My name is Nina Kent, I am an Anishinaabe woman from a small First Nation community in Northern Ontario known as Washagamis Bay. I came to this beautiful Island to attend Cape Breton University and received my Master’s in Business Administration, specializing in Community Economic Development in the fall of 2017.
During my stay in Unama’ki, I met my life partner in Eskasoni First Nation who is Mi’kmaq, we purchased our first home in Sydney, NS, and had our first child in 2018. Safe to say, I am a lifer in Cape Breton. Often when I share my story with local people in Cape Breton, they joke, ‘you did things backwards’ citing it’s the common experience that people move away from Cape Breton to get an education and set a foundation for their life.
I believe it was suggested I apply for this role because of my position at In.Business: A Mentorship Program for Indigenous Youth, a program facilitated by Cape Breton University’s, Unama’ki College. I have been in this role for over 4 years; working with youth has always been a passion of mine and I strongly believe that investing in youth is the best possible way to make change for the future of communities. The In.Business program vision is to inspire Indigenous youth to a become business leaders in their communities, by completing a business education and understanding the synergies that exist between business and other disciplines. Historically, enrolment levels of Indigenous youth have been well below non-Indigenous levels and even more so in the area of business. We operate at the high school level, engaging, educating and mentoring Indigenous youth to make the transition to post-secondary studying business.
I personally believe it’s important to show youth that there are sustainable, socially responsible ways to run a successful business and invest in a life in Unama’ki. Indigenous youth are the fastest growing demographic in Canada, setting them up with the confidence to become leaders in their community is so important and critical for the future of communities. Investing in Indigenous youth and providing the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams will change lives and the overall impact it will have is the economic growth and future sustainability of Indigenous communities in Unama’ki.
I was first introduced by NextGen in 2017, and excitedly await the presentation of the Vital awards each year. I have seen young people receive these awards and thought, ‘what an amazing way to recognize the successes of youth’. It is so important to provide youth with diverse role models, who are finding success here in Unama’ki, and to recognize that there are young people working to make Cape Breton an amazing place to live AND that it doesn’t necessarily require moving away to another larger city center as often the narrative plays out. I look forward to my role on this board, and working with the team to promote the vision and mission of NextGen.