Feel empowered to achieve your educational goals
ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF BUSINESS
Athabasca University (AU) is Canada’s open university and has been at the forefront of distance education for over 50 years. AU is 1 of 4 research-intensive, publicly funded, and accredited institutions in Alberta. You can rest assured that your AU experience represents a rigorous, highquality university education. AU is a respected and recognized university with a proven track record. AU is fully accredited in Canada and the United States.
Offering the world’s first online Master of Business Administration program in 1994, the Faculty of Business at AU (AU-FB) pioneered online business education and continues to innovate in this digital space. As a trusted name with a strong reputation, AU-FB strives to empower learners to achieve their academic goals and continues to dismantle the barriers that may stand in their way. Whether it is a course, certificate, diploma, or degree, there are a range of educational options and professional development options to choose from. No need for learners to uproot their lives either—with flexible options, students can learn on their time and complete at their own pace.
STRATEGIC PRIORITIES AND EXISTING PARTNERSHIPS
Education has the power to transform a person’s life and in turn, their community. AU-FB’s strategic priorities are to enable learners to access educational opportunities and to remove the barriers that may stand in the way of achieving academic goals.
Recognizing higher education needs reform to address the obstacles facing Indigenous Peoples and strengthen the elements that increase success, AU-FB sought out like-minded partners and sponsors, including the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Alberta (AFOA-AB) and CPA Education Foundation. By collaborating with such partners, AU-FB has been able to enhance and develop programs that are more accessible to Indigenous Peoples.
Supporting Indigenous Learners
AU-FB with AFOA Alberta developed a unique Bachelor of Commerce program that pairs online course delivery with face-to-face instruction and one-on-one mentors. In-person classes typically take place on the weekends, so they are easier for students to attend. A peer support network for Indigenous students also connects people going through similar experiences, reinforcing a sense of belonging.
The course content is made relevant with immediate, real-world applications. Students can use the knowledge and resources they gain in the classroom to improve their community and generate opportunities for themselves and their neighbours. Graduates will be better equipped to lead businesses and Indigenous organizations and contribute to their local economy. Not only can they create products and services that serve Indigenous people, but they also can develop partnerships and joint ventures as well.
Work, life, and past educational experience may be eligible for credits towards your AU-FB education. If you’ve studied at other post-secondary institutions or want to challenge a course
credit, there are ways that you could earn credits towards your AU-FB program or course.
AU’s process for transferring credits helps ensure eligible credentials from your previous education
can contribute towards your program or course. If you’re still unsure, call an Indigenous student advisor at 1-800-468-6531. They can help you uncover credits you may already have and to navigate your next steps.
“ Our university certificate in Indigenous Community Economic Development and Planning and Bachelor of Commerce Indigenous Business major have been designed by Indigenous scholars for Indigenous learners. Designed with a lived Indigenous context in mind, they provide learners with relatable and relevant content, flexibility, and supports to reduce systemic barriers to success. I am continually humbled to hear learners’ stories and I am excited to see the great things they will continue to accomplish going forward.”
— DR. LISA WATSON, DEAN, FACULTY OF BUSINESS
MAJOR & CERTIFICATE
INTRODUCTION TO INDIGENOUS BUSINESS INBU 201
Created from an Indigenous perspective, this course introduces fundamental business topics including accounting, finance, management, and marketing, within the economic, cultural, political, and legal business contexts. Ethics, social responsibility, business types, and entrepreneurship are also introduced. Students will obtain an overview of the study of business, specifically from an Indigenous perspective.
FINANCIAL & MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTING FOR INDIGENOUS INSTITUTIONS & ORGANIZATIONS INBU 250
INBU 250 provides an introduction to accounting concepts related to not-for-profit organizations, including financial reporting, budgeting, cash flow management, financial statement analysis, and accounting for payroll in an Indigenous context. Also included is an overview of accounting for First Nation government entities. The course provides theory and application using authentic scenarios that require learners to demonstrate the application of technical knowledge.
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION & LAW FOR INDIGENOUS BUSINESS INBU 330
INBU 330 introduces students to the legal system of Canada and places it in context with Indigenous-settler relationships. Organized around the four quadrants of the medicine wheel and incorporating oral traditions of Indigenous nations from across Canada, students will develop an improved understanding of the forms of business organization, issues surrounding employment law and taxation, issues related to intellectual property protection and commerce, enforcement of contracts, resource development, consultation, and the crown’s duty.
