Part of a series of People Making a Difference for National Indigenous Peoples Day
Athabasca University MBA graduate at the helm of the 2017 North American Indigenous Games
For Athabasca University MBA graduate Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry, her education will help her give back to the Indigenous community in which she was raised – a place she still calls home, with her daughters, husband, and extended family.
Marcia is from the Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island. The larger community is about 7,000 people, with close to half living on the reserve. The band’s membership is an amalgamation of three tribal nations – the Odawa, Pottawottomie, and Ojibway – and is fast growing in population and business opportunities.
“Understanding economic development is an issue that is quite prevalent in First Nations communities, so to me it was a degree that was practical rather than the other option I considered, which was more research-based,” Trudeau-Bomberry said about her MBA. She appreciated the “learn it today, do it tomorrow,” practicality of the Athabasca University MBA.
“There are a lot of different areas that various First Nations across the country are interested in. They want to know how to utilize effectively not only funding that comes from government, but also creating their own sources of revenue through entrepreneurship or business development opportunities.”
Marcia was the chief executive officer at the helm of the group hosting the 8-day North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Ontario from July 16 to 22, 2017 which, by all accounts, was acclaimed as a tremendous success for the community.
It required a lot of sacrifice, but she was committed. Marcia made the six-hour commute to Toronto every week because she didn’t want to uproot her husband and two daughters. Marcia wants to show her children that Indigenous women do have opportunities in this country and can be whatever they choose to be. Her husband, who was completely encouraging of the decision, also wanted to show their children how parents support and nurture each other’s goals, Marcia said.
“My husband knew this was a dream job, and a really unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and was very supportive of what needed to be done over the last year,” Marcia said. “I don’t think I would have been able to do the job without him, and our extended families, who helped with the girls over the past year.”
It was a peripatetic journey for Marcia to become CEO of the games. She spent her early years in Manitoulin, attending school and speaking the native language of the tribe, Anishinabemowin. She explained that the language has a strong link to the land and the natural world. It’s a connection that keeps drawing her back to her community, even as her jobs and education take her all over Canada and the United States.
One of Marcia’s AU highlights was receiving the David Tuccarro Award, a bursary from Indspire – which allowed her to do an in-residence elective course on international business and understanding legal risks hosted in Washington, D.C. Marcia credits this course with helping her to understand how to navigate different laws, treaties, and customs necessary for doing business outside of Canada.