Myrna-Lynn Gabriel: Helping to Shape her Nation’s Future
Myrna-Lynn Gabriel is a busy woman. She lives in Kanesatake, Que., holds a full-time position with the federal government, has a family, and takes part-time online courses with McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies. She’s now in her last semester of the Certificate in Indigenous Business Management,
“Myrna was one of our first students, and she’s been a strong advocate of the program,” says Robyn Clarke, an Administrative Coordinator for the program. We asked Myrna for her thoughts on the online certificate, where it’s taken her, and where she’s headed next.
Why did this program interest you?
My education background is in human resources. I served as an Employment Counsellor and later became a Program Coordinator for the Kanesatake Human Resources Office. So many of our community members are interested in starting small businesses so I wanted to learn as much as I could about business development.
I already had relevant skills in recruiting, interviewing, writing CVs, determining labour marketing needs, helping others explore career options, and more. I wanted to complement that with skills in business plan writing, risk management assessment, identifying business needs, advertising, promotions and conducting market research. I knew that it would help me help my clients, and in turn help our community.
Have you applied the things you learned in the program to your job?
Absolutely! Everything I already mentioned and more.
It’s amazing to see the potential and worth of our community members. You can see the passion they have when they can visualize their concept, back it up with a plan, and put in the effort to make it real. My reward is being able to guide them, coach them, and help to steer them on their path to success.
Since starting the course I’ve been hired as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer for the federal government, and I’m still putting those skills to good use.
What’s been your favourite part about the program?
It’s developed my self-confidence. I’m able to take what I’ve learned in class and deliver it to my clients with confidence knowing it came from a reputable academic source.
I also enjoyed networking with students from other communities. The programs are intended to build the strengths and capacities of our people; that enables us to break down barriers, shape long-term objectives and empower future growth for all First Nations people in Canada.
What did you think of the online format?
I loved being able to attend class online from home. Managing family life while working full-time and attending school part-time with assignments and exams is difficult. Being able to have a quick supper with my family before attending class from home made it so much easier.
Although the content of the certificate is the same [as programs on campus], it’s delivered in a way that meets the needs of First Nations communities. Band offices, tribal buildings and administrators all have people in place with the knowledge and skills to facilitate McGill’s program.
Any advice you’d give to those interested in taking an online course?
Do it. If you can’t study from home, connect with your local school or community centre and ask if you can access their resources. Your community members want to help you succeed. There’s always a way.