INDIGENOUS MARKETING & DATA COLLECTION & ANALYSIS INBU 350
This course explores specialized areas of marketing, including market research, data collection, and analysis, including quantitative and qualitative methods. Learners are encouraged to become active participants in learning how marketing affects organizations, Indigenous people, and themselves. Contemporary Canadian, Indigenous, and international examples will help students understand the practical relevance of theoretical applications. Students will be encouraged to develop applications for their communities and Indigenous organizations.
INTRODUCTION TO INDIGENOUS HUMAN RELATIONS INBU 386
The course will introduce fundamental leadership skills, including communication topics used in business. Covering essential Indigenous human resource topics, such as communication, leadership, interpersonal skills development, working with teams and groups, and digital work environments, students will develop a relevant vocabulary and understand fundamental concepts from a leadership discipline.
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT I & II INBU 461/462
Community-led planning and engagement contribute to a healthy First Nation. Community planning involves collecting and analyzing data, community and leadership facilitation and engagement, and developing a planning document. Indigenous community planning is an agreed-upon state that involves all First Nation members to strengthen and sustain their community members’ cultural, social, economic, environmental, and spiritual safety and well-being. This course develops the necessary tools to plan, finance, manage, forecast, and report on community plans and projects.
APPLIED RESEARCH IN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS INBU 490
The course gives the learners the chance to address a challenge or opportunity facing a First Nation, Inuit, or Metis community or organization. To do this, the learners will apply content from prior Indigenous business courses. In addressing the opportunity or challenge, students will utilize research methods, interviews with elders and key participants to develop an applied research proposal. Students will engage in projects, such as community planning & development, social enterprise proposals, small-scale resource development, or other approved projects that contextualize the learner’s interests.
I wanted to get my MBA because I wanted to focus on business—First Nations are lacking in science, law, and business ... With my MBA I could get out there and see more, spread my wings more, and most importantly, be able to help First Nations in any capacity.”
CARTER YELLOWBIRD, MBA Business Partner, Alberta Innovates
Cardinal has been involved and learning with AFOA Alberta since 2012. She has been working with the Kehewin Band Office for over 20 years and is currently the Finance and Accreditation Coordinator with Kehewin Health Centre, where she is responsible for planning the Nation’s benefits and pension plan.
The AFOA Alberta and AU BComm program teaches through an applied Indigenous cultural perspective—a method of learning that has helped Cardinal give back to her community. The practice is invaluable for Nation members who are working directly with their people. She continues to learn new things through her classes and remarked on the importance of building bonds with classmates. She is still friends with classmates she met back in 2012 when she started the program.
“I love that AU offers classroom instruction at AFOA Alberta’s new training center on the Enoch First Nation, but also through online learning,” she says.
BIGSTONE CREE NATION WABASCA, ALBERTA
Clayton Auger is a First Nations learner and has been working in finance with Bigstone Cree Nation since 2001. As the Chief Executive Officer of Bigstone Health Holdings Ltd., he currently manages 9 different businesses for the Nation, including 2 dental clinics, 2 pharmacies, an optometry clinic, Bigstone Medical Transportation, and Bigstone Lot 25 Corp.—the real estate arm of the Nation.
“As an investor, there aren’t a lot of people who are going to get out of school and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to build a clinic in Wabasca,’” Auger says.
Before he started working with Bigstone Cree Nation, most of the Nation’s finance personnel were hired from off-reserve. He saw that his Nation needed help from the inside and decided to pursue a career in finance—a field he feels very passionate about.— CLAYTON AUGER
“ We actually opened up our own services to provide for our community. The best way to predict our future is to build it.”
BRENDA CARDINAL KEHEWIN CREE NATION, KEHEWIN, ALBERTA
“I’ve always been interested in finance and numbers ... that was my passion,” says Brenda Cardinal, a First Nations learner from Kehewin Cree Nation.
ERMINESKIN CREE NATION, MASKWACIS, ALBERTA
“This is a quote I’m borrowing from my dad:
ERMINESKIN CREE NATION, MASKWACIS, ALBERTA
In 2012, while working for Niwihcihaw Acceptance Ltd., Toni Whitebear was encouraged by her manager to take courses with AFOA Alberta.
“You have to be able to be mainstream while also protecting your culture. That’s what I’m trying to be. I’m trying to be someone who can leave but would prefer to stay and be proud of where they came from.”
