Metro Vancouver, B.C. – While most students focus on completing one program at university, James Dekker will be graduating from two.
This spring, he will finish his final semester in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s bachelor in business administration program: He'll also become one of the B.C.’s top aboriginal business alumni from the Ch’nook Scholar Program, a province-wide initiative that aims to engage more aboriginal students at the post-secondary level.
“Being a part of this scholarship program has given me an opportunity to study in university, just as I would as any other Canadian student, while allowing me to establish a connection with, and to learn about, my aboriginal culture and roots,” says Dekker, a Surrey resident who got his aboriginal ancestry from his maternal grandmother and Manitoba’s Pine Creek First Nation. “Being a Ch'nook Scholar means more than just being a top aboriginal business student in B.C. It also acknowledges the involvement and positive impact that scholars have in their communities.”
Established in 2002, the Ch’nook Scholar Program has worked to develop partnerships between aboriginal organizations, first nations communities, post-secondary institutions and Canadian corporations. It now acts as a springboard, launching students into successful careers in business. It helped Dekker, in his fourth year of the program, secure an internship with HSBC’s human resources department, where he is getting exposure and experience in a variety of areas within the global bank.
It’s also given him the opportunity to grow his professional network.
“The opportunity to network and collaborate with other aboriginal business students all across British Columbia has been an unparalleled opportunity. Not only has my network expanded substantially, but I've had the good fortune of establishing strong friendships with other Ch'nook scholars who are all future aboriginal business leaders,” says Dekker, who was recognized at the program’s opening reception this fall for his personal and professional achievements at KPU and in the community.
“James is clearly a leader, a ‘gentle warrior.’ He is an excellent role model not only for other aboriginal students, but for students in business, and across all disciplines. We are very pleased that James will graduate from the KPU school of business,” says Dean Wayne Tebb.
The name of the program, Dekker explains, is an acknowledgment of the Chinook jargon that formed the language of trade in the Pacific Northwest over a century ago. To facilitate education about modern day business and trade, each scholar receives a $2,000 scholarship, a membership with the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, tickets to industry conferences, support in the form of travel and accommodation to gatherings of aboriginal business students, and useful career tools, such as business cards and a letter of reference.
More than providing professional benefits, the program ties the world of business to the culture of aboriginal peoples.
“Being a part of this program allowed me to gain an overall appreciation for the role that aboriginal people have in the Canadian business economy and the value that aboriginal cultures bring to the business table,” Dekker says.
For more information about KPU’s business programs, visit: www.kpu.ca/business.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 145 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
Caption: James Dekker speaks at the Ch’nook Scholar Program’s opening reception, held at the Vancouver Art Gallery in November.
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