In conversations about bolstering our country’s talent pool and connecting our youth with skills that will help them bridge over to regional economic development opportunities and global priority markets, we need to drive and endorse dialogue on all youth. This includes Aboriginal youth.
This is exactly the type of dialogue the federal budget is generating.
Minister Flaherty announced today that the Government will invest $275 million over three years to support First Nation education, with $100 million of this amount to be invested in delivering early literacy initiatives and other support services. A commitment at this level to support on-reserve schools will significantly help First Nations youth be motivated by a dynamic curriculum and stay in school. It will open more doors. As we face a potential labour shortage in the next two decades, this investment can give all youth, including First Nations youth, the edge and skills they need to connect to the careers that await them.
Actua applauds this investment as a step in the right direction, but notes that Inuit education was left out of the budget despite Inuit youth also having a significant dropout rates.
We have long been an advocate for engaging young Aboriginal Canadians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), both to ensure future prosperity within Aboriginal communities and to contribute to the creation of a diverse Canadian workforce.
We deliver life-changing, innovative programming – now reaching nearly 30,000 Aboriginal youth per year in 225 communities nationwide. The hands-on activities we develop spark a life-long love for learning science. We do it because we know that youth can be inspired and empowered by STEM and this helps keep youth in school. We know that we can help them build confidence and leadership skills, through the generation of ideas. By teaching youth to think critically and creatively, beginning at a young age, we hand them tools to reach their potential.
Moreover, when we inspire the children of a community, we strengthen the community. We have witnessed young Aboriginal participants engage their parents in the program. Teachers have integrated our curriculum into the classroom experience. The benefits of our programming are long-term and the communities we reach are responsive.
As a recognized and celebrated leader in breaking down barriers to science literacy, we are very proud of our unique programming for Aboriginal youth. We boast many success stories. But we do not work alone. Actua collaborates with academic institutions, community associations, members of the corporate sector and public agencies. Government continues to be a key player and supporter in this collaborative effort. Today, we salute them for their commitment.