Actua Brings Together Educators and Youth for an Indigenous Land-Based STEM Learning Experience
Ottawa, Ontario - July 13, 2022
From July 11-21, Actua and its network member Virtual Ventures at Carleton University is delivering the Mashkikiikaagen Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) Land Summit, which brings together Indigenous high-school youth and educators in a culturally relevant, for-credit learning experience that aligns Indigenous Knowledge and STEM.
The summit welcomes a group of Indigenous high-school youth and teachers from across Ontario and is being delivered as part of Virtual Ventures for-credit Indigenous land camp at the Thompson Island Cultural Camp in Akwesasne First Nation, which is supported by CIFAR, Enbridge and Shopify. It will feature Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from four cultural backgrounds -Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Blackfoot and Cree – who support the Actua team in delivering culturally relevant STEM activities that build critical skills and confidence.
Over the ten-day camp, youth will build an Indigenous encampment consisting of traditional structures, such as a Haudenosaunee longhouse, a Blackfoot tipi, a Cree Meechwaap and a sweat lodge, and participate in related STEM activities provided by Indigenous cultural specialists and STEM professionals. These activities, such as the Tipis to telescopes and others, focus on how new and emerging technology, like artificial intelligence, can be used to impact our daily lives and help participants make connections between modern science and traditional Indigenous Knowledge.
Upon completion of the camp, participating youth will be eligible to receive a high school credit. These Actua-issued credits are recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education and count towards a student’s Ontario Secondary School Diplomas.
Indigenous community leaders and Elders have identified land-based learning and education as critical to preserving cultural teachings and helping youth see themselves in STEM. By administering high school credits to youth participating in land-based learning, Actua hopes to improve participation and graduation rates among Indigenous youth.
In addition to the land camp for youth, the summit engages educators in Actua’s InSTEM Land-Based Micro-Credential Teacher Training program, designed to help educators learn how to incorporate Indigenous land-based knowledge into their classrooms. The four-day program is designed, developed and delivered by Indigenous community leaders, Knowledge Keepers and STEM content practitioners. Together, they work to advance reconciliation in western education by reaffirming that Indigenous Knowledge plays a crucial role in STEM and by grounding content in the community’s unique cultural and educational priorities.
“The success of Actua’s existing InSTEM program and the impacts communicated by our Indigenous community partners have produced a growing demand for even more training opportunities for youth and teachers interested in pursuing and applying Indigenous land-based STEM knowledge,” says Jennifer Flanagan, CEO, Actua. “This summit aims to address this demand and make an even deeper impact as we work to move the dial on Indigenous participation in STEM.”
“In delivering the initial pilot of Actua’s InSTEM Land Camp in 2017 and by continuing to provide this impactful program every summer, Virtual Ventures has developed strong relationships with Thompson Island Cultural Camp in Akwesasne,” says Christine Riddell, Executive Director, Virtual Ventures. “We are proud to be part of this unique partnership that recognizes the under-representation of Indigenous youth in STEM fields and connects traditional Indigenous knowledge with new and evolving STEM technologies.”
The summit is part of Actua’s national InSTEM program, which annually engages 35,000 Indigenous across 200 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in culturally-relevant STEM experiences that allow participants to recognize and celebrate their existing cultural knowledge as Indigenous Peoples. Over the years, the program has resulted in systemic impact by improving educational outcomes for Indigenous youth and contributing to the growing recognition that Indigenous Knowledge is equal to and often forms the basis of what we today call STEM.
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 350,000 young Canadians in 500 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, at-risk youth, and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Its major funding partners include the Government of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, RBC Foundation, the Suncor Energy Foundation, Protein Industries Canada, TD Bank Group, Toyota Canada Foundation, Enbridge, Microsoft Canada, NCR Foundation and Imperial. For more information about Actua, visit actua.ca.
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