Educational Resources

Search Resources:
Browse Resource Categories:

Category: Promising Initiatives

MAEI – Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program

Background: Several years ago, the Right Honourable Paul Martin and his family recognized the need for a program to encourage Aboriginal youth to stay in school where they can develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills necessary to achieve success in secondary school, postsecondary education or training, the workplace and daily life.

With this goal in mind the Martin family established the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) to support the design and implementation of a pilot program with the agreement of the Grand Chief and Council of the Nishnawke-Aski Nation.

To date the program is successfully operating in secondary schools in Edmonton, Regina, Prince Rupert, Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. The future goal of this initiative is to expand even further.

Program Overview: With input from the Aboriginal leaders, business community and educators to ensure the program materials met the learning needs of Aboriginal students, the program was first offered from September to December 2007 at Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nation High School in Thunder Bay. The students are residents of remote fly-in First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, who live in boarding homes in Thunder Bay while attending secondary school.

The program is based on the Grade 11 and 12 Ontario Senior Business Studies, supplemented by material developed by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship to Youth (NFTE). NFTE has been in existence for over 25 years and its program is used in 14 countries, including the USA, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, and Israel.

The MAEI program is designed to improve students’ proficiency in Business Mathematics, English, Accounting, Marketing, and Information and Communications Technology, while supporting the acquisition of leadership skills. Teaching strategies include classroom instruction, simulations, competitions, guest speakers, field trips to businesses and mentoring. The program is closely monitored and the success is determined through both quantitative and qualitative measures. Case studies, teaching strategies and examples of successful Canadian Aboriginal business leaders are also included.

Using innovative hands-on activities, guest speakers, and business mentors, Aboriginal students learn how to create a product or service-based business. Funding is provided to start each micro-business and using the services of local banks, students open and maintain accounts, and must comply with all required record keeping and other accountability measures. Students are given entrepreneurial experience and the opportunity for business ownership.

Partnerships: This program would not be realizing such success without the support and encouragement of many partners:

Business Community

Experienced business people 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 modeling traits such as reliability, dependability, communication skills, teamwork and knowledge of proper attire and language. They assist students to set goals, make personal decisions, and resolve problems. The mentoring experience

not only provides the student with an important relationship, but empowers them to use the experience to plan and work toward the future.

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

Banks provide financial information, offer job-shadowing opportunities for students, speak to the class on 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 monitored the program to ensure continued development.

A Real Success Story: As a result of taking the course, a student in one of the locations established a business to make dog biscuits. By the end of the course he had orders for almost 50 dozen biscuits.

The school held a celebration night for the Entrepreneurship students’ families, mentors and other supporters. The student sold bags of dog biscuits at the event and handed out his business cards to seek more customers.

After a presentation about the program at the board meeting, the student told the media that this program has changed his life.

This is just one success story. In future issues we plan to highlight more real success stories.

Media Coverage: Various news articles

More Information: Please use our contact form.

MAEI – Accounting Mentoring for Aboriginal Students

The goal of the Accounting Mentoring project is to encourage Aboriginal youth to complete high school and pursue future careers in accounting. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) is partnering with the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI), participating accounting firms and local school boards to mentor Aboriginal youth who have an aptitude/interest in accounting careers.

Participating secondary school students are identified by their teachers. With parents’ permission, participating accounting firms mentor these students. The accountants will work with the young people over several years in various activities including job shadowing, co-operative education placements, summer employment, scholarships/bursaries and internships. It is hoped that colleges and universities will also support these young people as they pursue their post-secondary studies.

In the 2008-09 school year, MAEI and CICA launched pilot projects with the Rainy River District School Board (Fort Frances, Ontario), BDO Dunwoody, and the Grand Erie District School Board (Brantford, Ontario) and KPMG. Additional students will be added annually.

In the 2009-10 school year, the program expanded to Edmonton with the Edmonton Public School Board and Ernst & Young; in Thunder Bay with the Lakehead District School Board and BDO Dunwoody, and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Grant Thornton; in Vancouver with the Vancouver School Board and Ernst & Young, and in Winnipeg with the Winnipeg School Division and Meyers Norris Penny. We hope to launch a program in Regina in the near future.

