Canada's Original Think Tank

Indigenous Youth in STEM Programs

Indigenous Youth in STEM Programs

Indigenous Youth in STEM Programs

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: 

Honourable senators, I rise today to highlight the inSTEM Program offered by the charitable program Actua. Actua received funding from the Government of Canada Future Skills Centre to expand their program to include northern Indigenous communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and northern Alberta. Over the next two years, 65 to 75 Indigenous youth in these regions will be able to participate in the program thanks to the $2.3 million in funding.

For the past 25 years, Actua’s inSTEM program has sought to engage Indigenous youth in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a culturally relevant manner.

There are two parts of the program. During the academic year, students will get credit on their transcripts for an Indigenous science course, and then in the summer they take part in a land-based program in their communities for 11 to 15 days. For example, one land-based learning activity saw a group of students from Six Nations Polytechnic go canoeing. While canoeing, they learned traditional stories of water and the scientific properties of water with an emphasis on sustainability and protecting it for future generations.

Mr. Doug Dokis, Director of inSTEM, stated:

It’s letting these youth in these regions know the local knowledge they inherently have is equally as valuable as a STEM knowledge that they’re receiving within the school systems.

Participants in the program receive high school credits. The hope is that this will increase graduation rates. The 2016 census found that 86 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 had earned a high school diploma or equivalency certificate, while only 70 per cent of Indigenous people of the same age group had done the same. As Director Dokis states:

The greatest barrier between Indigenous youth and their career pathways is high school graduation rates.

Jennifer Flanagan, CEO of Actua said:

The organization’s priority is to look for people missing from the science and technology sector and to develop programs across the country that can engage those youth. This includes programs for at-risk youth and female youth.

Congratulations to Actua for obtaining their new funding which allows them to deliver programs in northern communities. Thank you.