relevant training and topics” into Asper programs and courses,

It also calls for more initiatives that would connect First Nations people with members of the business community.

“After months of discussions and meetings, I am pleased to sign this MOU on behalf of Norway House Cree Nation,” Chief Anderson said.

“This MOU will lay the groundwork for a better path forward for the future of our youth and will provide opportunities that will ensure their professional and personal success for them and their families.”

According to MKO, the agreement also calls for a level of accountability, as it requires reporting annually to all parties on activities undertaken under the MOU.

Settee called the new agreement a “promising step,” as they look to create more employment, business and entrepreneurial opportunities for First Nations people in NHCN, and across northern Manitoba.

“I know the importance of providing access and opportunities for MKO First Nation members in all areas of education and in this case, business education,” Settee said. “The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between the Asper School of Business, Norway House Cree Nation and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is a promising step in the right direction.

“The business sector is key to the realization of self-determination for our people, and access and opportunities in business education are consistent with reconciliation.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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