Although she never dreamed of going to university as a youth, the program has helped Deanne see that anything is possible. “The instructors and deans are smart, educated, but they aren’t intimidating,” she says. “It’s encouraging and non-judgmental. I love that.”
For close to a decade, Lightning has been working with the band and managing the Ermineskin Food Bank. She has also led the Ermineskin National Child Benefit program—an initiative with a large operational budget. She works with youth work programs, helps with daycare fees, driver’s licence training, and several other community projects.
“I like to help people,” she says. “I don’t have dreams about being Chief or a Councillor. You don’t have to be in Council to be a leader. I have a lot of plans for ways we can help people.”
“AFOA Alberta helped me get on the right path,” Toni says. “I’m constantly learning ... I’m 41 years old and working towards my degree—education opens doors and new opportunities.”
In 2013, she earned her Certificate in Aboriginal Financial Management in 2013 and is currently working towards her degree. AFOA Alberta helped Whitebear surpass educational barriers to enroll with the Faculty of Business at AU. A devoted mother of seven, Whitebear praises the flexible schedule that AU and AFOA Alberta offer her in the Bachelor of Commerce program.
“The courses AU and AFOA-AB offer are great— you can do them anywhere,” she says. The courses offered by AFOA-AB are designed to be taken by Indigenous Peoples living in Alberta—who benefit from the Indigenous focused curriculum by bringing back what they’ve learned to help their communities.
“Indigenous Peoples from all over Alberta come together ... we get to know each other and network,” Whitebear says. “Courses are geared towards what we know. It’s relevant to working with the Nation. AFOA-AB and AU chose the right people to teach us and help us learn—they’re really good educators.”— TONI WHITEBEAR
“ I read my textbooks at my sons’ hockey practices. Whenever I have a free minute—I have my textbooks with me—you don’t have to sit in class all day.”
“ You have to learn how to walk your path of life with a moccasin on one foot and a Nike on the other.”
Robert Andrews, MBA, CPA, CMA Program Director of AFOA-AB and a member of the Kainai Nation, Robert has developed many business courses for Indigenous Peoples. An experienced instructor and facilitator, he is the recipient of both the Distinguished Service and Impact Awards from CPA Education Foundation, awarded for his efforts to increase the representation of Indigenous people in business and accounting. He is a doctoral candidate, an Assistant Professor, and is Chair of AU’s Indigenous Business Academic Department.
Simon Brascoupé, MA, CAPA, CFNHM
Simon is a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Maniwaki, Quebec. He is an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University and Trent University. He was recently designated Certified First Nations Health Manager (CFNHM) from the First Nations Health Manager Association. He has a research interest in land-based healing, Traditional Medicine, and Traditional Knowledge. Simon conducts research, writes on cultural competency and safety, and is an Assistant Professor with AU.
Tim holds an MBA and BComm and is an experienced instructor and course writer. He has worked for the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, as well as Athabasca University. Formerly the Executive Director of the Indigenous Technical Services Cooperative, Tim has a passion for working with Indigenous people. He is an Academic Expert with Athabasca University and is a current doctoral student.
Call Jacquie Haley at 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6716 to discuss your questions, needs, or educationalCynthia Rayner, MBA
Cynthia has over 20 years experience working with First Nations government, needs assessment, health, and social issues and over 15 years experience working with First Nations in a management position. She has earned the respect and trust from the First Nations for whom she has worked.
Cynthia, who is of Tseshaht, Kwakiutl, Gitk’san, English, and Scottish descent, is the owner and principal at First Nations Management Consulting.
Paulette Tremblay, Ph.D., ICD.D, CAPA
Paulette is President and Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Education Administration Association. She was the Vice President of Education and Training for AFOA Canada, overseeing the design, development, delivery, and maintenance of certification programs in Finance and Administration and Professional Development Workshops. Dr. Tremblay received the prestigious Indspire Award for Education in 2015. Dr. Tremblay is an Assistant Professor with Athabasca University.
As an Indigenous Métis woman who was raised in the Northwest Territories, Jacquie is excited for what this program means for Indigenous learners and to help contribute to make positive changes for future generations. She has been with AU since 2015 and knows the importance of bridging the Indigenous education gap, including for her own son as he plans his post-secondary steps. Jacquie believes that positive Indigenous role models within communities will brighten the path forward for all those who follow.