Aboriginal Business Capacity Building Programs in the Central Interior of British Columbia: A Collaborative Project Between the University and Communities


  • Titi Kunkel
  • Blanca Schorcht
  • Randall Brazzoni




Aboriginal communities in Canada are typically marginalized, have very low employment participation rates, and have limited economic infrastructure. The downturn in global economies further marginalized these communities. The University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) Continuing Studies department piloted an Aboriginal and Small Business Leadership Certificate program in the central interior of British Columbia (BC) between November 2008 and May 2009. The aim of the program was to address some of the issues faced by Aboriginal communities affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation in central BC. The success of the pilot project led UNBC Continuing Studies to collaborate with some communities in the central interior of BC to access funds through the federal government’s Community Adjustment Funds initiative in order to develop and deliver a business capacity building project. The project consisted of a certificate program with enhanced Aboriginal content and an internship program to provide workplace experience for students. This paper reports on the practice of community engagement and learning as a result of this project.

Author Biographies

Titi Kunkel

Titi Kunkel holds a master of business administration (MBA), a master’s degree in natural resources and environmental studies, and is completing her PhD. She works closely with Aboriginal communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin region and was the coordinator for both proj- ects described in this report of practice.

Blanca Schorcht

Blanca Schorcht is associate professor of English at UNBC, and regional chair for the South- Central region. Her areas of specialization are First Nations literatures, oral and written traditions, and autoethnography. She works closely with First Nations communities in the region, and was instrumental in the planning of the two projects.

Randall Brazzoni

Randall Brazzoni was the manager of Continuing Studies at the UNBC at the time of this project. He was instrumental in developing and delivering academic credit courses through UNBC Continuing Studies.






Reports of Practice