Youth get kickstart on Aboriginal entrepreneurship at U of S

Dallas Billette has come to see the world a little differently thanks to the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP).

"The program has opened my mind and has made me think about the possibility of starting my own business, something I never thought I could accomplish."

Billette, who is a high school student at Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon has been exploring plans for a restaurant specializing in Aboriginal-inspired cuisine. She plans on hunting most of the meat and incorporating all parts of the animal into her dishes.

Over the course of two days Billette will participate in workshops, presentations and a pitch party to strengthen her entrepreneurial spirit along with other Aboriginal high school students from across Saskatchewan.

AYEP will showcase Billette and three other students’ pitches to a panel of judges from Affinity Credit Union and Potash Corp. Each of the students will receive a $500 business start-up grant for their efforts.

“We’re extremely proud to host the first provincial gathering of AYEP,” said Edwards School of Business Dean Daphne Taras. “We are committed to recruiting more Aboriginal students and proactively supporting them throughout their studies to graduation.”

AYEP is the vision of former Prime Minister Paul Martin to improve elementary and secondary school education outcomes for Aboriginal Canadians who, although they make up the fastest-growing demographic, have the highest high school dropout rate.

The idea is to keep students in school by expanding the boundaries of the traditional classroom. By receiving Grade 11 and Grade 12 secondary school credits, the program moves students closer to high school completion and the opportunity to go on to post-secondary studies.

The provincial gathering is hosted by the Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan and sponsored by Affinity Credit Union, PotashCorp, Edwards School of Business, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the Wilson Centre.-30-

For more information, contact:

Natasha Katchuk
Communications Officer
Edwards School of Business
University of Saskatchewan

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