Scholarship recipient planning to eventually obtain law degree

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

Nathan BreitenbackNathan Breitenbach moved more than halfway across the country to continue his post-secondary education.

But Brietenbach is confident his decision to do so will not only benefit himself but countless other Indigenous people as well.

Breitenbach, who is 28, is currently studying at the Shannon School of Business at Cape Breton University (CBU). He headed to eastern Canada in 2021 after beginning his post-secondary studies a couple of years earlier at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUNIV), where he was working towards an arts degree that majored in human justice.

He plans to graduate from CBU in 2024.

“There were personal reasons as to why I left the FNUNIV to attend CBU,” he said of his decision to leave his Regina school after two years and head to Sydney, Nova Scotia to further his studies. “But ultimately it was because I wanted to be in a business program. CBU offers an amazing program with amazing opportunities. Not to mention the over-all class sizes went from an average of 80 students a class down to 20-25.”

Breitenbach is also one of the lucky few to be awarded a $3,000 National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF) scholarship this year. There was a total of six NIEFF scholarship recipients this year.

NIEEF is the charitable arm of Cando, a national organization that promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada.  

“As an Indigenous person, I believe we need to see more Indigenous individuals with business degrees to help them tackle western and colonial industries,” he said. “Of course, our goal is to create our own Indigenous sovereignty and by more Indigenous students getting their business education will help create a better and clear path for the future.”

Breitenbach was thrilled to be one of the 2022 NIEFF scholarship recipients.

“It meant the world to me,” said Breitenbach, a member of Zagime Anishinabek First Nations in Saskatchewan. “Coming from a low-income family, university wasn’t really a question for me. I knew there was a possibility because of being Indigenous, but even then, the chances can be slim to get approved for funding. I was denied funding my first year of university from my reserve, so I had to seek financial support from outside the reserve.”

Though he still has a long way to go, Breitenbach is planning to attend law school after earning the degree he’s currently working on.

“The NIEEF scholarship was placed in a savings account to help me save for the expenses of law school,” he said.

Breitenbach is hoping to eventually put his law degree to good use, which includes helping his own people.

“My plan is to work with Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia, while of course trying to help my own communities back in Saskatchewan where I am from,” he said. “As an Indigenous person working towards their degree and wanting to be a future lawyer, I hope that I can help future students work towards a path that’ll get them educated and working for their community.”