Mount Royal University (MRU) and Old Sun Community College are coming together to develop a program that will help foster Indigenous business growth.

The new program is called the Indigenous Business and Economic Development (IBED).

Through IBED Indigenous students will immerse themselves in a business and management education designed specifically for them. MRU faculty are developing 10 courses specific to Indigenous management with a strong focus on Indigenous partnerships to help guide the IBED curriculum.

We spoke with Dr. Andrew Bear Robe who saw an opportunity for Old Sun College to take the lead on implementing his vision and presented the idea while with the College’s Board of Governors.

“The Indigenous Bachelor of Education program at Mount Royal University, it’s goal is to turnout Indigenous graduates that will have the necessary skill sets to go into local economic development for Siksika Nation,” he said.

He explained that the program is open to Indigenous students in Southern Alberta and non-Indigenous students who may want to work in Indigenous economic development in the future.

It’s important to have Indigenous representation at local post-secondary institutions

“We're talking about economic reconciliation with Canada,” said Bear Robe. He explained that the program fills a void in human resource development for Southern Alberta First Nations.

“If you take a look at the really successful First Nations in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and also in the northern areas of Alberta, we see First Nations making economic ground and they don't have enough of their own graduate students to work in their business environment,” he said.

"The courses that will be offered will prepare any student for the world of economic development, whether that be in an enterprise that deals with industry or farming and ranching, they will be come out as graduates and will have all the skill sets to form business independent ownership plans to make their businesses a success,” said bear Robe.

He noted graduates could go on individually to establish businesses or they may be employed by First Nations governments, like Siksika Nation, or neighbouring municipalities like the Town of Strathmore.

“This is a program of economic empowerment of Indigenous students from Siksika Nation and other First Nations in and around Southern Alberta,” he said.

“We are so pleased to be able to partner with Old Sun Community College for the establishment of the IBED concentration within the Bissett School of Business, which will further progress MRU's indigenization efforts and drive economic growth for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” says Dr. Tim Rahilly, PhD, MRU president and vice-chancellor.

Old Sun Community College has a longstanding partnership with MRU, the facility which was once a residential school began as a satellite camps of what was Mount Royal College.