Sunday, May 03, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paul Martin offers his support for Aboriginal achievement, a BC Cabinet Minister praises port development but doesn't bring any money and Completely Plugged gets its due. Just a few of the items from the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

MARTIN ABORIGINAL INITIATIVE SUPPORTS STUDENT ENTREPRENEURS-- Former Prime Minister Paul Martin made a trip to Prince Rupert to highlight his ongoing support for Aboriginal achievement across Canada. Martin is continuing on with his long held interest in First Nations issues with his support of the Paul Martin Aboriginal Initiative, which locally is highlighted by the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship program at Charles Hays Secondary School.

Thursday's Daily News outlined details of the Martin visit and the program as the front page headline story, the Charles Hays program but one of four across the country to which Martin has taken an interest in. Participants receive five hundred dollars in seed money to get their business plans under way. During the course of the Daily News article, Martin outlined how the federal government needs to become more pro-active in educational matters, suggesting that the future for Aboriginal youth rests in a more collaborative effort between federal and provincial governments. (see transcription of article below)

Speaking of the provincial government, one of Gordon Campbell's cabinet ministers spent some time in Prince Rupert on Monday, as Mike de Jong met up with local voters and offered his support for the Liberal candidate Herb Pond in the upcoming election. One topic of interest to the locals was the development of the Port of Prince Rupert, with de Jong offering up the normal tributes of the Liberals to the goal of port development, though no offers or details of funding for that development came along with the good wishes.

The Daily also provided a review of last weekends Completely Plugged session at the Lester Centre for the Arts, providing a glowing review of the assembled talent that took to the stage on Sunday April 26th.

Thursday's sports page featured a look back at the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Associations awards night from Wednesday, where a number of the city's minor hockey players received their due for another successful year.

Total pages in the Thursday edition (16)

Front Page, headline story...

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Pages 1 and 3

For 17 year-old Erica Morgan, confidence has been hard to acquire.

"A year ago I couldn't stand up and talk to the class or talk to people on the spot ... or the newspaper," admitted ,Morgan on Wednesday, now standing before the local media contingency.

Often removed and quiet in class, she would never had considered talking in front of an audience. And a discussion with a local newspaper scribe would probably have been the last thing on earth she would have liked to do.

But since enrolling in Charles Hayes Secondary School's Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship program, Morgan said her life and her confidence in her self has grown - and there she was Wednesday, talking about her business plan in detail.

Morgan's life has changed, as has many of the students in Larry Hope and Jo-anne Chrona's class.

Hope and Chrona are the teachers who are implementing the Initiative at a local level, giving students the tools to compete in the business community as confident, budding

It took a while not only for the students, but also the school board to get to Wednesday’s place of confidence.

After 16 months of conference calls and planning between District Principal of
of Aboriginal Education. Debbie Leighton-Stevens, the Minsitry of Education and the Paul Martin Foundation, some 18 students from Prince Rupert and the surrounding villages received the chance to learn entrepreneurial skills and get first-hand experience in the business world while completing their high school education.

Hope thought that Morgan spoke best to the success of the program because of the way in which it has made her a stronger student both in his class and others. And he really likes her business idea, which is a tailoring business that will focus on children's clothes and costumes.

"But it isn't just Morgan who feels the program has kindled a business spirit.

Ideas like fried bread and caramel popcorn vending, knit clothing for teens, novelty candles and many more were created by teenagers who might have otherwise been digging for answers to a video game level rather than a business plan model.

Some of the plans have even evolved brand names like Dead-Squid Knit and Mutt Cuts. Dead Squid creator Gregory Miller, 17, said his inspiration was based on choosing the most obscure idea customers could think of when it came to knitting.

"I didn't want people to think of an old woman sitting around knitting," said Miller.

Which could be crucial when you want to sell your goods to a teen market not exactly known for identifying themselves with the seniors' set.

'Making these business Proposals work, however, is still a daunting financial task.

In recognition of this obstacle, The Martin Aboriginal Initiative has provided $500 for each student, which will be placed in his or her name in an individual bank account.

That seed money will be available for the grade 10 and 11 students to begin their business plans in September.

The catch is that 10 per cent of all profits will be donated to a charity, not too shabby when you get to keep 90 percent.

Paul Martin was in town yesterday to discuss the pilot projects aims. Charles Hayes is one of four schools in Canada hosting the project, which Martin said he hoped to expand in B.C.

"The problem is equal levels of education. That is improving but nowhere near as quickly as we would like and that's where this course can step in. It does teach business but it also gives the students a sense of its worth as to why they should stay in school," said Martin.

Martin said long-term success was intertwined with well-funded schools. He chastised the current Conservative government for not spending enough on education. He claimed that the federal government spends 40 per cent less on education, per capita, than the provinces do.

The Daily News reported in January that Prince Rupert School Board fell short of the provincial average for completion rates for Aboriginal students with 39.3 per cent. That number was way behind the 79 per cent average for British Columbian high schools, both public and independent.

Similar to overall secondary completion rates, fewer than 10 schools fell behind SD52 with specific regard to Aboriginal student populations.

Provincially, completion rates reached a record high of 80 per cent overall and 48 per cent for Aboriginal students in 2006/07, but declined slightly this year to 79 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively.

Martin blamed the failing stats on federal inertia.

"The federal government has just got to step up," said Martin. "We do provide primary and secondary education to Canadians. To be short changing Aboriginal Canadians is just morally and economically wrong."

Martin spoke to the fact that 50 per cent of all aboriginal students are below the age of 25.

"The future of the country lies with what these students are going to be doing," said Martin.

Such teens like Stevie Shaw, 16, who thought up a business that looks to make computers more hygienic.

"When you touch a computer when you are sick it can transfer to other people who also use the computer and then they get sick," said Shaw, "Computers are a great breeding ground to start spreading germs."

Shaw said he thought up his idea when he and his family were throwing out an old computer. All the dust that jumped off the mainframe made him think there had to be a way to make sure it wasn't continuous.

"I think there is a market for this kind of business. In fact my teacher has talked to some of his friends who said they would be interested in my services," said Shaw.

And Aleisha Mckay, a 17 year-old who has already scoped out high traffic business location for her caramel popcorn vending business.

"Right in Cow Bay during the cruise ship season and in front of the Ciccone Centre during the All-Native tournament," said McKay. Looks like she's picked up on to the first rule of business. -location.

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