Athabasca University, Red Crow Community College partner on new Indigenous programs
Certificate programs strengthen connection with Indigenous communities, create more options for Indigenous students
Athabasca University (AU) has launched a new partnership with Red Crow Community College (RCCC) to create more options and opportunities for Indigenous students to pursue post-secondary education.
The Alberta-based institutions are offering 2 new programs, including the Niitsitapi Business Administration (NBA) certificate through RCCC, located in Stand Off, Alta., which includes several courses delivered by AU. Graduates of that program can continue learning at AU through the Indigenous Community Economic Development and Planning (ICED) certificate, or a bachelor’s degree.
Certificate programs developed by Indigenous scholars
ICED is a 1-year certificate program that includes 8 courses on economics planning for Indigenous communities and organizations. The program is led and developed by Indigenous business scholars and practitioners with the intent of providing knowledge and skills that can benefit a student’s home community.
“Designed with a lived Indigenous context in mind, the program provides learners with relatable and relevant content, flexibility, and supports to reduce systemic barriers to success,” explained Dr. Lisa Watson, dean of the Faculty of Business. “I am continually humbled to hear learners’ stories and I am excited to see the great things they will continue to accomplish going forward.”
“I am continually humbled to hear learners’ stories and I am excited to see the great things they will continue to accomplish going forward.”– Lisa Watson, dean of the Faculty of Business
The NBA is also a 1-year certificate program with 3 of the 10 courses provided by AU. Upon completion of the certificate, students can continue their studies for another year and earn a dual institution certification—NBA diploma, through RCCC and an ICED certificate through AU. In addition, the ICED certificate can count toward AU’s Bachelor of Commerce, Indigenous Business Major, which can then be used towards AU’s world-renowned online MBA.
Student hungry to learn from Indigenous Ways of Knowing
Maxine Willows of Cardston, Alta., was planning on taking a year off from counselling to care for her grandson while her daughter pursued a teaching degree. But when she came across a Facebook ad for the NBA certificate, she was intrigued at the possibility to continue learning.
When she started the program in September, Willows says she felt a little overwhelmed and excited by all the knowledge she was taking in. Before starting the program, she didn’t pay much attention to things like the Indian Act or Treaties and the impact they have on the lives of Indigenous people in Canada.
“I’m seeing things differently now,” Willows said. “I never really looked into the Indian Act or the Treaties. They were just there. But now when I look, I realize, that’s kind of what hinders us. We still have to go through, in some sense, an Indian Agent.”
“I’m seeing things differently now. I never really looked into the Indian Act or the Treaties. They were just there. But now when I look, I realize, that’s kind of what hinders us. We still have to go through, in some sense, an Indian Agent.”– Maxine Willows, NBA student
Now in her 2nd semester, Willows says she’s starting to connect what she’s learning with her career as counsellor. When it comes down to it, “the community needs to be there,” she said.
“They need support to get started. It’s the same as in counselling. People need support. I’m connecting things together.”
“I'm going to go, listen a little more, and understand a little more now.”– Maxine Willows
While Willows is undecided on whether she will continue on her education journey beyond the NBA certificate, one thing is for certain—as she connects with her Indigenous perspective and those of others, she is hungry to learn more. She wants to make a difference in her community.
“I’m going to go, listen a little more, and understand a little more now,” she said.
Learn more about Indigenous programs offered at AU.