Actua and Forward Summit to Welcome Indigenous Youth in Conversations Around Economic Reconciliation

Press Release

Calgary, Alberta - May 13, 2024

Actua is pleased to once again partner with Forward Summit, Canada’s premiere event for advancing reconciliation, to empower and make space for Indigenous youth in discussions on economic reconciliation. The 2024 Forward Summit West Youth delegation will include over 30 Indigenous youth from  Calgary Board of Education (CBE) high schools who will attend Forward Summit West from May 14-15, 2024. Actua previously partnered to bring Indigenous youth to Forward Summit West and East in 2023.

“The Forward Summit offers a unique opportunity for Indigenous youth engagement in economic reconciliation,” said Jennifer Flanagan, co-founder and CEO of Actua. “Actua’s partnerships with Forward Summit and the Calgary Board of Education not only support the growth and confidence-building of Indigenous youth in STEM, they also ensure that diverse youth viewpoints are part of conversations shaping Canada’s economy and future.”

Before joining the Summit, the youth participated in a for-credit land camp designed by Actua and CBE’s Indigenous education team. The three-day Indigenous land-based experience at Camp Chief Hector in Alberta, included teachings from Elders and Knowledge-keepers from Stoney Nakoda Nation and Kainaiwa Nation. While at the camp, the youth engaged in activities that helped them see themselves and their culture reflected in STEM and helped prepare them for their experience at Forward Summit.

“We are excited about the positive impact the land camp at Camp Chief Hector and the Forward Summit West are making for Indigenous students,” said Lori Pritchard, Education Director of Indigenous Education at the Calgary Board of Education. “The students are given the opportunity to participate in land-based STEM experiences and engage in conversations that value Indigenous knowledge systems. This fosters a deeper connection to their identity as Indigenous people and allows them to explore new ideas and have a voice in economic reconciliation. Our partnership with Actua and the Forward Summit reflects our commitment to providing inclusive and enriching educational opportunities that support the well-being and achievement of Indigenous students.”

The youth delegation will connect with industry mentors at Forward Summit West and participate in roundtable sessions throughout the two-day event. Four delegates will take the stage for a youth panel discussion to kick off the summit.

“It’s essential that we create space for Indigenous youth to participate in national conversations about economic reconciliation if we hope to establish the sustained momentum needed to address and correct the growing economic gap existing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians,” said Miki Reeder, President and Founder of Forward Summit. “I am certain the lived experiences, insights, and unique outlooks of our 2024 Forward Summit West Youth Delegation will provide inspiration and hope to all industry partners and conference participants in attendance.”

Together, Actua, Forward Summit and the CBE believe that aligning Indigenous world views and Ways of Knowing with the Western education system lays the foundation for Indigenous Peoples full participation in Canada’s economy and is a fundamental element of reconciliation.

About Forward Summit

Since its inception in 2019, Forward Summit’s goal has been to provide organizations, Indigenous communities and business professionals with the tools and resources necessary to build successful, collaborative, and competitive business development projects that progress economic reconciliation for Indigenous peoples.

Unlike many other conferences, Forward Summit’s intended outcome is to create a community focused on action. The event brings together a diverse audience of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, Senior Executives, and Indigenous Community Leaders for over 20 panels and roundtable sessions of the important conversations around advancing Indigenous economies.

About Calgary Board of Education

As the largest school district in Western Canada, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) offers a depth and breadth of programs and support to meet the unique learning needs and interests of an increasingly diverse population. We focus on personalizing the learning experience so that each student is engaged, inspired and learning to their full potential.

CBE is a leader in education and is proud of our students and the outstanding results they continue to achieve.

About Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) youth outreach organization representing over 40 university and college-based members. Each year, Actua’s growing network of member organizations engages over 375,000 young Canadians in 600 communities nationwide in transformative STEM learning experiences that build critical skills and confidence. Actua focuses on engaging underrepresented youth through specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, Black youth, at-risk youth, and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Its national InSTEM program reaches over 40,000 Indigenous youth per year in over 200 Indigenous communities. 

Contact Information

Alison Gareau
Senior Director, Communications, Actua

Michelle Spink
Marketing Director, Forward Summit

Kara Layher
Media Relations, CBE

Actua's Indigenous Youth in STEM Program

InSTEM engages Indigenous youth in culturally relevant STEM experiences that build skills and confidence and allow participants to recognize and celebrate their existing cultural knowledge.

Learn more