Aboriginal high school students from School District 70 could soon benefit from a program sponsored by former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin.
Called the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program, the initiative encourages aboriginal youth to attend school and develop skills to succeed in school, college/university and the workplace.
Superintendent Cam Pinkerton told trustees on March 13 that talks between officials from SD 70, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Alberni District Secondary School and Martin officials took place recently.
“The message we got was “yes — we want SD 70 to be part of this,” Pinkerton said, adding that the talks were preliminary. They are examining a five-year commitment.
If granted, the course would be taught as a class at high school and would be open to aboriginal students in Grade 11-12.
SD 70 would contribute 0.5 teaching time, which equates to $20,000, Pinkerton said. The Martin Initiative would contribute material based on Ontario Senior Business Studies curriculum, guest speakers, mentors and field trips.
Throughout the term, students would learn how to create a product or service-based business, as well as how to manage micro financing the initiative provides.
An official from Martin’s office confirmed that discussions with SD 70 have taken place. “But this is nowhere near a done deal, we have a long way to go yet.”
There are 1,060 fulltime equivalent aboriginal students within SD 70 between Port Alberni and the West Coast. Between 250-260 aboriginal students attend ADSS.
Martin started the aboriginal initiative in 2006 along with an aboriginal entrepreneurial development fund. The program operates in six provinces, with two programs operating in B.C.