Our ultimate goal is to offer the program across Canada and to expand to other professions.

Additional information can be found at the CICA website:

Let’s Talk Science: Rural and Remote Outreach and Aboriginal Outreach

Source: A national, charitable organization founded in 1993 by Bonnie Schmidt, PhD.
Focus: Youth from early years through high school


Let’s Talk Science is committed to extending science outreach to youth in communities that do not have the same level of access to science programming as those in urban settings.

Each year, Let’s Talk Science mobilizes thousands of university and college students and science, engineering and technology professionals across Canada to visit elementary and high school classrooms, libraries, and community events to deliver fun, exciting hands-on science activities to children and youth free of charge.

These experienced and enthusiastic volunteers provide a unique and engaging learning experience, act as role models and shatter stereotypes about science and scientists. Outreach requests from any community in any province is welcomed.

If you would like a Let’s Talk Science volunteer to visit your school or community event or to find out about a science outreach centre near you , click here.

The Belinda Stronach Foundation: One Laptop Per Child

The Belinda Stronach Foundation launched the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Canada program in September 2010. Five thousand laptops will be distributed to children aged six to 12 in Aboriginal communities across Canada.

With support from Vale, BMO Financial Group and the Government of Ontario, the OLPC Canada program leverages leading-edge technology combined with culturally relevant programming to deliver a unique platform of learning tools to Aboriginal children.

Each laptop is equipped with the customized educational software as well as more than 30 other programs developed by OLPC, and wireless capability, designed to improve the recipient’s connectivity to the world at large and allow for community-building within the students’ own networks.

Customized programming includes:

  • Owl Vision – Literacy: The program includes vowel and consonant recognition, word matching, sounds, and comprehension.
  • The Meeting Place – Mental Health, Substance Use and Well-Being: The program addresses a variety of topics including: bullying, smoking, alcohol, solvents, family violence, suicide, drugs, depression and anxiety.
  • Swift Feet – Physical Fitness: A high energy and up-beat action program with twenty different exercises and 10 different dances set to music take users through high, moderate and low impact movements.
  • Ekominiville – Financial Literacy: The basics of money management are offered through a series of activities and games addressing investment, want versus need, saving and the value of money.
  • Healthy Heart – Food and Nutrition: Based on Canada’s Aboriginal Food Guide, Healthy Heart helps children assess their recommended daily intake of food.
  • Drum Beats – Science of Sound: Buffy Sainte-Marie walks children through the Nature of Sound and Native American/Aboriginal Instruments in order to introduce children to what sound is, the characteristic of sound, wavelengths and how sound travels.
  • Future Generation – Virtual Library: The laptop contains 25 books written by First Nation, Métis and Inuit authors. Some books are offered in various Aboriginal languages and one book is fully narrated.
  • Calm Waters – Water Safety: Through stories about frozen and free-flowing water, children learn the importance of safe water behaviour and begin to understand what can happen if poor choices are made.

The pilot sites are:

  • British Columbia: Maaqtusiis School
  • Alberta: Gift Lake School
  • Saskatchewan: Kakisiwew School
  • Manitoba: Otetiskiwin Kiskinwamahtowekamik
  • Ontario: J.R. Nakogee School, Lloyde S. King Elementary, Shawanosowe School, John C. Yesno Education Centre
  • Quebec: Ulluriaq School
  • Newfoundland Labrador: Jens Haven Memorial School
  • Northwest Territories: Weledeh Catholic School
  • Nunavut: Simon Alaittuq School

For more information please visit the Belinda Stronach Foundation at:

The Ch’nook Cousins Project

Summary: The core purpose of the Ch’nook initiative is to increase Aboriginal participation in post-secondary business education. Ch’nook focuses on encouraging, enabling and enhancing business education opportunities for Aboriginal participants. This innovative project is located at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and has many advocates and partners.

The Ch’nook Cousins Project works with high school educators across BC to bring post secondary business education to the attention of Aboriginal high school students. These students meet with Ch’nook Scholars (Aboriginal students enrolled in full-time post-secondary business programs) to learn about business careers.

