Globe and Mail: Business schools reach out to Indigenous students
Those are issues that are also tackled at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business through its Indigenous Business Education Partners (IBEP) unit. Its director, Peter Pomart, describes the unit as “a leadership incubator for students.”
Originally started in 1994, its name reflects its goal of doing “everything in partnership,” he says, “with corporate partners, with donors, and with our tutors. The work we do is really facilitating relationships to benefit our students’ experience as they work on their BComm [bachelor of commerce].”
Mr. Pomart works with a full-time recruiter who attends career fairs in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. “We also have a fairly robust scholarship pool,” he says. And agreements with regional colleges allow business students to expand on their diplomas by completing Asper’s bachelor of commerce with two more years of study, and apply for bursaries to help pay for that.
IBEP also offers a social component, says Mr. Pomart. “Our staff is very proactive in setting up appointments with new students coming straight from high school, as well as rural students, and putting them in touch with any resources they may need.”
They do that together with the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Commerce Students Club, which is partly funded by IBEP. “They assist us by putting on social events and creating the environment where new students can find their place, find a home, here at the Asper school,” he says.
Asper’s aboriginal business studies major, meanwhile, is the only one of its kind in Canada. It features courses offered jointly with the university’s department of native studies.
“This major helps companies engaging with Indigenous communities with the knowledge they need as it relates to development projects or diversifying their work force,” says Mr. Pomart.