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Business has a significant effect on the day-to-day activities of our lives regardless of where we live. The Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP) teaches Aboriginal youth about business and entrepreneurship, in order to help prepare them to engage in business activity with competence and confidence. By receiving Grade 11 and Grade 12 AYEP secondary school credits, the program moves students closer to high school completion and the opportunity to go on to post-secondary studies.

AYEP uses innovative hands-on activities to improve students’ proficiency in Business Mathematics, Financial Literacy, Accounting, Marketing, Information/ Communications Technology, and social responsibility while supporting the acquisition of leadership skills. As financial literacy is a necessary skill in the 21st century, AYEP teaches students various elements of business and personal financial literacy including how to develop a budget, knowledge of banking and the economy, how to create spread sheets and the importance of financial projections. Students in turn take this knowledge and learn how to develop a product or service-based business. Through AYEP, students have access to business competitions, guest speakers, simulations, mentorship from established entrepreneurs and field trips to businesses. The program is closely monitored and its success is determined through both quantitative and qualitative measures. Interested students are also given an opportunity to access funding to start their own micro-business.

The Goals of AYEP:

  • Build capacity in business and entrepreneurship
  • Teach financial literacy skills
  • Develop self confidence in developing and communicating ideas
  • Enhance critical and creative thinking
  • Enrich project and time management skills
  • Cultivate leadership and collaborative skills
  • Help students develop long term personal and education goals
  • Move students closer to secondary school completion and in turn one step closer to post-secondary studies

The AYEP Story

MAEI first initiated AYEP as a pilot project in 2007, with the support of the Grand Chief and Council of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, for a group of students attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nation High School (DFC) in Thunder Bay. The program was first taught by a teacher originally from Tataskwayak First Nation in northern Manitoba.

Students who attend DFC are from remote fly-in First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, and stay with local Thunder Bay families while completing their high school education.

The two credit program is eligible to meet provincial and territorial high school requirements across Canada. It has received input from Aboriginal leaders, business community members and educators to ensure the program materials meets the learning needs of Aboriginal students.

Entrepreneurship Textbooks

It is very important that Aboriginal students see themselves reflected in the textbooks and other materials they use in school. For this reason, after the program had been taught for three years and at the request of AYEP students, MAEI worked with Nelson Education Ltd. to develop teacher resource materials and student textbooks for both the Grade 11 and the Grade 12 courses. These materials specifically reflect the students for whom the program was designed.

The materials are the first of their kind in Canada and were written by two Aboriginal teachers who taught the Grade 11 and 12 AYEP programs. The materials have been very well-received by students, teachers and principals.  Many attribute the success of the program to the high quality resources that were developed specifically for AYEP.

Gordon Bell High School - textbook

Role of the Partners

Business Community

Experienced business people and post-secondary students serve as mentors to encourage, listen, give advice, advocate, act as role models, share information and experiences. The mentors help students develop employability skills through encouraging and modelling traits such as dependability, communication skills, teamwork and knowledge of professional language and attire. They assist students to set goals, make personal decisions, and resolve problems. The mentoring experience not only provides students with an important relationship, but empowers them to use the experience to plan and work towards their future.

Volunteers from the business community also judge business plan competitions, speak to students on specific topics and arrange tours of their workplaces.

Banks provide financial information, offer job-shadowing opportunities for students, speak to classes on various aspects of banking, and support students as they establish their business accounts.

Post-Secondary Institutions

Colleges and universities serve a number of roles:

  • Arrange for students and staff to serve as mentors;
  • Encourage Aboriginal youth through scholarships;
  • Host student business competitions;
  • Establish outreach programs in secondary schools to encourage students to enrol in post-secondary programs, and
  • Conduct research on the program. For example, Lakehead University and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto evaluated the program.

Participating Schools

Ahtahkakoop School
Canwood, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation

Alberni District Secondary School
Port Alberni, British Columbia
Operated by: School District 70

Balcarres Community School
Balcarres, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Prairie Valley School Division

Beaver Brae Secondary School
Kenora, Ontario
Operated by: Keewatin-Patricia DSB

Bert Fox Community High School
Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Prairie Valley School Division

Bonar Law Memorial High School
Rexton, New Brunswick
Operated by: School District 16

Career Pathways School
Wabasca, Alberta
Operated by: Northland School
Division No. 61

Carlton Comprehensive Public High School
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatchewan Rivers School Division #119

Charles Hays Secondary School
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Operated by: School District # 52

Children of the Earth High School
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Operated by: Winnipeg School Division

Churchill Community High School
La Ronge, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Northern Lights School Division #113

City Park Collegiate
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatoon Public

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Operated by: Northern Nishnawbe
Education Council

E.D. Feehan Catholic High School
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatoon Public Schools

Eagle View Comprehensive High School
Onion Lake Cree Nation
Operated by Onion Lake Cree Nation

École Voyageur Memorial School
Mistissini, QC
Operated by Cree School Board

Father Patrick Mercredi Community
High School

Fort McMurray, Alberta
Operated by: Fort McMurray Catholic
Board of Education

Fort Frances Secondary School
Fort Frances, Ontario
Operated by: Rainy River DSB

Fort McMurray Composite High School
Fort McMurray, Alberta
Operated by: Fort McMurray Public School District

Fort Nelson Secondary School
Fort Nelson, British Columbia
Operated by: School District 81
Fort Nelson

Gordon Bell High School
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Operated by: Winnipeg School Division

Grand Rapids School
Grand Rapids, Manitoba
Operated by: Frontier School Division

Grande Prairie Composite
Grande Prairie, Alberta
Operated by: Grande Prairie Public School District # 2357

H.B. Beal Secondary School
London, Ontario
Operated by: Thames Valley DSB

John Paul II Collegiate
North Battleford, SK
Operated by: Light of Christ Catholic School Division

Kainai High School
Blood Reserve, Alberta
Operated by: Kainai Board of Education

LP Miller Comprehensive School
Nipawin, Saskatchewan
Operated by: North East School Division

Major Pratt School
Russell, Manitoba
Operated by: Park West School Division

Mount Royal Collegiate
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatoon Public Schools

Oscar Lathlin Collegiate
Opaskwayak, Manitoba
Operated by: Opaskwayak Educational Authority

Oskāyak High School
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

Prince Albert Collegiate Institute
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatchewan Rivers School Division #119

Queen Elizabeth Secondary School
Sioux Lookout, Ontario
Operated by: Keewatin-Patricia DSB

Rossignol High School
Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Île-à-la-Crosse School
Division No. 112

Sakewew High School
North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Operated by: North Battleford

Saugeen District Secondary School
Port Elgin, Ontario
Operated by: Bluewater DSB

Scott Collegiate
Regina, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Regina Public Schools

Sir Wilfred Laurier Collegiate
Toronto (Scarborough), Ontario
Operated by: Toronto DSB

Sir Winston Churchill C & VI
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Operated by: Lakehead DSB

St. Basil Secondary School
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Operated by: Huron Superior Catholic DSB

St. Charles College
Sudbury, Ontario
Operated by: Sudbury Catholic DSB

St Mary High School
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Prince Albert Catholic School Division

St Patrick High School
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Operated by: Thunder Bay Catholic DSB

Sydney Academy
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Operated by: Cape Breton Victoria
Regional School Board

Thomas Simpson Secondary School
Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories
Operated by: Dehcho Divisional
Education Council

W.L. Seaton Secondary
Vernon, British Columbia
Operated by: School District No. 22

Wallaceburg District Secondary School
Wallaceburg, Ontario
Operated by: Lambton-Kent DSB

Wesmor Community High School
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Operated by: Saskatchewan Rivers School Division #119