John Charles Bernard

Move over Bill Gates, you’ve got company. John Bernard, from the Madawaska Maliseet Band from New Brunswick, has turned a passion for computers into a multi-million dollar enterprise. Mr. Bernard’s original goal was to become a lawyer. After purchasing a hand-held computer from Radio Shack, however, he developed an immediate passion for computers and as he says, “The rest is history.” Instead of law school, Mr. Bernard graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. He then completed further studies in computer science at the NRI, a technical educational institution in Washington, D.C., where he earned a diploma in microcomputer and microprocessor management. After starting his career as a senior systems operation administrator with the federal government, Mr. Bernard left in 1992 to become a Vice-President and later Senior Partner with Systems Interface in Ottawa. In his new position, he developed a technical support service department for the firm. Soon Mr. Bernard was delivering architectural computer design products to clients such as the House of Commons and other federal departments. In 1996, his next move was to establish Donna Cona Inc. as a subsidiary of Systems Interface and, more importantly, as a Microsoft Certified Services Provider. Through Donna Cona, named after the prominent Huron chief, he promptly landed a $1-million dollar contract to design and implement the entire network information structure for the territory of Nunavut, established on April 1, 1999. Sierra Systems Group, a publicly-traded company, purchased 100% of Systems Interface and 49% of Donna Cona for $6.2 million in stock and cash in 1999. Mr. Bernard remains President of Donna Cona and a partner in Sierra Systems Group.