Every May two dozen Aboriginal high school students from across British Columbia meet at the UBC Longhouse, where they:

  • meet Aboriginal university students
  • learn about career options
  • hear about post-secondary business education programs in British Columbia
  • work in teams to create television advertisements, and
  • stay in the University of British Columbia’s student residences

The key message of the Ch’nook Cousins Project is: business education is a great way of keeping career options open. Business students can specialize in marketing, accounting, human resources, finance, operations, strategy, information systems, entrepreneurship, etc., and since all organizations need managers a very wide range of jobs are open to business graduates.

To see a list of organizations hiring business graduates

Free the children

Free The Children and the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative partnered together to bring to life a timely campaign from February 14 – 25th 2011, that was designed to create widespread awareness of and concern for the challenges facing First Nations youth living on reserves to obtain a quality education in Canada.

The campaign specifically targeted non-Aboriginal Canadian youth, intended to equip them to engage their peer networks and communities in meaningful dialogue on the subject. In doing so, the campaign represented a noteworthy contribution to the creation of a generation of Canadian youth who exercise greater critical thought and active citizenship in support of their First Nations peers.

The campaign was student-led and had two key components:

Educate yourself: Students were inspired to care and provided succinct information that cultivates empathy and understanding of the issues surrounding on-reserve education for First Nations youth.

The campaign specifically examined the shortcomings of the on-reserve education system and how these inadequacies feed a cycle of poverty. In addition to sharing challenges, the campaign highlighted how education can help to break that cycle of poverty and what tremendous opportunities could emerge from the education of First Nations youth.

Participating students and teachers were provided with compelling statistics each day for 10 business days starting February 14, 2011 through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Each statistic was linked to a webpage that expands on the topic to promote understanding. This was further supported by background information on the First Nations education system on reserves in Canada.

Take action: Students were called to take action to promote widespread understanding and concern for the issue of inadequate on-reserve education by raising awareness through their schools and networks about the issue.

Participating students and teachers were provided with an awareness action guide with recommendations for effective awareness-raisers, including detailed steps for three key actions: one for their school, one for their community, and one for their online social networks. In this way, students were encouraged to raise awareness not just with their peer groups, but also with their parents and other adults in their communities. In particular, by delivering statistics and links through social networks, the campaign readily enables students to reach an exponentially larger network through viral sharing of the information.

Students who wish to learn more and take further action will be provided with links to the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, the Assembly of First Nations, INAC, National Aboriginal Day, and other relevant sites so they can explore additional opportunities to contribute as they wish.

For more information go to We Schools in Action Program at:

Partnership for Success


The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation was established in 1995 by a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to achieve the following objectives:

  • To provide support to Indigenous youth to achieve their potential.
  • To enhance the skills and potential of young Indigenous people.
  • To generate positive aspirations in young Indigenous people.
  • To assist Indigenous youth to relate to the community in general, particularly to other young Australians.

The Foundation’s program Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success is a series of school educational support projects for Indigenous students who have the capacity, interest and potential to go on and complete their secondary education. These students are encouraged to go on to tertiary studies – university, apprenticeships and traineeships and employment. Projects are individually funded through private industry, Federal and State Government.

The ‘Partnership for Success’ projects are the central element of The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation.

Each Foundation project involves local Indigenous communities, private and government partners and the Foundation working together in partnership to introduce and manage projects to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students. The partnerships aims are to enable students to compete effectively for employment, apprenticeships, traineeships and/or tertiary entrance when they leave school.

School Plus – Enbridge

Summary: The Enbridge School Plus Program was established in 2009 in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations to support enrichment programming and extracurricular activities in First Nations schools near major Enbridge pipeline routes and our wind farm in Ontario. Over 70 First Nations schools are currently eligible for the program.

The overall goal of School Plus is to encourage First Nations youth to stay in school by funding enjoyable extra-curricular programs to which students would not otherwise have access.

The School Plus Program provides substantial financial support each year to teachers who wish to undertake programs and activities that are not fully funded as part of each school’s standard curriculum. Projects from all grade levels, from kindergarten through high school, are eligible for support. Teachers in eligible schools may apply for financial support, up to a maximum grant of $20,000 per project.

