The institute; the first of its kind on a college campus in Ontario, is being designed in consultation with indigenous communities and is based on indigenous business principles.
"We are working very closely with community stakeholders," says Ron Deganadus McLester, who became the college’s executive director of indigenous initiatives at Algonquin last August. "We have successfully engaged students, elders, business leaders, student sponsors and traditional knowledge carriers as we work to ensure meaningful and mutually beneficial futures."
Completion is scheduled for 2018.
McLester, who was appointed to his current position last August, said establishment of the Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship was prompted in part by the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"We also have some of the highest indigenous student enrolment in the college system in Ontario in addition to having longstanding, meaningful partnerships with indigenous communities," he said.The college draws students not only from indigenous communities in Eastern Ontario, but also Cree students from Quebec and Inuit students from Ottawa’s 3,000-plus urban Inuit population.
Enrolment of indigenous students has increased by 12 per cent every year in the past four years, says McLester.
Founded in 1967, Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology was named after the First Nations people who lived in the area. The college has campuses in Perth and Pembroke, Ont. in addition to Ottawa.
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