Thompson Rivers University

Indigenous students explore business careers through inspiring event

April 22, 2024

Elijah Mack from the Kekuli Café addresses the crowd at Indigenous Pathways to Business.

In March, the Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics partnered with TRU’s Office of Indigenous Education and the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) to host a lunch-and-learn event for Indigenous students and allies. The Indigenous Pathways in Business event provided an opportunity for Indigenous students, alumni and community members to learn about various career avenues they could pursue with a business education.

Over 60 guests attended, with approximately 20 self-identified current Indigenous students and prospective students or recent TRU alumni.

“Indigenous economic development opportunities are opening doors for many Indigenous communities and we want to prepare community members to take advantage of these opportunities to operate successful businesses and enterprises that lead to self-sufficiency, independence and success,” says Tina Matthew, executive director, Office of Indigenous Education at TRU.

“The Indigenous Pathways to Business event showcases a variety of areas where people can become skilled and trained to benefit their communities.”

The TRU Indigenous student drum club opened the event, followed by inspiring career stories from Indigenous professionals – including TRU alumni – and a networking session with information booths and resources for Indigenous people.

“Both for themselves and for their communities, it is important for Indigenous students at TRU to have opportunities to explore possible pathways to careers in business,” says Dr. Jim Gaisford, professor and associate dean at TRU Gaglardi. “It’s through these types of events that we help students feel empowered and supported in their career journeys.”

The lunch-and-learn was proposed by CPABC, who sponsored the event to showcase pathways and career options in business programs. The organization hosted a similar event in the past and received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“CPABC is dedicated to fostering greater attractiveness and accessibility for Indigenous people within the accounting profession. As the sole regulator and educator of professional accountants in the province, an aspect of our core mandate is to ensure there are aptly skilled CPAs who can meet the needs of their communities,” says Sharon Hummel, manager of student recruitment at CPABC.

Other businesses and organizations in attendance included the First Nations Management Board, Scotiabank, TD Bank, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Vivacity Technologies, the Royal Bank of Canada, Taseko and All Nations Trust Company.

For many attendees, the keynote address by Elijah Mack, owner of Kekuli Cafe, stood out as an empowering example of personal and professional success. In sharing his story, Mack emphasized how important it was to him to give back to his family and uplift his community through his work.

Julie John, a TRU Indigenous alum who participated in the alumni panel, enjoyed the luncheon and networking. “The keynote speaker was phenomenal and just kept it real. Very inspiring!”

Held at TRU’s Scratch Café, the event included an Indigenous-inspired lunch menu, developed by Assistant Teaching Professor and Red Seal Chef Adam Florence and skillfully prepared by TRU culinary arts students. Dishes included Métis baked bannock biscuits, smoked steelhead trout and corn soup, and sweet and sour bison meatballs.

Related Posts