McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies and the Cree Nation of Chisasibi in the Eeyou Itschee James Bay Territory have much to celebrate. The community in northern Quebec, Canada has several students enrolled in the School’s online courses for Indigenous People, funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
“The Cree Nation of Chisasibi has been an important community partner,” says Dr. Carmen Sicilia, Associate Dean (Academic) and Director of Career and Professional Development (Credit Programs) at the McGill University School of Continuing Studies. “They helped identify the needs of the courses’ content, they’ve embraced their community’s demand for technology, and have taken steps to ensure their community members have access.”
As a result, the four initial courses have been expanded to comprise ten three-credit courses, in two fully-formed programs: Business Management and Information Systems for Indigenous People. All are tailored specifically for First Nations, Inuit and M.tis people living in remote areas of Quebec and Northern Canada. Online courses in Business Management include topics such as accounting, public administration, communications, project management, and organizational behavior, while the Information Systems courses include programming techniques, database design, and information systems security. All classes are delivered in a flexible online format.
“I REALLY LIKE THE COURSES,” SAYS CLARA PACHANO, WHO’S CURRENTLY TAKING BUSINESS MANAGEMENT CLASSES. “I FIND THEY HELP ME A LOT WITH THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF MY JOB, AND TEACH ME THE SKILLS TO START MY OWN BUSINESS IN THE FUTURE.”
The School, which is located in Montreal, Quebec, works closely with a local Northern Coordinator to oversee program administration, while Band Councils, economic development offices, communities and governments provide local resources such as computers and classrooms.
Dr. Sicilia is shown at the local school in Chisasibi with some of the students enrolled in the online Business Management courses.