Southern Alberta aboriginal high school to get youth business program

STANDOFF, Alta. – An aboriginal youth business program is coming to the Blood reserve in southern Alberta.

The program at Kainai (kye-nye) High School will be open to students in Grades 11 and 12 and aims to provide business knowledge and financial literacy skills.

There will also be hands-on experience with local businesses.

Former prime minister Paul Martin and his Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative is behind the program, along with the Blood Tribe and Scotiabank.

A similar program began about two years ago in The Pas, Man.

Martin says Kainai was chosen in part because it is a progressive school.

“The forward thinking of the Blood tribe is a very important part of this and the success of the school,” Martin said on a visit to the reserve Tuesday.

“This is really about indigenous youth who understand that if they get an education — the right kind of an education — and if they understand what opportunity lies in front of them, there is nothing that can hold them back.”

The work experience is an important part of the program, Martin added.

“You can teach a lot in the classroom … but it’s when you see those principles applied in real life — either through the bank or businesses in the area — you can then see that the decisions that you take actually have a really application.”

Scotiabank president and CEO, Brian Porter, said business skills are important for all Canadian youth.

“This is really about supporting … entrepreneurial skills that … the youth across Canada have to learn, whether it’s about leadership, whether it’s IT, whether it’s about marketing or whether it’s about business generally,” Porter said.