Ch’nook Scholars Program Brings Indigenous and Business Knowledge Together for Scholarship Students | New


It is a scholarship for business students unlike any other. The Ch’nook Scholars Program provides funding for Indigenous post-secondary commerce students and it’s also a comprehensive program that creates a network of Indigenous business students and valuable industry contacts. The Haskayne School of Business is the only location for Ch’nook Scholars outside of British Columbia

New financing from Canadian Western Bank adds support to the programas well as the support to Lodge of writing symbols for the Indigenous Student Access Program (ISAP).

For the 2021-2022 academic year, three students from Haskayne School participated in the Ch’nook Scholars program mentoring experience: Kiara Johnson, Emily Parker and Portia Torigoe.

Kiara Johnson – Creating Accessibility

“I just feel really comfortable when I can walk into a space and there are people having a good laugh,” says Kiara Johnson, who spends her summer working with Indigenous Financial Services at ATB. “It makes me so much happier in this space, especially when it’s in a college setting because you don’t see that too often.”

Johnson grew up in Maskwacis in central Alberta and is the second generation in her family to pursue post-secondary education. His sister also attends UCalgary and is studying for a master’s degree at the Schulich School of Engineering. Johnson wasn’t sure what she wanted to pursue after high school and tried business at her mother’s encouragement, but it wasn’t always the ideal fit for Johnson. Class discussions that seemed to prioritize profit over people led her to consider a different path, but her Indigenous studies classes, combined with the Ch’nook Scholars program, set her in a new direction. .

“Bringing together indigenous and business knowledge is really my main goal in terms of career planning,” says Johnson. “I think there’s something I could do here, kind of put those things together. I would really like to be in a space where I can help bring that accessibility to help everyone.

Emily Parker – New career paths

“I did not live on any First Nations land. I was raised in a city and wasn’t really introduced to the culture,” says Emily Parker, who majors in accounting and data science. For the summer, she is in Vancouver working in audits for PWC. “This year has been truly wonderful in the introduction to culture, as well as the opportunities to connect with other people within different cultures.”

Although Ch’nook Scholars was delivered online in 2021-2022, students were able to connect regularly with other scholars through online lunches and webinars with guest speakers. Students were briefed on negotiations with a UBC professor Dr. Daniel Skarlicki, Ph.D.Indigenous relations with professor at Carleton University Dr. Rodney Nelson, paths with Keetah McBeath, Associate Vice President, TD Aboriginal Banking and TD Wealth Management Vicky Whitehead, Director of Indigenous Services at Crowe MacKay LLP.

“I realized that my mind had to be open to the amount of business needs, the need for Indigenous relationships, and the number of opportunities that are available to us,” Parker says. “I didn’t even know some of these careers existed.”

Portia Torigoe – Diversity in business

“I could see a clear difference between this scholarship and the other scholarships you have just applied for,” says Portia Torigoe, who looks to international business for her focus. “I really felt engaged throughout the year.”

Initially, Torigoe felt a disconnect between being Aboriginal and going into business. She felt lost as to how to make the connection between her growing identity and how she felt compelled to function in a business environment. The Ch’nook Scholars Program showed him that it is possible to combine the two. For summer, Torigoe brings this integrated skill set to the job helping an oil and gas company as a summer intern for a joint venture.

“We’ve seen a growing movement in the business world towards more diversity and inclusion,” says Torigoe. “All it takes is just a bit of a model and having the example shown to you. in business.

Ch’nook Scholars at Haskayne

The Ch’nook Scholars program has existed at Haskayne for 10 years and supports up to four eligible students each year. Apps for the program are expected in August.


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