Over the last three years, the program has awarded over $2 million in School Plus grants and benefited more than 7,000 First Nation students in Western Canada and Ontario.

The program expanded in 2010 to include initiatives that build strength and sustainability in Métis and urban Aboriginal communities. Enbridge is proud to partner with the following organizations:

  • Métis Child and Family Services in Edmonton to provide the Enbridge Hot Lunch program at Highlands School in inner city Edmonton.
  • The Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan to support a teaching resource on the history of the Métis people for public and Catholic schools near our right-of-way.
  • The University of Winnipeg to fund the Enbridge Eco-Kids on Campus program to enable youth from two inner city schools in Winnipeg to receive enriched science programming at the University of Winnipeg once a week for 10 weeks.
  • Stardale Women’s Group to support the Honouring the Girls’ Stories program that builds mentoring relationships and nurtures artistic expression among Aboriginal girls in Calgary.
  • MacKenzie Art Gallery to support an urban outreach program that provides quality arts education to on-reserve and inner city students in Regina.

Actua: National Aboriginal Outreach Program

Summary: Actua provides young Canadians with positive hands-on learning experiences in science and technology. By stimulating young people’s natural curiosity, they develop self-confidence, creativity and critical thinking skills – and inspiration to become learners for life.

Actua in the North, an outreach program for youth across the Arctic, was the recipient of an RBC Award for the Far North in Ashoka Canada’s Changemaker Initiative: Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning. The competition, which welcomed submissions from across Canada and around the world, recognizes innovation in educating Aboriginal people in and beyond the classroom.

Actua’s National Aboriginal Outreach Program supports the development and delivery of science, engineering and technology camps, workshops and community outreach initiatives to young Aboriginal Canadians. Through a community-based approach, they deliver confidence-building programming that is locally and culturally relevant. They expose youth to Aboriginal role models and other young and energetic mentors in a variety of science fields and demonstrate how traditional knowledge plays a significant role in the study of science.

The National Aboriginal Outreach Program helps address the urgent need to engage Aboriginal Canadians in STEM fields, both to ensure future prosperity within Aboriginal communities and to contribute to the creation of a diverse Canadian workforce.

Since Actua’s first northern camp took place in Iqaluit over 10 years ago, they have engaged ten of thousands of Northern youth in dynamic, culturally relevant programming. The Suncor Energy Foundation, GE Canada and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency continues to support this program.

Ehealth – Building Health Careers for Aboriginal Youth

Source: Faculty of Medicine University of British Columbia
Focus: Students ages 11-18

Summary: Education is widely considered the most important social determinant of health because of its power to determine future employment, income and social status. This project considers education, specifically mentoring, a key health intervention for youth, and therefore targets Aboriginal students at a critical stage in their developmental pathway, between the ages of 11-18.

One hundred mentor-mentee relationships will be established in urban and rural BC, which will be developed and maintained in collaboration with an established eMentoring platform. Mentors will include post-secondary health science students in institutions across BC, and mentees will include urban and rural youth in grades 7-12. Mentor-mentee relationships will last a minimum of one year, and consist of semi-structured online discussions/activities.

The research component will seek to understand best practices for implementing an eMentoring model in Aboriginal communities; efficacy of technology-enabled engagement; evaluation of eMentoring as a viable alternative to traditional mentoring; and efficacy of eMentoring in promoting awareness, interest and enrolment in post-secondary health science programs, through objective measures (e.g., grades) and self-reported data (e.g., perceived value of Math/Science/English on career path).

This project was one of only three (from a pool of 28) to be funded through the Aboriginal Health Intervention Program by the Canadian Institute for Health Research

Partners and Collaborators:

First Nations Communities: Ktunaxa Nation, Shuswap Nation, Sto:lo Nation and Inter Tribal Health Authority

Organizations: First Nations Technology Council, First Nations Schools Association, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Whistler Forum,

Institutional Partners: UBC’s Institute for Aboriginal Health Summer Science Program, UBC Indigenous Students in Science and Health Science Students Associations, College of New Caledonia, School District 23, School District 36, UBC Okanagon, UBC First Nations House of Learning, UBC Health Science Student Association.

Sign up to receive monthly PPW Educational Resource outreach: